Expert Panel Questions???
“I ran my first marathon last weekend, now I always feel hungry. Even right after a meal. And if I don’t eat for an hour or two I have stomach aches. What is recommended food for post-marathon to regain the calories/nutrients that I burned?”
After a marathon, the body is depleted of fluid and nutrients, both of which need replenishing for adequate recovery. Focus on hydration (aim to consume 150% of what you have lost in the form of water or a sport drink), adequate carbohydrate (bread, pasta, rice, sport products, fruit…), and moderate amounts of protein (nut butters, low-fat dairy, eggs, lean meat…). The most effective way to replenish after a marathon is to eat 3-4 times over the 4-6 hours post race. (See my post “Best Way to Recover After a Long Run.” The same rules apply here). Smaller, more frequent eating episodes replenish lost carbohydrate and repair muscle tissue more efficiently than one large meal. Here are some examples of post race snacks.
Post Marathon Snacks:
– Bread with peanut butter and jam or honey
– Fruit smoothie made with fruit, yogurt & milk or juice
– Chocolate milk
– Sport Bar & sport drink or water
– Cereal with milk
– Banana with peanut butter
Follow-up this initial snack with a more complete and larger meal 2-3 hours post race. Avoid going too long before starting the recovery process – you definitely want to start replenishing within 1 hour. Waiting too long slows recovery.
It is quite normal to feel hungry after such intense exercise, and after several days your appetite should return to normal. During these “hungry” days, focus on eating nutrient-dense meals (fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein). Listen to your body and incorporate healthy snacks when you feel hungry between meals. As you recover, your immune system is somewhat weakened – a multivitamin for the week or two post-race may help lessen your chances of potential illness. Paying attention to your nutrition and hydration needs immediately after a race plays an important role in the recovery process.
By Kristi Spence – Masters of Science, Registered Dietitian | Sport Dietitian | TOSH Sport Science | Elite Athlete: Half-Marathon/Marathon