It is a known fact that ‘food has a huge influence on physical capacity’! Thus, a good nutrition is important when gearing up for a marathon.
A poor nutritional intake can shatter every bit of your mileage, potential, consistency and the process of repair and recovery.1-3
What are the consequences?
A poor diet can keep you short of the key nutrients, adversely affecting your performance and overall health in the long term.1-6
- Dip in energy levels: Inadequate calorie intake can manifest as lethargy, weakness and negatively affect coordination and concentration.
- Muscle breakdown: Muscles support energy needs, especially during exercise, and its build-up is enhanced during the recovery period, primarily with the help of protein. Failure to consume sufficient proteins on a regular basis may cause muscles to be broken down to ensure a continual supply of essential amino acids to the body. This will lead to loss of strength and power, and a failure to optimize your training.
- Risk of illnesses and injury: Inadequate nutrition is known to impair your disease-fighting ability and increase susceptibility to illnesses and infections. In addition, it puts an extra amount of stress on your body, delays recovery and increases the risk of injury.
- Weight gain issues: Consuming high-calorie foods can also be harmful. It leads to an increase in the body weight and fat mass. The more you weigh, the harder it is to run.
- Menstrual dysfunction: Inadequate nutrition in female athletes may negatively affect their menstrual cycle until the nutritional deficits are corrected. Hair, skin and nail health may also be compromised.
- Risk of bone weakness: Inadequate intake of bone-supporting nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D may increase the risk for low bone mineral density and stress fractures.
- Collapse: Inadequate fluid intake may cause dehydration and a range of untoward consequences such as reduction in blood volume, decreased skin blood flow, decreased sweat rate, decreased heat dissipation and increased muscle breakdown. All of these may lead to headache, collapse and, on rare occasions, serious consequences.
How can I ensure adequate nutritional intake?
Although it is important to discuss your meal plan with your sports nutritionist, here are a few things you can do to optimise your nutritional intake1-6:
- Keep realistic goals. Make a conscious effort to get your diet and exercise right and do not go overboard with your diet and/or exercise.
- Regularly seek your nutritionist’s support. Talk to him or her about your need of nutritional supplements to support the run.
- Avoid dieting or calorie restriction. Talk to your nutritionist to understand the weight management.
- Consume optimal amounts of nutrients before, during and after the training, as directed by your nutritionist.
- Read food labels to understand the type of nutrients you are consuming.
- Moderate your consumption of processed and packaged foods.
Kindly contact our nutritionist on the toll-free number mentioned below.
1. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: nutrition and athletic performance.
Can J Diet Pract Res. 2016; 77(1):54-54.
2. Rodriguez NR, Di Marco NM, Langley S. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Nutrition and athletic performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009, 41(3):709-31.
3. Australian Sport Commission. Nutrition. Bruce, Australia: AIS Sports Nutrition; 2016.
4. Oregon state university. Nutritional considerations in the athlete. Oregon, USA: Oregon state university extension; 2016.
5. Carlton A, Orr R. The effects of fluid loss on physical performance: a critical review. J Sport Health Sci. 2015; 4(4):357-63.