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Nutrition for Marathon Runners
by Frank Cardia

In the field of athletics, nutrition holds a very important place and any athlete would need to ensure that he or she consumes proper nutritious food that could naturally enhance or optimize his or her performance. This being a fact, it has been observed that several athletes, especially runners, are seen to depend more on food that are not of much help in enhancing or optimizing their performance. So, the question is what can be and is the finest nutrition for runners?

Many people who belong to the world of athletics do not have a good understanding about the right and balanced diet and they end up popping so-called health pills one after the other. This lack of understanding has more of an adverse effect on performance. Thus, what a runner requires to do is to gain pertinent knowledge about the right food and dietary habits that can actually make him perform better and excel at his or her sport.


Now that the question of a suitable diet is doing the rounds in everybody's mind, irrespective of whether the person is an athlete or not, this obviously means that the former, being a constituent of the world of sports, should pay a much greater attention. A number of experts are of the opinion that an energy diet is the most appropriate that an athlete can make the most of. In other words this kind of a diet is also known as a performance-enhancing diet or an egrogenic diet.

The US Department of Agriculture's food pyramid suggests that there are five basic types of food namely, fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and foods rich in protein that make an egrogenic diet. In addition to these food items, if one consumes sugars and fats, extra calories pile up resulting in weight gain.

Extra fats are unnecessary for athletes and can actually lead to disastrous performances. Deriving calories from a number of foods ensure that the body fulfills its want for micro-nutrients that consist of vitamins and minerals and macro-nutrients involving carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

If athletes introduce a lot of carbohydrates into their diet, it will help their muscles to absorb and store more energy which results in good overall performance. But an important note here would be to consume at least 75% of the calories through carbohydrate-rich foods like bread, cereals, grains and fruits.

Different carbohydrates have differing ways to affect a runner's energy levels which is why only those foods should be chosen in the carbohydrate segment which have a high glycemic index. Such foods accelerate the flow of energy into the bloodstream and can help a runner regain their original energy levels after workout.

Fats, when included in the diet of athletes involved in low-intensity sports, can work wonders. Such nutrients are however not the perfect solution for athletes engaged in activities of high intensity. Fats consumed should be only in the unsaturated form like fish oils. Proteins also form an important part of a runner's diet as more than 5% of the energy required during workout come from proteins.

A runner's diet should include at least 0.4 pounds of chicken per pound of body weight. The best protein sources are fish and chicken. Apart from the above mentioned nutrients, vitamins and minerals also play a major role. Most runners must include supplements of iron and calcium to increase their Basal Metabolic Rate.

An important aspect to be noted here is that, all nutrients fail to perform if the body does not get its quota of water. A minimum amount of thirst suggests that the body is dehydrated, as a result of which the levels of performance get diminished.

Frank Cardia has been competing in triathlons for only 1 year now. In that short period of time he has successfully completed a total of 13 triathlons, including 1 Half IronMan and 2 Full IronMan distance.

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