Q: I am training for a marathon this year. Food before, during, and after is important to my success and recovery. What meal ideas do you recommend?
A: There are lots of energy bars and sports drinks and supplements out there for endurance athletes. This can make it hard to choose which is best for you. When you think of race food you probably think spaghetti dinners but there are better choices.
If you are looking for a pre or post workout meal idea I would suggest oatmeal as a big staple food. Add in some cinnamon, cherries, walnuts or bananas and its even better. Oatmeal provides fiber, carbs, protein and has a low glycemic index (has a sustained release of energy into the bloodstream). Cinnamon works as an anti-inflammatory and helps to lower blood pressure. Cherries are also an anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants. Walnuts have good Omega-6 fatty acids, fiber and are great for bone health (also good as a snack). Bananas have lots of potassium to help replenish electrolytes and help regulate digestion (these are commonly found at the end of races for a reason).
A great lunch or dinner idea would be to have a kale salad with wild salmon and sweet potatoes. We've all heard Dr. Oz rave about kale and its good fiber and antioxidant levels. It's true. You can add some into a salad mixed some spinach (extra iron), sunflower seeds and dried cherries for an extra nutrition kick. Sweet potatoes provide a high vitamin and mineral content (including potassium, iron, manganese and copper). Lastly, wild salmon (not farmed) is one of the most nutrient dense proteins. It's great for cardiovascular protection and full of essential Omega-3 fatty acids.
Stick to good nutrition and you will have a very successful race day!