Dietician Lauren Antonucci advises to pay at least as much attention to your long-run nutrition plan as you do to selecting your trainers or tracking your heart rate. Many studies support her statement: results have shown that critical to the process of rebuilding glycogen after a long exercise is what we eat, how much we eat and the timing of nutrient intake. To speed up the rate of muscle glycogen synthesis it is important to consume the right carbohydrate to protein ratio (4:1) within 30 minutes after your workout or race. This way you will stimulate muscle tissue repair, minimize muscle soreness, and reduce risk of common cold due to a weakened immune system.
When crossing the marathon finish line, you start searching for your family or friends. The simplest thing is to grab an energy bar. Before buying it, read the nutrition label and try to find one with a carbohydrate to protein ratio close to the above mentioned. This should not be as difficult as choosing your favourite taste.
I do not want to eat an energy bar, what can I have instead? Choose food that is easy to digest, to avoid gastrointestinal disorders, like porridge. It contains carbohydrates, protein, and also fibre that will make you feel sated. Greek yoghurt is very popular with endurance athletes because it is full of protein. Add some morning cereal, almond, and fruit and your dessert is ready.
Pasta is an excellent pre-race meal. Combined with a low-fat meat such as chicken breast or salmon it is also the perfect post run meal. The same goes for rice, select a wholegrain version and opt for boiling rather than frying it.
If you do not feel like having solid food immediately after your run, try drinking some chocolate milk. Fruit juices, fruit and/or vegetable smoothies and fresh fruit like grapes or oranges will provide necessary protein and carbohydrates as well as minerals, antioxidant and vitamins.
Last but not least, do not forget to drink. Even a minor dehydration can cause adverse effects.