When it comes to fueling for a marathon it seems like there are two contradictory thoughts out there: either do lots of runs that are carb-restricted to become fat-adapted or use lots of carbs during training to get used to race day. Does a runner need to pick one strategy over the other? Is there any point in either doing both or is there a middle approach?
Answer from MetPro Coach Megan:
There are many schools of thought. Our Coaches at MetPro see best results using a balanced diet of protein, carbs, and fats, not overly restricting one or the other during your training. We also suggest not changing your fueling strategy too close to race time. Ultimately, there are several viable strategies. In order to truly understand what the best fueling strategy for you looks like, we need to understand your training and your goals further. Knowing where you’re starting, and where you want to end is critical when considering the best approach.
Do you have experience with not using gels and synthetic products with vitamins added to help with fueling?
Answer from MetPro Coach Natalie:
It is more difficult using whole foods as the ONLY source of fuel during training/racing because it is harder to get the same amount of calories/carbohydrates needed given that the volume of food required is greater. Often times, I find when runners use whole food sources they are not hitting fueling goals. For example, one banana has the equivalent calories/carbs as most single servings of gels/chews so the volume that's required can become a challenge from a gastrointestinal standpoint for a lot of runners. Also, whole food sources often take longer for the body to breakdown and therefore utilize; whereas engineered products are made to maximize absorption and toleration, so they do have advantages. Bottom line, there is no
right way to do it –you just need to find a system that works for you specifically.
Another thing to consider is finding a gel that is more
small batch or
homemade and there are several on the market now. Personally, my favorite is Muir Energy gels.
Depending on where I am in my training cycle, my runs can be anywhere from 5 to 13 miles. Should I use some type of food during the longer runs? How about refueling after my run? What would you recommend for replenishing myself?
Answer from MetPro Coach Kristin:
Depending on where you are in your training cycles/upcoming events, you’ll have some options. First and foremost, we need to decide if you want to prioritize weight loss OR performance. We can't do them simultaneously. With increased training and output, it's not to say your physique won’t improve (it most likely will) but it’s important to note that weight loss is secondary.
Since you are waking up very early already, it may be challenging to wake up even earlier to consume food prior to your runs. For your longer runs (1-2 hours or more) I recommend consuming 30-60g of carbs per hour. For convenience, most use gels or chews. Depending on your body type, fasted runs MAY encourage body fat percent reduction or weight loss over time. The type of fuel used during runs is typically a preference to the individual. Post-run, I recommend you eat as soon as your schedule allows (within the hour) to replenish your body with a balanced amount of macronutrients.