Marathon Training: Nutrition Guidelines for Hungry Runners

Make sure your diet isn't lacking any important macronutrients

Whether you are a veteran runner, or currently training for your first 26.2- mile race this fall, at this point in your training you are no doubt running long, and you are hungry because of it.

Many athletes I have worked with over the years complain of "insatiable hunger" as their weekly miles increase. So, how can you ensure that you are eating enough to fuel your training...without overeating?

If you are constantly hungry, then my guess is you are falling short in one of the major macronutrients; carbs, proteins or fats (see the chart below for sample foods and serving sizes). When you are training hard, and not giving your body everything it needs, it remains hungry for that missing macronutrient.

I highly recommend keeping a food log for three days at this point in your training. Doing so will help you identify where you might be falling short...or going over. Correct your macronutrient imbalance by adding more from the group(s) in which you are lacking, and pulling back a bit in any groups in which you are over.

If you are missing good fats, try adding almonds at breakfast and avocado to lunch to keep you fuller between meals (and to also decrease inflammation and injury risk).

If you’re short on protein, add Greek yogurt for a snack and tofu or fish at dinner and you'll not only feel better, but recover faster, too!

If carbs are what you are lacking, try adding whole grain breads, sweet potatoes or fruits for better balance and more energy during training.

By continuing to check in with your eating habits during marathon training you will keep your hunger in check and continually fuel your hard-working muscles.

-Food Examples and Serving Sizes-

2-4 servings of fruit (1 serving = 1small fruit, 3/4 cup berries, 1/2 banana)
6-12+ servings of carbohydrates (1 serving = 1 slice bread, 1/2 cup corn, beans, pasta, quinoa, potato, cooked oats)
3-5 serving of vegetables (1 serving = 1/2 cup cooked, 1 cup raw, 2 cups leafy greens)

3-5 servings of "good" fats (1 serving = 2 tsp oil, 6-8 walnuts, 1/2 Tbs peanut butter, 6 olives)

3 servings of lean protein (1 serving =3-4 oz meat or tofu, 6oz Greek yogurt, 6 egg whites)

2-3 servings of low-fat dairy (1 serving = 8 oz milk/yogurt—carb, 4oz cottage cheese—protein, 1oz cheese—fat)