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.
20 mins easy run
* Beginner’s guidelines as recommended by the London Marathon.
Protein-rich foods at each meal are the priority for today with a light training session. Carbohydrates are lower today before increasing tomorrow, leading into the race. Try out some new meal options with a range of fruits and vegetables to provide micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) for the regeneration of muscles. The snacks included here are optional, depending on your preferences.
Date & buckwheat granola with pecans & seeds
This all-natural granola is sweetened with date purée to make crunchy clusters of nutrient-rich oats, grains, seeds and nuts.
Peanut hummus with fruit & veg sticks
This healthy, nutty dip with tahini and smoked paprika is perfect for spreading – eat with apple slices and vegetables for a quick snack.
Lean turkey burger with sweet potato wedges
An extra-lean turkey burger from Joe Wicks, spiced with a sprinkling of paprika and served with vibrant greens and sweet potato wedges.
Berry yogurt pots
These bio yogurt pots brimming with berries, seeds and nuts make a quick, filling and healthy afternoon snack.
Trout with almonds & red peppers
This nutritious recipe combines oily fish with almonds for a super filling supper.
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.
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