What to eat before a marathon?

The marathon is an extremely difficult athletic event. It is prepared not only physically but also nutritionally. To optimize your sports performance, avoid injuries, cramps and digestive problems on the day of your marathon, it is necessary to adapt your diet.


Three or four days before the race, fill up with carbohydrates!
Carbohydrates, especially glucose, provide the energy your muscles need to function. The higher your glycogen stores are, the more enduring you will be during the test!

Limit your consumption of lipids by reducing your consumption of butter, fresh cream, cold meats and pastries, and promote good quality lipids i.e. olive oil, rapeseed oil, fatty fish, flax seeds etc..

Reduce your fibre intake by limiting whole grain products and legumes. We also suggest eating vegetables and fresh fruits for the vitamins and minerals they contain.


The day before the race, your last meal must be taken 8 to 12 hours before the start of the race.

Adjust the amount of carbohydrate in your meal to the length of your race. The longer the race, the more pasta you have to eat!

Be careful, choose only carbohydrates that slowly raise blood sugar levels, in other words, foods with a low or moderate glycemic index. Examples of foods with a low to moderate glycemic index include: 0% yogurt, raw carrots, sweet potatoes, peas, pasta, banana, muesli, semolina, cooked brown rice, honey, raisins, rye bread, etc.

Finally, think of limiting foods with a strong taste like cabbage as well as fibrous foods (celery, onions, salsify, leeks, tomatoes with skin etc) to avoid digestive disorders during your race.


Don’t skip breakfast, it’s essential! Breakfast is the last meal before your race. It increases your body’s glycogen stores and rehydrates it. But be careful, digestion and physical activity don’t mix! To avoid unpleasant side effects during the race, breakfast should be taken 3 hours before the event.

Here is an example of breakfast:

– A hot drink: tea or coffee (if well tolerated by your body)
– Traditional bread with a portion of butter and honey
– Cottage cheese
– Compote
– Two slices of white ham for their protein content

Finally, remember to drink a small amount of water regularly to keep your body hydrated.

Article written by Amélie Vincent, dietitian

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