Overall dietary guidelines:
Contrary to previous beliefs, the week before the marathon isn’t all about piling on the pasta. In fact, to maximise carbohydrate (fuel) stores before the race, runners only need to start ‘fuelling up’ or ‘carb-loading’ two or three days before the race (three days if you prefer slower increase in your daily intake). Read more in our guide to carb-loading.
Runners who have coeliac disease, are intolerant to gluten or simply following a gluten-free diet need to plan their meals carefully around the appropriate carbohydrate options to prepare for the race. We have adapted our week-long marathon meal plan to provide options for the week leading up to the event, as well as examples that can be used as part of your wider training or day-to-day routine.
Earlier in the week, it may be useful to start including snacks to train the gut in preparation for increased carbohydrate intake in the days leading up to the marathon.
As a general rule, what you eat should be different depending on the training demands for that day (or when you are preparing for the race itself) to promote sufficient fuelling and recovery. Discover what to eat on different training days with our training meal plans for runners.
We’ve included examples of the race training programme from London Marathon to plan your nutrition for this day.
* Beginner’s guidelines as recommended by the London Marathon.
Carbohydrate is reduced today as it’s a rest day. Starting with a protein-rich breakfast is a good option to support muscle growth and repair whilst training volume is lower. Earlier in the week is a great opportunity to boost micronutrient intake, such as folate and magnesium, which are both important for energy production.
This speedy omelette with spinach, asparagus and crabmeat is packed with flavour and couldn’t be easier.
Chicken meatballs with quinoa & curried cauliflower
If you’re looking for a healthy bowl of flavourful chicken and veg to re-energise after a workout, these meatballs with quinoa and curried cauliflower will do the job.
Sweet & spicy nuts
Cinnamon and mixed spice add plenty of flavour to this easy snack option.
Balsamic beef with beetroot & rocket
Combine the rich flavours of balsamic and beetroot in a healthy beef dish that feels indulgent yet is low-fat and contains three of your five-a-day.
Go back to the week-long gluten-free marathon meal plan.
Find more expert advice and answers to your training questions in our marathon hub.
These meal plans were reviewed on 1 September 2021.
James Collins is recognised as a leading Performance Nutritionist through his work with Olympic and professional sport. Over the last decade he has worked with Arsenal FC, the England and France national football teams and Team GB. He has a private practice in Harley Street where he sees business executives, performing artists and clients from all walks of life. He is the author of the new book The Energy Plan, which focuses on the key principles of fuelling for fitness.
All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.