Find out how many carbohydrates you need to fuel, recover and manage your weight effectively, plus recipe suggestions for normal training days.
On normal training days you should aim for a moderate increase in energy (calorie) intake mainly from increased carbohydrate...
Nutrition plan for normal training days (1 training session over 60 min or containing intermittent/high-intensity training)
Moderate intake of carbs and protein
You should have a moderate intake of carbohydrates on these days. A sensible starting point is including a serving of carbohydrate at two meals. This will ensure that the body is properly fuelled for training and that carbohydrate (glycogen) stores are refuelled after your run, ready for your next training session.
If you have included carbs at breakfast and refuelled at lunch, it is not necessary to have a serving of carbohydrate with each meal, so the evening meal can be lower in carbohydrate (and higher in protein, fats and vegetables).
Meal options should focus on low-GI carbohydrates for sustained energy release. Aim for a moderate protein intake as well - a serving of protein should be included with each meal for ongoing muscle growth and repair.
Snacks should also focus on protein-rich foods. Low-fat Greek yogurt, nuts and seeds and lean meats can make the basis for snacks as required.
Depending on your goals, you may wish to 'train low' by eating a low carb, higher protein meal before your longer run (reducing the availability of carbohydrate to the muscles) to increase the stress on them, so that they adapt and become more efficient for endurance training.
The most common way of ‘training low’ is to exercise before breakfast. More recently, research has also shown that a workout after a protein-based (low carb) breakfast will produce the same result.
It should be noted that ‘training low’ increases the strain on the muscles, which can reduce the training quality of harder session, therefore it should be carefully planned for appropriate sessions. If it’s an intense session, go in fuelled!
Include polyunsaturated fats in your evening meal to promote the function of muscle cells. Iron-rich foods should be also be included – iron is vital for carrying oxygen to the working muscles and supporting energy production during endurance training.
More training & nutrition tips for runners
- Now you've perfected your training nutrition, make sure you eat right in race week with our marathon meal plans.
- Get to grips with eating before, during and after running with our guides.
- Our marathon nutrition hub will teach you how to hydrate properly, carb-load and even how Mo Farah fuels for training.
Are you training for a race this year? What have you found most challenging and do you have any top tips to share with other runners? We'd love to hear from you below...
These meal plans were last updated on 25 March 2019.
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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