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6 Foods Marathon Runners Should Avoid

It’s nearly time for the BMO Marathon! We know you’ve started your training program, but have you started to think about how the food you eat may impact your run? Moreso, have you thought about how it might impact your recovery?

You are probably focused on the foods that you should be eating to boost performance. However, it’s important to remember the ones that you should also avoid if you want to perform your best and reduce your risk of long-term injury.


One of the biggest factors at play here is inflammatory foods. We’ll dive into exactly why inflammatory foods should be reduced in a minute. The main culprits include alcohol, gluten, cow’s dairy, and refined sugar.

So let’s dive into the foods that you should avoid before race day!

1. Refined Sugar

… wait, but don’t we need sugar for energy to run?

In today’s world, we deal with something called “chronic inflammation”. This means that our bodies are exposed to so many toxins each day, that we’re constantly fighting them off. And refined sugar is one of the main culprits.

When our body is constantly inflamed, we’re not able to put more energy into recovery, or even utilize the good stuff we’re putting into our body to boost performance. That means we’re at a higher risk for injury. However, it’s important to keep natural carbohydrates in our diet so our bodies can utilize the glucose for energy.

Try choosing natural gel packs during your long training runs (like honey), and fuelling up on things like sweet potatoes, regular white potatoes (yup, they’re pretty high in many minerals!), and fruits.

2. Alcohol

This is another major cause of inflammation in our bodies - but also something that most people refuse to pass on. We get it, after a long day of work, there isn’t too many things better than cracking a cold beer.

So if alcohol is one of your non-negotiables, try choosing gluten-free options like clear liquors and soda water, or even a glass of organic red wine.

3. Gluten

Do you know that whole “big bowl of pasta” theory? It’s a great way to get in a lot of carbohydrates all at once to pre-fuel your marathon. However, many people are actually gluten sensitive and don’t actually know it.

Gluten sensitivities can cause sluggishness, chronic fatigue, headaches, digestive upset, and skin irritations that actually show up days later. So if you want to perform your best, try choosing gluten-free carbohydrates like white rice (which is easier to digest) or baked potatoes.

4. Whole grains

This one comes with a grain (get it?) of caution, and really should only be avoided the night before race day.  If you are sensitive to grains, cut this out at least one-week prior to race day.

While grains like oats, brown rice, whole wheat, etc. are promoted as being the “healthier” option, they can be a little more aggressive on our digestive system and may cause cramping during your race.

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5. Dairy

Just like alcohol and refined sugar, dairy causes inflammation for most people. And similar to gluten, these sensitivities might show up days later in the form of digestive distress, lethargy, etc.

6. Fatty foods

Throughout your training, it is important that you consume healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, and MCTs. When your body uses up its stores of glucose, it starts to use fats as a source of energy.

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However, avoid greasy foods around big training days, and the week leading up to your race - like deep-fried anything. Not only can it leave you running for the loo rather than toward the finish line, but fatty foods can cause oxidative stress. This means more free radicals floating around that can cause damage, and reduce your bodies ability to repair.

So what should you be eating while you train, and before the big race? Check out these foods to help fuel your training!

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