top of page

What To Eat The Morning Of A Marathon To Feel Energized

  • Carbohydrates are the primary fuel source during a long race.

  • Consuming .45 to 1.8 grams of carbohydrates per kg of body mass in the 1-4 hours before exercise is recommended.

  • Aim for low-fat, low-fiber foods, as these can cause stomach issues.


Gas nozzles at a gas station

Proper nutrition, including breakfast, is crucial on race day. Eating the right foods can prevent stomach issues, while not eating enough can cause a lack of energy.


It can be challenging to determine what and when to eat. Science offers guidance on carbohydrate and nutrient intake, but personal preference also plays a role. When planning your race day breakfast, consider these important factors.


Why Carbohydrates Are Important Before Marathons


Carbohydrates are crucial in your race day breakfast as they are the primary fuel source during a race. The body's liver glycogen stores are limited and decrease overnight. Therefore, it is essential to replenish these stores before the race to improve performance.


Eating carbohydrate-rich foods and drinking fluids in the 4 hours before exercise can help: replenish liver glycogen, boost muscle glycogen stores, curb hunger, and supply sugar to the central nervous system.


It's worth noting that some carbohydrates can also be stored in the muscles, but muscle glycogen loading (aka carb-loading) should be done 72 to 48 hours before the race day.


Slat bagels for marathon runners

How Many Carbs Should I Eat Before A Marathon?


Consuming 1-4 grams of carbohydrates per kg of body mass in the 1-4 hours before exercise is recommended. This equals .45 to 1.8 grams of carbohydrates per kg of body mass. This range allows for various options, such as consuming 1 g/kg 4 hours before a race or 4 g/kg 1 hour before a race.


It's logical to have a larger meal if there is more time before the race and a smaller meal if less time is available. Individual preferences should be considered when determining the amount and timing of carbohydrate intake. Foods high in carbohydrates include toast, bagels, porridge, cereal, rice, scotch pancakes, cereal bars, and bananas.


What Should I Eat 1 Hour Before A Marathon?


The recommended dosage is .45 to 1.8 grams of carbohydrates per kg of body mass one to four hours before the race. However, due to the relatively short period until race time, I recommend sticking to the lower range, like .45 to .60 grams of carbohydrates per kg of body mass.


In general, the more, the better, but you should adjust according to based on stomach comfort. For a 120lb runner, this would equate to 54 to 72 grams of carbohydrates, roughly packages of GU, or one bagel.


What Should I Eat 2 Hours Before A Marathon?


The recommended dosage is .45 to 1.8 grams of carbohydrates per kg of body mass one to four hours before the race. However, due to a moderate amount of time until the race starts, I recommend sticking to the middle range, like .60 to 1.2 grams of carbohydrates per kg of body mass.


In general, the more, the better, but you should adjust according to based on stomach comfort. For a 120lb runner, this would equate to 72 to 144 grams of carbohydrates or roughly two bagels.


What Should I Eat 3 Hours Before A Marathon?


The recommended dosage is .45 to 1.8 grams of carbohydrates per kg of body mass one to four hours before the race. However, due to a longer amount of time, until the race starts, I recommend sticking to the higher range, like 1.2 to 1.8 grams of carbohydrates per kg of body mass.


In general, the more, the better, but you should adjust according to based on stomach comfort. For a 120lb runner, this would equate to 144 to 216 grams of carbohydrates.


A group of runners during a marathon

What Should I Not Eat Before A Race?


Some foods can lead to stomach discomfort during a race, specifically those high in fiber. This is because fiber takes longer to digest and may still be in the stomach at the start of the race.


Carbohydrates with a lower glycemic index (GI) often have higher fiber content. To avoid symptoms, consider reducing low GI carbohydrates in your pre-race breakfast, such as whole grain bread, bran flakes, rolled oats, muesli, and rye bread. However, if you can digest these foods well, they do not have to be avoided.


Eating too much fat before a race can also cause digestive issues as it slows the rate at which food leaves the stomach. Ideally, the breakfast carbohydrates should be stored by the start of the race and not still in the stomach. To avoid this issue, avoid high-fat breakfast items such as bacon, sausages, cheese, and pastries.


The amount of time between breakfast and the start of the race will also play a role, the longer the time, the less critical this factor becomes, but if the breakfast is consumed shortly before the competition, it is an important factor to consider.


26 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page