Nutrition for marathon training: how much should I eat on the run?
Simple answer? There isn't one. Sorry about that.
You see everyone's different and age, weight and gender all play a huge part, as does experience - the more you've run, the more efficient your metabolism and the better you'll know how to manage it. This is why you never see elites hammering down the gels. They just don't need them having trained their bodies into an ultra-efficient state.
Yet despite there being no set answer, this has never stopped sports nutrition companies from prescribing ever-increasing doses of their products.
Nutrition for marathon training: learn to tune into your needs, optimise fat burning, and fuel happy for massive results and massive health - you can't have one without the other
Marathon Nutrition Strategy (as recommended by major sports nutrition manufacturers):
As an example, take the London marathon guide that has helpfully just dropped through the 33Fuel letterbox (a couple of us are official pacers this year). Here, courtesy of a sports nutrition company, comes a guide to marathon nutrition.
What do they suggest?
That you consume a LOT of their products. This means more sugar than you can shake a fat kid in a sweet shop at.
How much? Brace yourself. This remember is for just one marathon...
- One litre of sports drink. Main ingredient? Glucose syrup (sugar). Also contains Aspartame (sweetener, linked to enough health disasters to fill a phone book). 280 calories
- Four gels. Main ingredient? maltodextrin (sugar), then - after water - fructose (more sugar). 492 calories
- Two energy bars. Included in the ingredients are sugar, glucose syrup (sugar), oligofructose (sugar), fructose (sugar), glucose (sugar), sucrose (sugar). 350 calories
- Two bags of jelly beans. Main ingredient? Sugar, followed in second place by glucose syrup (sugar). These really could not look more like sweets if they were, well, sweets actually. Apart from the price, which is five times higher. 226 calories.
- One recovery bar. Ingredients include glucose syrup (sugar), oligofructose (sugar), partially inverted sugar syrup (sugar). 171 calories.
Are they mental? That's a family meal's worth of sugar.
How any nutritionist could recommend this to anyone, let alone to dedicated athletes is beyond us. These after all are the same ingredients behind today's health epidemic of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and more. They didn't suddenly get healthy just because someone wrote 'sports nutrition' on the packet.
At no point in this guide is building your metabolic efficiency and fat burning abilities suggested as helpful or even relevant.
But there's no money to be made telling you that.
Because if you did build your fat burning abilities and tuned into your body's needs for nutrition rather than shovelling down products you don't need based on a schedule made up by a sales team, you'd be running on a fraction of the product and they'd make a ton less money.
But you'd be happier, healthier and - most importantly - faster. Which is why at 33Fuel we do things differently.
Marathon Nutrition Strategy (as recommended by us):
At 33Fuel we'd rather see more people running happy, healthy and fast than chowing down endless product they don't need before blowing up, throwing up and worse.
Which is why we're quite happy to tell you - building your fat burning abilities and listening to your body is the key to perfecting your nutrition for marathon training and racing. Perfect these and you'll nail race day like never before, you'll never fall prey to stomach trouble, and you'll be in total control of your marathon nutrition at all times.
It's also why we make all of our products out of 100% natural wholefood ingredients, for serious performance with serious health because you can't have one without the other.
Here's to your marathon training and that new PB ;)
Marathon coming up? Check out our best-selling Marathon Special Bundle - it's all you need to smash your last big training sessions and power through race day
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