Healthy eating ideas

Can anyone suggest any decent books on eating healthily when training for a marathon. Or do you think it might be worth seeing a nutritionist? I have always struggled with my weight and am desperate to lose some pounds whilst training for the New York Marathon. I have run marathons in the past but always seem to put on weight! and I am desperate to do a PB but things are not looking good on the weight front. I have tried every diet there is but always put the pounds back on. Please help!


  • Try Nancy Clarke's 'Sports Nutrition Guidebook', republished in 1997 by Human Kinetics. It is a really good resource. While not specifically geared toward weight loss, but rather toward all-around good nutrition, Clarke provides ways of establishing what your caloric intake should be, based on your activity. There are chapters on eating to train, carbo loading, weight management, and even a lengthy set of recipes. You can get it on Amazon.

    Happy reading.

  • There's nothing complicated about a nutrtious diet for runners and non-runners alike. Both do well on low fat/high carbohydrate diets with plenty of fruit and vegetables. If you've tried lots of diets I suggest you forget about all of them and use what you probably already know about a healthy diet to make some permanent changes to yours. The slimming business is huge and they make more money if people don't keep the weight off once they lost it. Be cynical about anything that claims to be a new miracle diet.

    As you probably already know the carbs are especially important for runners doing lots of miles, since your muscles depend on glycogen to function.

    If you still gain weight whilst marathon training (and assuming you're following a fairly intensive consistent schedule) then quite simply you're eating more than your body is using up. Try cutting down on empty calories like alcohol, high-fat foods like pies, chips etc, and sweets and cakes. Most fast foods and many convenience foods contain high amounts of fat, sugar and additives none of which are good nutritionally and contain lots of calories. It's perfectly possible to eat enough to satisfy your hunger while you're training by cutting out foods such as these, eating regular smaller meals (rather than say skipping breakfast only to be ravenous and devouring a bar of chocolate at 11 o clock)
    Lots of people count calories but personally I think it can become a millstone around your neck as it's fiddly, possibly not related to your own needs and says nothing about the nutritional value of a food, which is far more important.
    Do a search on food and eating on these threads and you'll find lots of ideas from other runners about what they eat. Hope this helps.
  • Thanks Dayla for the tip on the book. I will definately be getting it to help me on my way.
    & Thank you Laura for the great advice. I know what you say all makes sense and I think by having the book as a guide and concentrating on health eating is sure to be the answer. I only wish I had as much will power in restricting my intake of food as I do with my marathon training!

    cheers again
  • See:
    Slo - Burn by ultramarathoner Stu Mittlemann,
    Body-for-life by Bill Phillips - perhaps no good if NY marathon is coming up too soon as your only supposed to do 20 mins aerobic exercise alternate days
    and er..any of Barry Sears Zone books - yes its right to be cynical about any miracle claims - but having looked at his arguments there do seem to be a lot to commend them
  • Hi Alan
    Sorry I have never heard of Barry Sears Zone Books? is that working out in a zone or eating in a zone...sorry also where would you get the books, on line or WH Smiths?
  • re Dr Sears -- any high street bookstore in fact, - or from amazon etc especially if you want his latest "omega zone" book
    see also - not I'm sure to everyones tastes but hey don't shoot the messenger eating correctly and controlling your levels of glucose, insulin, etc you can enter a zone of peak mental and physical performance! Dr Sears points out that the winners of the NY marathon etc, are not usually to be seen pigging out on pasta the day before...
    whether this is true or not I dont know but I'm going to try his approach before my (first) Dublin marathon in October
  • I don't agree at all about the 'Zone' diet, it's not correctly balanced for athletes. It's better to do as Laura said and eat a proper mix of foods - plenty of grains, vegetables, fruit, low-fat dairy produce, lean meat and fish. Most important to eat breakfast. Look elsewhere here on the RW website for all you need to know on nutrition.
    Sheila Anne
  • that sounds suspicously like the Zone Sheila!
    Dr Sears gives a very reasoned argument why the prevailing dietary advice for athletes might be flawed - not the fresh fruit and veg bits - but the overstatement of the importance of carbohydrates -(aka sugar)- which might lead to the spurious notion that a bowl of pasta is the pinnacle of sports nutrition.
    Read around and make your own mind up
    Best wishes
  • I'd give Bill Phillips' "Body for Life" a wide berth if you're a marathoner! It's just a low-calorie diet and weight training packaged together in a fancy wrapper.

    I don't have a copy but read it over coffee in my local "Buy a coffee and browse all you want" bookshop. What sticks in my mind most is the fact that you're allowed to choose one carb food and one protein food from a list of about 20 of each (yeah, great variety) for each "meal", and he actually says that, since cottage cheese is protein and yogurt is carbohydrate, one of his personal favourite dishes is yogurt stirred into cottage cheese. Yum!

    The Zone...ho hum. I hear the swish of swinging pendulums. One of the less barmy regimes of its type, if not exactly chanting the distance running nutritional mantra.

    Little to add to Laura's sound and sensible advice. I find that partaking freely of a carb-predominant diet while doing plenty of training makes my weight plummet even though it's well within the normal range when I'm not training. What is your current weight, height, and level of training?

    Cheers, V-rap.
  • errmm...84kg 176cm 25%body fat!! - point taken!
    2.5 -8 miles 2-3xweek when I can be arsed and only 7weeks to go to Dublin - help!
    The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

    I dont doubt that a more rigorous training regime (than mine)will cause significant wt loss whatever one eats. I do genuinely feel that a more balanced carb/prot/fat intake may well be a "healthier" option than that generally proposed for runners/other athletes/and Joe Public and may aid performance.
    If you look at professional footballers for example it is well known that most of the injuries (and goals) occur in the closing quarter of each half especially the 2nd half (and especially if you're Man U).
    Now obviously the reasons for this may be many but mental and physical fatigue is recognised to be important. I for one can't help wandering how these guys cant keep their act together for 45minutes - despite their ultra-fitness.

    I think its been less of a pendulum more of a stuck in a corner situation but at least the other side of the debate is now getting some more of a hearing.
  • The fact that the footy players are fighting with the bouncers in dodgy nightclubs until the small hours of the morning probably doesn't do much for their match-day endurance, Alan.

    I suspect there's a big element of individual variation - Duane Chambers says that cutting back the proportion of carbs in his diet helped his performance, Jodie Swallow is a protein aficionado (even if the silly girl thinks that you get carbs from protein) and if we are to believe all we read then generations of endurance athletes trained on a diet of fish suppers and whisky.

    When it comes down to it, the average Briton gets over 50% of their calories from fat and thinks that changing channel on the telly is exercise, so most of us can adopt any of the recommended regimes and do better than we're doing already.
  • I know I promised I wouldn't log on again until tonight but hey, it's Fri pm and as I work for myself I have a very flexible boss who totally understands my need for the forum.
    As I've just started my pre-menstrual binge I thought I'd recommend some of my current 'healthy gloop' favourites for you:
    - Provamel Chocolate Dessert - non dairy, low fat-ish and no artificial additives.
    - 'Smoothie' made by whizzing up ripe mangoes, banana,(any squishy fruit will do, the aim is maximum gloop effect) tbs wheatgerm and bio youghurt. No honestly, you'll feel so virtuous swallowing that whilst pretending it's a Mc milkshake.
    - latest find of peanut cookies from Sainsbury's; nothing healthy about them at all but the whole peanuts on top are just so delicious I had to mention them.
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