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    Marathon nutrition advice - and to beer, or not to beer?

    on March 05, 2024


    With the London Marathon just around the corner, sports nutritionist and ultra-runner Mikki Williden (PhD) shares her essential tips to fuelling during race and post-event nutrition, in the second of our two-part series.

    If you missed part one, check out Mikki’s tapering and pre-race meal advice here.

    During the race

    Your time spent out on the course will dictate more how many calories you’ll expend. With that in mind, working to increase fat metabolism in the training by using periodised carbohydrate intake, not relying wholly on carbohydrate sources for every training session (i.e. fuel for the work required) and a supplement that supports an increase in fat oxidation such as CurraNZ. This can help reduce carbohydrate usage and increase your ability to burn fat as a fuel source.

    Carbohydrate requirements 

    Most marathon runners would have between 40-60gm of carbohydrate an hour, in the form of gels, chews and sports drinks. As we mentioned in Part 1, always practice race nutrition three-four times in a key training session before the big event, so you feel you are comfortable with your approach.


    Fluid requirements vary widely and is determined on sweat rate and electrolyte loss (of course environmental conditions on the day also play a role).

     An individual’s requirements can be determined by a simple field test of weighing themselves in light clothing before and after training as a rough estimate – taking into consideration what fluid was consumed during that session.

    A few of these will provide an average rate of loss. The reality is, for a marathon the amount of fluid you can take on board tends to be a lot lower than what you might lose, but this helps with rehydration after the fact (rehydrate 1.5x the amount of fluid lost). 

    Aim to have a few sips at every aid station. If carrying your own water/hydration, include electrolytes such as sodium and sip every 10 minutes or so.

    Post race nutrition 

    After the event, the important factors are rehydrating, refuelling and recovering.

    The hydration requirements mentioned above are important. Use electrolytes such as sodium also as this helps increase fluid retention.

    Protein and antioxidants

    Good quality protein sources that are quick to digest, such as whey protein isolate powder in water, plus some carbohydrate, such as a banana, are a great start.

    For your post-event meal, include protein and antioxidant sources such as dark coloured vegetables, berries and fruit to ensure you have the nutrients on board that will support recovery.

    CurraNZ, a high-potency, dark purple polyphenol rich in antioxidants, is also a good supplement strategy to include in the days following to support glycogen resynthesis and muscle recovery.

    For the week following, I recommend:

    • Protein loading of 2gm per kg of body weight per day.
    • Omega 3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation (salmon, sardines, mackerel)
    • Smoothies containing dark coloured berries (CurraNZ can be included as whole capsules here), dark leafy greens and turmeric powder for post-event nutrient support. A greens powder is also a great inclusion.

     Though you don’t need as many calories in a week of recovery as you do during your peak mileage week, it’s important to eat enough to support recovery, and for your food to be nutritious.

    To beer, or not to beer

     And finally, I know that a cold beverage of the ‘hops variety’ will be a favourite amongst marathon participants – and I’m all for it! - once you’ve hydrated and refuelled properly. Beer has been studied as a rehydration fluid and it’s not all bad news either (1)!


    1. Got Beer? A Systematic Review of Beer and Exercise J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab,2021 Sep 1;31(5):438-450. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2021-0064.Epub 2021 Jul 20.