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Nutrition During the Tapering Phase

Feel energised before the race!

You are right there, finishing off the trainings with tired legs, hitting the track with practices, sweating it out to make new records each day. You have finally reached your tapering phase, wherein you need to taper down on nutrition before your big event. For some runners, this phase is a relief and for others it is challenging due to changing schedules and eating habits. The main goal of tapering is to give your body a chance to rebuild and refuel for the big day. It helps the body replenish its glycogen stores, thereby boosting the immunity. The goal is to enjoy the rest period to regain strength.1,2

Six nutritional tips for the taper period

Let us have a look at some handy nutritional tips for the revival of the performance post the taper period.

Protein intake should be increased during the first week of the taper period for the muscles to repair. The healing of muscles by protein-enriched diet gives the right boost for the race day.

Complex carbohydrate foods should be consumed, as they would act as reserves of energy during the much-needed marathon. These would include the traditional diet of rice, whole-grain foods, legumes and potatoes. The need for complex carbs in the days preceding the marathon increases. Hence, bulk yourself with carb-rich diet 3 days before your marathon.

Fat intake should be reduced as the physical activity levels have decreased, making the excess fat accumulate as weight gain in the body.

Adequate hydration needs to be followed to avoid fluid losses in the body.

Plenty of fruits and vegetables should be incorporated in the daily diet as the antioxidants present in them help the body recover from any infections or illness.

Alcohol consumption should be cut down as it acts as a diuretic, increasing the bowel movement.1,2

Although the taper period gives you a new boost and feel to start fresh, it is definitely a tough period to handle for the athletes who have been on a continuous spree of training sessions. Apart from physical challenges, you may encounter mental and emotional challenges in maintaining the training intensity, duration and diet. However, remember that a successful tapering helps achieve better finish time, lowers the potential for injuries and strengthens your immune system. Good luck!

1. Australian Institute of Sport. Current Concepts in Sports Nutrition. Bruce, Australia: Australian Institute of Sport; 2016.
2. Sports dietitians Australia. Marathon nutrition. Victoria, Australia: Sports Dietitians Australia; 2010.