Fueling your body for marathon training

HOUSTON – We are 114 days from the Houston marathon, but before then there will be 5K, fun runs and Tough Mudder competitions all fall.

Fueling your body to prepare for whichever event you choose should start now.

Registered dietician from Advice for Eating, Catherine Kruppa, said we all need more carbohydrates, except maybe not the kind you’re thinking of, like giant bowls of pasta or processed foods.

“What are also carbohydrates are fruits, vegetables and dairy products,” Kruppa said everyone could stand to eat more fruits, vegetables and dairy. “So, one thing to do as you start running is to increase the fruits and vegetables you take in as well as the dairy. All of those have different vitamins and minerals that help your muscles with recovery and with activity.”

She recommends pasta and potatoes only if they’re a small, side portion to a meal.

Kruppa has run 16 marathons and two half marathons herself. She said running motivates her to eat well because too many processed foods will lead you to a sluggish, "hit the wall" feeling. Kruppa said complex carbs and healthy fats in your diet will help you avoid that, run faster and get the most out of practice to be at peak performance on race day.

“Whole grains, fruits and vegetables, some healthy fat, a little sugar is OK,” she said but warned against sports drinks. “You don't necessarily need to start drinking Gatorade or that sort of thing unless you're doing really long, three-plus hours of exercise. So, if you go and are outside for 30 minutes you don't need to drink some Gatorade sugar to refuel yourself, you're fine with just the normal food that you eat.”

However, she said you should be hydrating with low-sugar, non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic drinks.

“The general recommendation is to take your body weight and divide it in half and that's how many ounces of hydrating fluid you should take in a day,” she said.

Although that should mostly consist of water, hydrating liquids also include juice, milk, soup and smoothies.

“Everything in your body works better if you're well hydrated, including losing weight and exercise,” she said.

The number one mistake runners make is thinking that a workout earns you permission to eat more. Kruppa said if an average person burns 100 calories per mile, it’s easy to eat that back quickly. For example, she said all your hard work can disappear with something as simple as a bagel, which can be up to 400 calories or more.