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Eating right helps prepare the marathon runner

Eating right helps prepare the marathon runner

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It may be several months before that marathon you plan to run, but nutrition changes made today can help create a stronger, leaner body for a better race time. Each person responds differently to various foods, so you will need to try a variety of foods to determine which are best for you from the lists below. How much you eat during training depends on the intensity of your workouts, the number of miles you are running and how much experience you have with training for a marathon.

Start by aiming for a healthy diet that is low in saturated fat and trans-fat. The diet should be adequate in carbohydrates, dietary fiber and protein. It is important to include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and lean proteins. 

While you are training for a marathon, it is important to plan your food and water intake. Consuming a well-balanced diet and staying hydrated enables your body to adjust to training, obtain optimal performance, and assists in recovery.

Start by creating a daily list for each of the food groups, aiming to take in 2.5 cups vegetables and 2.0 cups fruits per day. Add in a variety of grain products. Try to make half of these servings whole grain products, such as whole grain bread, ready-to-eat cereals, oatmeal, pasta and brown rice.

Next, look to add lean protein to your well-balanced diet. Your guide is to consume the equivalent of 5 to 6 oz. of lean meat, skinless poultry, or fish each day. As part of this protein portion, you are encouraged to choose plant-based proteins which include peanut butter, legumes (dried beans, dried peas, lentils and hummus), soy products and nuts and seeds.

Create a daily list for each of the food groups, aiming to take in 2.5 cups vegetables and 2.0 cups fruits per day.  The most potent fruits and vegetables are the deeply colored ones. Add to these foods a variety of grain products.  Try to make half of these servings whole grain products.

Here are some foods to limit:

  • Bakery goods made with butter and/or trans-fats.
  • High-fat processed meats like sausage, bologna, salami and hot dogs
  • Butter, egg yolks and full-fat cheeses
  • Whole milk, cream and ice cream

Here are some cooking and serving tips to deliver healthier meals:

  • Serve larger portions of the lower-fat options like brown rice, legumes and vegetables
  • Serve small portions of the higher-fat dishes which often include cheese and fatty meats
  • Instead of butter, use extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil spray when browning and sautéing food
  • Remove the skin from poultry and cut off visible fat from meat before cooking
  • Learn to broil or grill your meats instead of sautéing in a pan or frying in a deep fryer.  Use a rack when you broil, roast or bake so the fat is removed from the meat before you eat it.
  • Do not place (baste) the drippings back onto the meat. Instead use wine, fruit juice or marinade.

If this is your first effort at running a marathon, be patient with yourself. Increasing your training times in small regular increments will keep you healthy and injury free.

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