Unlock Your Potential With Good Nutrition.

Runner Diet Plan


You don’t have to change your diet for life overnight – list down what you eat – in yourNutrition training log – to see if you are having too much or too little of sugar, fats, carbohydrates etc – do you need to reduce a little bit of something? Try reducing that one coke, or a little bit of butter or oil, along with your exercising, as that will help you swiften your progress towards your goal of weight reduction, trimming inches off the waist, cholestrol reduction…. The important thing is to take a holistic view of your diet and not cut out things totally and not too quickly either. A nutrition plan for runners actually is not rocket science for the most part. It requires eating and drinking most things in moderation. Nutrition for runners as you will read in any literature – is about hydration, carbs pre long runs and a good dose of fibre.

Before a slightly more strenuous weekend running schedule, your nutrition plan will be more carbohydrate heavy, as you take in an extra helping of (brown) rice or pasta. But drop the hollow carbs of carbonated drinks/ alcohol as they dont count. Alcohol, additionally, tends to dehydrate rather than hydrate.

Nutrition and hydration: Drink a lot of water and keep yourself hydrated. Drink a cup or two of water before you get out for a run. Orange juice is also great.. Keep a bottle of water with you on your walks/runs and sip as and when – this is key

You will lose a lot of salt along with water, while you exercise, so don’t cut down on your salt intake, in fact, you could even consider increasing it judiciously.. For a long run, it may be worthwhile to carry a small sachet of salt with you, to take a lick of, should you feel the need to.

Eat as much of raw foods as possible – salads (reduce or cut the salad dressing and use vinegar or lemon), raw vegetables, fruit.. and add some roughage and bran to your diet. Whole wheat bread. Soya is great. Soya is probably one of the richest sources of protein for vegetarians and non vegetarians alike.

A banana a day keeps the doctor away – for a runner – great on energy, easy and quick to digest, and rich in Potassium. Now that’s a pack of nutrition which is a ‘peeling’!

Running a marathon is not merely running a race but is a science which requires impeccable planning, strong will, focus, and months of training before we participate.

Nutrition is one of the most areas to give your full attention during marathon training and preparation.

Selecting the “right” foods is the most important area of nutritive diet. Thus marathon runners’ food should focus on the following nutrients at the time of training
And most forgotten nutrient ‘Water’
But the question still remains – How much and what?

The meal before the marathon day, or even a long run of more than 15 miles (24km) becomes very important so as to avoid sleeping problems, stomach upsets, lethargy, flatulence, acidity, etc.Ideal meal the day before the marathon run:


2 slices whole wheat bread + 1 tsp Jam + Milk 1 glass + 1 Banana OR
1 bowl Breakfast cereal (wheat flakes / oats) + 1 glass Skim milk + 1 Fruit (mango / banana / guava )

Nutrient Functions Sources
Carbohydrate (CHO) - Must for marathon runners.
60 – 65% of total caloric intake
CHO is stored as glycogen in body and is the major fuel for running.

If glycogen stores are depleted there will be fatigue, inability to perform and run the marathon.

Major function of CHO is to provide the much needed energy to perform.

If CHO is not present in sufficient amount in the body the protein will get utilized as a source of energy and not as source of protein.

Eat meals high in CHO.

Cereals – whole grains, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, oats, muesli, etc.
Pulses – lentils, baked beans, etc.

Vegetables – baked potato, colocasia (arbi), sweet potato, corn, yam (suran), carrot, etc.
Fruits – Banana, mango, custard apple (sitaphal) , sapota (chickoo), guava, etc

Did you know… eating just two large bananas can take you through a 90-minute strenuous

Protein – Moderate consumption of proteins.
15 – 20 % of total caloric intake
The protein requirement increases by 50 % in endurance trainers as compared to sedentary adults.

The major function of protein is tissue repair and preventing muscle breakdown.

In the absence of CHO, protein will function to provide energy to the body.

Vegetarian sources – Dals and pulses, soyabean, cheese like grana padano (known as cheese for athletes - the quickest way to restore your energy.

The body digests and assimilates it in no time at all.)

Non – Vegetarian sources – lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs.

Fat – limit fat intake.
25 – 30 % of total caloric intake and saturated fat less than 10 % of total fat intake
Excess fat in the diet is stored in the body and takes time to digest. it is released slowly as a source of energy in the absence of glycogen stores.

Gives palatability and satiety value.

High fat in the diet makes you sluggish and adds unwanted calories.

Excess fat in the diet also indicates inadequate CHO

Fruits – Avocado Nuts and oilseeds like groundnut, almond, cashew nut
Non Veg – egg, red meat, etc.

Fats – Butter, oil, margarine, cream, cream dressing, ghee

Fried foods – Chips, samosa, kachori, cutlets, biscuits, croissants, kharee, rusk biscuits, etc.

Water – must for marathon runners. It is important to be well hydrated before, during and after exercise.

All the water lost through sweat and the breath has to be replaced.

Drinking water at the time of running is an art which has to be practiced during training.
Sip fluid periodically while running to avoid dehydration.

Water, juices, buttermilk, soups, lemon juice (with sugar and salt), electral, water with sugar and salt, sport drinks, not energy drinks.

(sport drinks will not only hydrate the body but give the much wanted energy as well salts or electrolytes lost through sweat.)

Some of the sports drinks available in the market are Gatorade, All Sport, Powerade, Lucozade.

 Mid afternoon

1 big bowl Sago khitchadi OR 2 bananas / Guava / Sapota (Chickoo) / Mango / Custardapple (Sitaphal)


2 roti + 1 small bowl root vegetable ( potato, colocasia (arbi), sweet potato) + 1 glass buttermilk OR 1 big bowl Whole wheat pasta in tomato sauce and veggies + 1 glass orange juice OR I big plate of biryani

 Ideal Pre – Race Meal Breakfast

2 slice whole wheat bread + 1 tsp Jam + 1 Banana + 1 orange juice OR 1 bowl Breakfast cereal (whole wheat flakes / oats) + 1 orange juice + 1 Fruit OR 1 bowl Whole wheat pasta with tomato pasta sauce + 1 glass guava nectar OR Energy bar (150 – 200 kcal) + Juice / Water + Fruit (Watermelon) Milk can act as a laxative if had before a run

Tips to remember:

Load your self with carbohydrate.

Care should be taken of not over loading yourself with fiber as it could lead to stomach upsets like flatulence, constipation, or diarrhea.

Consume proteins in moderation. Do not over eat proteins especially non vegetarian foods a day before the run as they take longer time to digest. Also, it will increase body’s requirement for water.

Monitor your fat intake as overeating will make you feel sluggish and it also takes longer time to digest.

Double your water intake; Drink before you feel thirsty – because – Thirst is already a symptom of dehydration.

But, avoid tea, coffee, alcohol, and colas as they act as diuretics, which will further lead to loss of fluid from the body.

Avoid trying anything new food stuff or a drink on the pre race day or on the race day, to which the body is not accustomed.

Also, do not exercise or run till two hours after eating your meal as the food takes two hours to pass through stomach and protein and fat takes still longer i.e. 3 – 5 hours to pass through.

Post Marathon – After the race:

After the race is over, continue to drink fluids (water, sports drinks, and/or juice products are all great choices). As soon as possible (ideally within 15 minutes), grab something nutritious to eat to replace your depleted glycogen stores. Research indicates that to avoid muscle fatigue the next day, protein and carbohydrates should be eaten as soon as possible following long duration exercise. In gist,
So, On your marks, Get set, EAT Right…

Running requires a combination of right training and a healthy diet.
Remember, no matter how vigorous is your running schedule is, it is important to increase your FoodCarbohydrate (CHO) intake, which is main fuel for running. Good food choices with proper combination of nutrients and the correct timing of meals may enhance performance. Also eat more frequently but smaller quantities.. Golden Rule to remember – Eat only familiar foods before a run. What needs to be included and excluded for staying fit while training for a 5 km run, or just running to stay trim and fit.

Foods to include Benefits
Wholegrain cereals like oats, whole wheat, oatmeal, etc. These have complex carbohydrates which release energy gradually and are loaded with multivitamin (Vitamin E, B vitamins, magnesium, iron, fiber, etc..) which are required to stay fit.
Baked beans. Soya bean, peas, etc. Good amounts of CHO, good quality proteins and omega 3 fatty acid (helps reduce arthritis, heart disease, lower hypertension etc.)
Skimmed milk / Paneer (cottage cheese)/ Yoghurt / Curd Rich in Protein and Calcium with reduced fat content. Also contains vitamin B – 12 that helps runners prevent fatigue and cramps.
Soya milk / tofu / soya bean curd / soy nuggets Alternate to milk and for those with lactose intolerance. Excellent protein, calcium and omega 3 - fatty acid.
Low fat cheese Good calcium, protein and low in fat.
Lean meat / fish (salmon) / egg High quality protein, vitamin B12, iron.
Potato / Colocasia (arbi) / Sweet potato / yam (suran) Rich source of CHO for much needed energy. Also a source of Vitamin C and E (antioxidants) which aid in muscle recovery in athletes. Excellent source of iron which is required for oxygen production during training.
Banana / Guava / Sapota (chickoo) / Custard apple (Sitaphal) / Mango Very good source of CHO as an instant source of energy. Contains a good amount of potassium which is lost in our sweat. Easy and quick to digest
Sports drink / lime water / some juices Gives the much wanted energy and hydration as well helps replenish electrolytes lost through sweat.

ALWAYS REMEMBER – Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper.

Breakfast Choice – 
Generally include a combination of all three macro nutrients i.e. Carbohydrate, Idliprotein and fat.

    Whole grain cereal (oatmeal, muesli, whole wheat flakes, etc.) with skimmed milk and a fruit (banana, guava, mango).

  • Whole wheat toast with egg preparation and fruit juice.
  • Crackers (whole grain) with low fat cheese dip / peanut butter with fruit yoghurt.
  • Sago Khitchadi with curd and fruit.
  • Idli / Plain dosa / Uttapam with coconut chutney and fruit milkshake.

Snacks Choice – Include Foods which are Carbohydrate rich and energy dense.

  • Energy Bar
  • Granola bar
  • Banana / Guava / Mango
  • Sports Drink.
  • Spread a thin layer of peanut butter (it boosts energy, has good amount of protein and fat also) on a couple of whole wheat graham crackers
  • Fresh fruits and vegetable.

Snacks Choice – Have a hearty meal which is rich in Carbohydrate. Do not over load yourself or else fatigue and lethargy will set in.

  • Lentil and carrot soup with whole wheat pasta with flavoured yoghurt.
  • Broccoli soup with brown rice and fish or lean meat preparation
  • Vegetable salad with vegetable biryani and lassi / buttermilk.
  • Vegetable soup with Chicken Biryani with carrot / cucumber raita.
  • Minestrone and bean soup with potato paratha and fruit / vegetable raita.
  • Rasam / Mulligatawny soup with Bisibela rice / Chicken Biryani with buttermilk / raita.

Drink Choice – Being well hydrated is critical to good blood volume, cardiac output and delivery of oxygen to the working muscles. Staying well hydrated also decreases the risk of muscle cramping, regulates core body temperature and gets rid of unwanted waste. Water intake should be at least

  • Water
  • Fruit juice
  • Lemon juice
  • Electoral
  • Sports drink
  • Lassi / Buttermilk
  • Soups
  • Guava nectar
  • Milkshake

FOODS TO BE AVOIDED – Include Foods which are Carbohydrate rich and energy dense.

  • Deep fried foods – Samosa, Kachori, Pakoda, French fries, Vadas, Namkeen, Farsan, etc.
  • High fat foods – Heavy gravies, cream, mayonnaise, heavy salad dressings, Cake, pastry, excess of oil, / ghee/ butter etc.
  • Beverages – Cold drinks, tea, coffee, alcohol
  • Meats – Red meat, mutton, pork, egg yolk.

So, eat the right foods in the right quantities which will help you build up your energy stores and fight fatigue. However, it is also important to eat at the right time. And yes, don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated.

Start running, eat well, and stay fit!

Kirti Tatiwala
Registered Dietitian
Practicing nutritionist
Nature’s Basket
Godrej Agrovet Limited

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