Our sports nutritionist has provided you with some top tips for running a marathon, what to eat days before the race, on the day and some great supplements to help you get through the race. We wish anyone running a marathon the best of luck!

Important marathon nutrition tips

– It is vitally important to maintain hydration during training and your marathon.

– Carbohydrates are the main fuel that you will be using during your marathon.

– Micronutrient considerations for training ensure a good intake of fruits (2 servings per day) and vegetables (3 + servings) to increase vitamin and mineral content.

Week before the race

Days 1-3 Moderate carbohydrate intake 4-6 g per kg bodyweight per day (e.g. 280-420 g for a 70 kg athlete) Maintain training intensity and volume

Days 4-6 before High carbohydrate intake 8-10+ g per kg bodyweight per day (e.g. at 560 – 700 + grams for a 70 kg athlete) Reduce training intensity and volume and use rest days to allow super-compensation of carbohydrates to increase muscle glycogen stores.

Race Day

Timings of intake before a race can significantly effect marathon performance. The following intakes have been shown through research to be the most effective4;

3-4 hours before

• High carbohydrate, low Gi meal containing 120-140 g
• Slow release carbohydrates are most suitable e.g.
wholemeal pasta, quinoa, couscous and brown rice
• Low fat
• 20-30 g (protein will further reduce the Gi of the meal and the
rate at which the carbohydrates are broken down)


• Slowly drink 5-7 ml of fluid per kg of bodyweight e.g. 350-490 ml for a 70 kg runner3
• Add an SIS Go Energy sachet to increase carbohydrate content
• If no urination occurs within 2 hours or if urine is a dark colour, drink more fluid after 2 hours (3-5 ml per kg of body weight e.g. 210-350 ml for a 70 kg runner)3

30-45 minutes before

• High Gi Snack containing 50-70 g carbohydrates
• Low protein
• Low fat
• Fast acting sugary foods are best here e.g. bananas, dried fruit, malt loaf, energy bars

During the Marathon

Aim to intake 1-1.5 g per kg body weight of carbohydrate per hour e.g. 70-105 g for a 70 kg runner. Use gels that contain multiple carbohydrate sources e.g. glucose and fructose (e.g. Science in Sport Go Gels) as single source carbohydrates can only be absorbed at a rate of 1 g per kg bodyweight per hour. This will also help increase gastric emptying and increase the absorption of water. Also try to consume 200-300 ml of fluid per 30 minutes, depending on fluid loss rate found in training, as mentioned before.

Sample Plan

Every 30 minutes
• 1 x SIS Go Gel – 22 g Carbohydrates
• 300 ml of water with 24 g SIS Go Electrolyte – 23 g carbohydrate
This will give a carbohydrate intake of 90 g per hour with a fluid intake of 600 ml per hour.


Caffeine -Why caffeine?

The benefit of caffeine in a marathon and other endurance-based sports is that it increases free fatty acid oxidation to spare muscle glycogen

3 mg per kg bodyweight (e.g. 210 mg for 70 kg athlete) 60 minutes before the start of the race.

1 g per kg bodyweight (e.g. 70 mg for 70 kg athlete) every two hours.

E.g. 3 x SIS Go + Caffeine 30 minutes before the start of the race 1 x SIS Go + Caffeine every 2 hours


Beetroot Juice – Why beetroot juice?

Beetroot juice has been proven reduce the oxygen cost of exercise and allow a greater sustained power output for the same oxygen consumption 5.

This occurs due to the high nitrate levels in the beetroot juice increasing nitric oxide levels in the blood. In turn this increases vasodilation of the blood vessels (opens the blood vessels wider) allowing greater oxygen transportation due to increased blood flow.

How to use
• 500 ml of beetroot juice once a day for 2 days before
• 500 ml of beetroot juice or 1 x Beet It shot one hour before
the marathon.

The marathon training summary


• During training consume 1-1.5 g per kg bodyweight of carbohydrate per hour.
• Consume 1 g per kg bodyweight of carbohydrate and 20-25g protein immediately after training.
• Increase Iron, Calcium and Vitamin D intake.
• Weigh yourself before and after training to make yourself aware of fluid losses and hydration needs.

Race Week

Days 1-3
• 4-6 g per kg body weight per day carbohydrates
Days 4-6
• 8-10+ kg per kg body weight per day carbohydrate
Race Day
• 3-4 hours before – low Gi high carbohydrate meal (100-140 g carbohydrates), low fat (<10 g) and moderate protein (~20 g)
• 45 minutes before – high Gi moderate carbohydrate snack (50-70 g)
During the race
• 200-400 ml of fluid per 30 minutes (depending on conditions and sweat rates)
• 1-1.5 g per kg bodyweight of carbohydrates per hour
• Use carbohydrate gels and carbohydrate & electrolyte powder to add to fluids.


    1 Trinity, Joel D. et al.  (2010) Interaction of hyperthermia and heart rate on stroke volume during exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology. 109: 745-751
    2 Shirreffs, S. (2011) Fluid and electrolyte needs for training, competition and recovery.  Journal of Sport Science. 29: S39-S46
    3 Sawka, M. N., Burke, L. M., Eichner, E. R., Maughan, R. J., Montain, S. J., & Stachenfeld, N. S. (2007). American College of Sports Medicine position stand: Exercise and fluid replacement. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 39: 377–390.
    4 Hargreaves, M., Hawley, J. A., & Jeukendrup, A. (2004). Pre- exercise carbohydrate and fat ingestion: Effects on metabolism and performance. Journal of Sports Sciences. 22: 31–38.
    5 Lansley, K.E., Winyard, P.G., Fulford, J., Vanhatalo, A., Bailey, S. J., Blackwell, J.R., DiMenna, F., Gilchrist, M., Benjamin, N. and Jones, A.M. (2011) Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O 2 cost of walking and running: a placebo-controlled study. Journal of Applied Physiology. 110: 591–600.



Written by our in-house nutritionist Tom Whitehead

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