Foods that help your muscles recover faster when you're training for a marathon

Good food has a number of benefits. The biggest impact nutrition can make on your training programme is to help your muscles recover rapidly. This ensures getting the best value out of regular training sessions.

Nutrients that are required for recovery nutrition include:

- water
- carbohydrates
- protein (including the branched chain amino acids)
- electrolytes
- vitamins
- minerals
- antioxidants

Look out for two specific ingredients when selecting their training recovery nutrition formula:

- Whey protein is a source of the essential and branched chain amino acids required for muscle recovery.
- Glutamine is an important nutrient for individuals that participate in high intensity endurance training and events. It is vital for recovery after training and important for the 
immune system, as it is used by the immune cells located in the digestive system.

Staying hydrated is important too, before, during and after exercise.

Key points to avoid dehydration, which accelerates the onset of fatigue:

- Make sure to drink at least six to eight glasses of water per day to stay well hydrated.
- When exercising under warm conditions, make sure to increase your fluid intake with at least 500ml to 1 000ml on that day.
- Sports drinks taken before, during and after exercise may help keep you hydrated for training sessions that last longer than 30 minutes.
- During training, fluid intake of about 500ml per hour should be sufficient, depending on perspiration rate, which differs between individuals, and the temperature on the day.

While taking enough fluids is a wise approach, be careful of excessive fluid intake that may result in over-hydration and hyponatremia, which may impair sports performance and can be as dangerous as dehydration.

When training in hot conditions, replace natural salts such as sodium and potassium. Sodium is widely available in our diets and does not need to be supplemented, so potassium is more important as a focus nutrient.

Rich sources of potassium include:

- guavas
- dried guava roll
- dried apricots
- tomato juice
- celery
- potatoes
- bananas
- raisins

Food sources rich in natural salts and electrolytes:

- fresh vegetables
- fresh fruits
- dried fruits

Additionally, starchy and sweet foods provide fuel for your body in the form of carbohydrates. This is important because it transforms to glucose, which is required for muscle power during exercise.

Healthy options are:

- whole-grain cereals
- whole-wheat bread
- brown rice
- pasta
- potatoes
- sweet potatoes
- corn
- peas

Finally, for immune support, a high Vitamin C intake (1 500mg supplemented per day) as well as Zinc, in order to stay healthy.

Read more:

Should you be carbo-loading for a marathon?

Proper nutrition crucial for marathoners

Fluid: how much do you need?

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