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 needs 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.


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 into the race.

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.

Check out the London Marathon's training and meal plans. Don't have a spot to run this year? You can still take part with the virtual event London Marathon MyWay – join up for your chance to run 26.2 miles on marathon day, 21 April 2024.

Below, you'll find suggestions on what to eat and how much training you should do. For a full 16-week plan, have a look at the London Marathon's training programme.

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Friday training:

20-minute easy run

Friday nutrition:

Your 48 hours of carb-loading begins here! This doesn't mean grazing on carbohydrate-rich foods all day – instead, try to focus on including carbohydrate sources in each meal and snack. As you can see from the options, it can be very enjoyable.

Evening snacks are an option to increase your daily carbohydrate intake.

Don't worry if your body weight increases by 1-2kg in the period before the race, as the body stores water alongside the carbohydrate (which is stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen) – think of this as fuel in the tank, ready for the race.

Mexican beans & avocado on toast


This vibrant, vegan breakfast contains a good balance of nutrients to start the day.

Morning snack

Healthy flapjacks

Date and walnut flapjack squares

Make these easy, healthy flapjacks with dates and walnuts for whenever you need a pick-me-up. Plant-based and vegan, they're ideal for those on a dairy-free diet.


Egg & rocket pizzas

Flatbread with tomato sauce, egg and rocket

Use seeded tortillas as pizza bases for a quick and healthy lunch, with added protein from the eggs.

Afternoon snack

Strawberry smoothie

Strawberry smoothie with a wooden chopping board, colander and strawberries in the background

Blend strawberries, orange juice and banana into a fruity, creamy shake that's low in fat.


Cajun blackened chicken with supergreen quinoa


Chicken breasts provide valuable lean protein, and are perfect paired with a colourful quinoa-based salad.

Dessert/evening snack (optional)

Brilliant banana loaf

Brilliant banana loaf

Perfect for using up over-ripe bananas, this is a seriously moreish treat that's rich in carbs.

Want more running info? Now try:

Find more expert advice and answers to your training questions in our marathon hub
What to eat before a run
What to eat during a run
What to eat after a run
How to stay hydrated on a run

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.

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