Nutrition for the Female Marathon Runner
There are various nutritional recommendations that can be provided to multiple classes or groups of people. The nutritional plan is to be individualized to ensure that it meets the desired person’s requirements and aims. For instance, the 25-year-old marathon runner’s objective is to improve her performances; hence, she needs recommendations for what to consumer before, during, and after the races. The nutritional needs of women are quite different from the dietary requirements of men. Therefore this has to be considered. Some other factors include bone density, the difference in caloric consumption, and expenditure, as in Thomas et al. (2016).
The Nutritional Plan
Smith-Ryan et al. (2020) posited that Calcium is an essential mineral needed for bone growth, density, and prevention of bone loss and fractures. Consumption of food containing Calcium will help in having strong bones that can endure the intensity of the races. Therefore, the marathon runner should consume foods rich in Calcium rather than supplements because the Calcium from foods is absorbed better in the body. The foods include dairy products, cereals, green leafy vegetables, spinach, and broccoli. The amount of Calcium should be restricted to 1000 milligrams/day.
Vitamins are essential nutritional components and needs for the marathon runner. The most important vitamins are vitamin D and B complex vitamins. The reabsorption of Calcium is aided by vitamin D. Additionally Vitamin D has been posited to increase immunity and prevent the onset of various diseases, which can affect the performances of the marathon runner. Therefore, the runner should consume fortified foods and fatty fish. Additionally, supplements and direct exposure to sunlight are essential. The amount should be limited to 600 international units/day. Vitamin B6, B12, and Folate are also important. Most importantly, the runner should increase the amounts of vitamin B12 and folate, which are essential for red blood cell development, protein synthesis, and repair of tissues, which are significant in improving the oxygen-carrying capacity and building endurance during long races. The consumption of Vitamin B12 should be limited to 2.4 micrograms/day, B6 to 1.3mg/day, and folate at 400micrograms/day (Smith-Ryan et al., 2020)
According to Costa et al. (2019), carbohydrates are important in generating the consumed energy during the races. The runner should be able to consume and maintain optimum carbohydrate intake. This helps prevent hypoglycemia during the races, maintaining the intensity of training, strengthening the immune system, and facilitating post-recovery. If a runner does not consume enough carbohydrates, they will not be able to endure and perform effectively due to increased glucose depletion. Before a marathon, the total caloric intake should also be increased, including the carbohydrate calories, to achieve an effective carbohydrate-caloric loading effect. The runner should consume the following foods; fruit juice, honey, molasses, dairy products, sweets. Others include whole-grain pieces of bread and cereals, rice, pasta, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and low-fat dairy products such as yogurt, which are nutrient-dense carbohydrates. About 60 to 70% of the calories should be from carbs. Before the race, only quick sources of energy should be consumed because they are absorbed faster.
Burke et al. (2019) stated that proteins are also essential for the marathon runner. They promote faster recovery after training and races; additionally, proteins facilitate muscle growth and repair. Moreover, they help in the synthesis of new structures, red blood cell development, and antibody production. When the glycogen stores are low, the protein stores provide about 15% of the needed energy during muscle activity. Those who lack protein are at an increased risk of injury, fatigue, and decreased muscle mass, reducing the performances. The following proteins should be considered; eggs, fish, peanut butter, beans, soya food, and nuts. Caloric intake should also be increased (15-20%).
According to Smith-Ryan et al. (2020), fats should also be a vital inclusion in marathon runners’ nutritional plan. Fats provide almost more calories needed in the body than carbohydrates. Additionally, fats are essential for the transportation of fat-soluble vitamins. They also contain the fatty acids that supply energy and a great pool of calories that can supplement the runner’s energy, suppose the glycogen stores are depleted. If the runner’s diet has two fats, it can limit the performance because of earlier fatigue during the races. Sources of fats include; peanut and olive oil, sunflower, and soybean.
Before the competition, the runner should ensure that she is well hydrated. She can take the sports drink, water, or diluted soft drink. During the competition, the runner should increase the rate of carbohydrate intake by one gram per minute by consuming carbohydrate-containing drinks. The drink should be consumed at regular intervals during the race, and an alarm can help. Additionally, consumption of carbohydrates with high glycemic indices can help during the marathons, for example, honey. After the races, the goal is to replace the depleted energy stores and fluids (Costa et al., 2019). Moreover, attention should be directed to muscle repair and recovery; hence, the vitamins and proteins will be essential. Fast recovery is important because the body has to be ready for the subsequent training session as fast as possible. The foods that are important for recovery should be the priority. For instance, Carbohydrates will help in filling the depleted glycogen stores. Sports drinks will help in rehydrating. Before the race, it is important to consume enough carbohydrates, fats, fluids, and minerals to help during the race and after (Burke et al., 2019).
The marathon runners need to stick to a specific nutritional plan and modify it according to the race’s needs. The plan should be used during training and after the training sessions to get used to it. The foods that a runner consumes before the race and during the race have a significant impact on the individual’s performances. Moreover, the foods that are eaten after training or the races affect the coming races.
Burke, L. M., Jeukendrup, A. E., Jones, A. M., & Mooses, M. (2019). Contemporary Nutrition Strategies to Optimize Performance in Distance Runners and Race Walkers. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 29(2), 117–129. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijsnem.2019-0004
Costa, R., Knechtle, B., Tarnopolsky, M., & Hoffman, M. D. (2019). Nutrition for Ultramarathon Running: Trail, Track, and Road. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 29(2), 130–140. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijsnem.2018-0255
Smith-Ryan, A. E., Hirsch, K. R., Saylor, H. E., Gould, L. M., & Blue, M. (2020). Nutritional Considerations and Strategies to Facilitate Injury Recovery and Rehabilitation. Journal of athletic training, 55(9), 918–930. https://doi.org/10.4085/1062-6050-550-19
Thomas, D. T., Erdman, K. A., & Burke, L. M. (2016). American College of Sports Medicine Joint Position Statement. Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 48(3), 543–568. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0000000000000852
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