Nutrition for Runners: The whys!

Why do I need a strategised nutrition plan?

As a marathon runner, you need to plan your nutrition to give your best shot. It is very important to strategize your nutrition plan to accomplish the following needs.1,2

You need them all!1-3


Carbohydrates: They are the primary fuel utilised for the working of the muscles. Adequate intake is essential for preventing muscle fatigue. Recommendations range from 6 to 10 g/kg body weight per day.
Protein: They help in repairing the fatigued muscle tissues. The protein requirement for adults is about 1 g/kg body weight per day. However, for runners, this value increases to 1.2 to 1.7 g/kg body weight per day.

Fats: Although you should monitor your fat intake, you should not remove it from your diet completely. Fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids act as a supporting energy fuel, especially if your exercise sessions are long in duration.
Micronutrients: You should strive to consume a diet that provides for all vitamins and minerals in optimum amounts as they look after the ongoing body functions.
Water: Fluid intake is essential for health and optimal performance. You should drink enough water to balance the amount you lose through sweat and exercise.


Your nutrient requirements: a snapshot

It is important to understand that your nutritional needs are based on the duration of your activity. The details are mentioned in the table below.4

1. American College of Sports Medicine, the American Dietetic Association, and the Dietitians of Canada. Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2000:2130-45.
2. Colorado State University. Food and Nutrition Series. Nutrition for athletes. Colorado, USA: Colorado State University Extension; 2015.
3. Expert Group of the Indian Council of Medical Research. Nutrient Requirements and Recommended Dietary Allowances for Indians. Hyderabad, India: National Institute of Nutrition; 2010.
4. Weatherwax-Fall D. Different nutritional plans for different athletes. NSCA’s Performance Training J. 2016;5(6):12-14.