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October 2021
October 28, 2021 | Issue #138
Nutrition for Marathoners/Endurance Athletes:
Let's Focus on Recovery!
Successfully running a marathon is an incredible accomplishment no matter what your goals are for covering or racing 26.2! As anyone who has run a marathon knows, you may be feeling the muscle soreness and reductions in mobility for days or even a few weeks following your event. A study on ultramarathon runners showed that it may take up to two weeks to fully recover from an event[1]. If you have just run a marathon or are planning to complete the upcoming New York marathon on Nov 7th, have no fear, this primer will give you all the tools you need to set you up for a speedy recovery. As you will learn, post-marathon refueling relies on stocking up on carbohydrates to refill our fuel stores and getting enough protein to repair our damaged muscles.
Our muscle and liver cells store fuel in the form of glycogen and release it in response to exercise to keep our muscles working at their best. After an event, or any kind of extended and grueling exercise, our glycogen stores are greatly depleted.
So how do we replenish our glycogen stores?
You may have guessed it, by making sure we get in enough carbs! When we eat carbohydrates, they are then converted to glucose by the body, and later to glycogen for storage. Unfortunately, we can’t just fill up our liver and muscle cells with glycogen like we would refill a gas tank; adequate replenishment of muscle glycogen stores can take up to 72 hours[2]. Now let’s get into how much carbohydrate is required to properly replenish our glycogen stores.
  • Our effort to properly support our recovery should begin right after you cross that finish line -again, this is true no matter what your goals or pace during the race; Research from the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests that consuming 0.3-0.5g of carbohydrate per pound of bodyweight within 30 minutes after completing the marathon and then every two hours for the first four to six hours after that maximizes how fast our stores are repleted[3]. For a 150lb athlete this would translate to 45-75g of carbohydrate.
  • For reference, 30g of carbohydrate is the amount in a cup of pasta or cereal, one banana,2 slices of bread or one small bagel. You can quite easily estimate whether your intake will be meeting your recovery needs, as 1 cup is roughly the size of your fist. 
  • You may have noticed that the examples listed above have something in common, and in the case of recovery nutrition, not all carbohydrates were created equal! Research shows that foods that score high on the Glycemic Index (GI) replenish glycogen more effectively than foods that score lower. A higher score on the Glycemic Index indicates that the food raises our blood glucose more effectively and these high-GI foods are absorbed more quickly by our body. The foods mentioned above all fall into this category.
Recovery, the Long Game:

Post-race/post season, may runners mistakenly fall into the trap of thinking that because their training has dropped off, their nutrition can too. This can be a mistake, as not refueling adequately can protract recovery and lengthens the time it takes for our immune systems to get back up to 100% post exhaustive endurance event. While you are right to assume that our carbohydrate needs go down in the recovery phase, it may not be by as much as you think and is also ONLY true if you decrease cross training (and don’t just substitute hiking or cycling for running). During the first few days and weeks following a race you may or may not notice your desire for carbs reduce as you restock your glycogen. This is normal and we encourage you to listen to your body (not your mind) when choosing what to eat and when. Thereafter, you may start to notice that the daily bagel craving is replaced by a hankering for eggs and toast. If being in touch with your carbohydrate needs sounds impossible, know that it isn’t and that we, the Dietitians at Nutrition Energy, are here to help you become more attune to your hunger cues and teach you how to intuitively meet your needs.
What about muscle recovery?
Not only are our glycogen stores depleted after a marathon, but our muscle cells need some TLC and time to repair too. It should come as no surprise then, that adequate protein intake is needed for a smooth and timely recovery. What might be less intuitive is that carbohydrates also play a critical role in rebuilding our damaged muscles. Studies have shown that carbohydrate intake can minimize exercise-induced muscle damage and boost our training adaptations[4]. The name of the game here is that adding protein to our carbohydrate-rich recovery meal immediately post-workout facilitates glycogen resynthesis and promotes muscle repair. The available evidence suggests that consuming at least 15-25g (30-40g if you are over age 30-40) of protein in the period following hard efforts will help you repair muscle tissue and can also help along muscle glycogen resynthesis -especially if/when carbohydrate intake is inadequate[5]. As with carbohydrates, meeting the recommended daily intakes of protein is vital to support recovery. Just as in training season, it is important to include adequate protein 3-4 times a day in the off season as you take Somme much needed time complete off and/or experiment with different sports such as hiking or swimming.
So far, we’ve covered carbohydrates and protein, but what about fats?
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that fat intake should closely follow public health recommendations[6], and we agree. Fats can decrease inflammation, improve hormones and satiety. Please do your body a favor and ensure you continue to include fats in your diet. The same types of fats we focus on during training season should be prioritized (e.g., avocado, nuts, seeds, fatty fish).
Depending on what time of day you cross that finish line, a question we field often is regarding celebrating post-race! While a celebratory beer might be tempting, we encourage to get in what your body needs FIRST.
In summary, carbohydrates and protein work synergistically to repair and refuel our bodies and as such should be the cornerstones of any recovery strategy. Proper hydration following exercise, and making sure we are properly fueled every day, are all also important factors determining how fast we can get back to our feeling best. Taking time off and focusing on your nutrition makes a difference – while you’re recovering, enjoy your time off with family, friends, or by yourself, to relax and reflect on this past season and allow your body to recovery adequately so that you’ll be ready to train hard again next season.

[1] Nicolas, M., Banizette, M., & Millet, G. Y. (2011). Stress and recovery states after a 24h ultra-marathon race: A one-month follow-up study. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 12(4), 368–374. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2011.03.005
[2] Costill, D. L., Sherman, W. M., Fink, W. J., Maresh, C., Witten, M., & Miller, J. M. (1981). The role of dietary carbohydrates in muscle glycogen resynthesis after strenuous running. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 34(9), 1831–1836. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/34.9.1831
[3] Kerksick, C. M., Arent, S., Schoenfeld, B. J., Stout, J. R., Campbell, B., Wilborn, C. D., Taylor, L., Kalman, D., Smith-Ryan, A. E., Kreider, R. B., Willoughby, D., Arciero, P. J., VanDusseldorp, T. A., Ormsbee, M. J., Wildman, R., Greenwood, M., Ziegenfuss, T. N., Aragon, A. A., & Antonio, J. (2017). International society of sports nutrition position stand: nutrient timing. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 14, 33. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-017-0189-4
[4] Kerksick, C. M., Arent, S., Schoenfeld, B. J., Stout, J. R., Campbell, B., Wilborn, C. D., Taylor, L., Kalman, D., Smith-Ryan, A. E., Kreider, R. B., Willoughby, D., Arciero, P. J., VanDusseldorp, T. A., Ormsbee, M. J., Wildman, R., Greenwood, M., Ziegenfuss, T. N., Aragon, A. A., & Antonio, J. (2017). International society of sports nutrition position stand: nutrient timing. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 14, 33. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-017-0189-4
[5] Nutrition and Athletic Performance, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: March 2016 - Volume 48 - Issue 3 - p 543-568
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000852
[6] Ibid. 
Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice About Fall!
We don’t know about you, but we are 100% on board with enjoying the fall flavors of both pumpkin and apple, and are always looking for new and tasty ways to enjoy both. Today we will share some great recipes that use these two fall favorite foods!
Before we move on to the recipes, just a friendly Dietitian reminder that in addition to tasting great, both apples and pumpkins are packed full of nutrients; 1 medium apple or 1 cup of pumpkin contain a fifth of your daily need for vitamin C, and both are also a great source of soluble fiber, and contain much talked about antioxidants. Additionally, a small apple contains as much potassium as half a banana while a cup of pumpkin has as much vitamin A as a carrot - and Vitamin A promotes good eyesight and immune health. But above all, both taste great eaten in a variety of ways and dishes.
While you are enjoying this season of apple picking and pumpkin carving, here are 10 delicious recipes to help you include these autumn staples in your diet:
  1. Cinnamon Apple Chips: Snack on these light and crunchy chips any time of day.
  2. Roasted Garlic and Pumpkin Hummus: An elegant and seasonal addition to any cruditè.
  3. Baked Apple: Simple and delectable, this baked apple is perfect for a snack or dessert.
  4. Yellow Chickpea Pumpkin Curry: A savory and creamy curry will brighten up your dinner table.
  5. Apple Crisp: Delight your friends and loved ones with this decadent dessert.
  6. Almond Flour Pumpkin Pancakes: These gluten-free and delicious pancakes are a great way to welcome a crisp fall morning.
  7. Homemade Apple Cider: Cozy up with this classic and stay warm on a chilly evening, enjoy a nice cup of cider this fall.
  8. Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats; The richness of pumpkin pie combined with nourishing oats will help you start your day off right.
  9. Instant Pot Applesauce: This super easy apple sauce will have you wishing you made it sooner!
  10. Classic Pumpkin Soup: Embrace the season with this wholesome and hearty soup.
A Note From Lauren
This November 7, the NYC Marathon will be celebrating 50 years - and although the number of competitors will be limited this year due to (you know what) it will still be a great event! As we all know, NYC is known for coming together
in times of both difficulty and celebration - and here we are celebrating the hard work, commitment, and accomplishments of athletes who have trained for this day for months. For those of you lucky enough to participate in-person this year, make sure to have all your gear and nutrition ready the night before, get a good nights sleep, and give yourself plenty of time in the morning. Rely and trust in your training and preparation - you are ready! Breathe and enjoy the run!

If you are running, supporting, or cheering on 11/7, tweet us or reach out through Facebook - we'd love to see pictures and hear stories throughout the day! If you need help with final preparations - feel free to reach out to us at our office, or on Twitter @NutritionEnergy, Instagram @NutritionEnergy and @NutritionEnergy_Fuels, or Facebook!

Lauren Antonucci
Nutrition Energy