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HCMC Marathon

How to carb-load for Marathon week?

Here are some simple tips to keep in mind to get to the starting line properly fueled and confident.

5-day before race day

You can begin carb-loading as early as five days prior by adding in more pastas and starches (low glycemic index foods) to your diet throughout the week. These foods are quick to digest and don’t often contain the fiber which has been known to cause GI* distress as the mileage piles up.

Remember, eating too much more than you normally do will make you feel bloated and lethargic.

At this point in the nutrition cycle, relax and don’t go overboard. Bread, pasta, rice, cereal, potatoes, and fruit should be mainstays.  

48 hours before races

In the two days before the race, really start to pound those carbs. In order to not totally overwhelm yourself with calories, it’s not unusual for protein and fat to fall by the wayside during these two days. To get into the specifics, aim for a carb intake close to 3.6 to 5.5 grams per pound of body weight in those one to two days immediately before the race.

Good choices are: Sweet potatoes, pastas, baked potatoes, white rice, bagel with banana

The night before the marathon

Don’t overeat. Dinner should be small but carb-heavy. Eat on the early side so you have lots of time to digest. Keep drinking water and electrolyte beverages and avoid salty and high fiber foods.

Examples include: energy bars, bread, cereal, and small sandwiches.

4 hours and less

You should be up early enough before the race to eat a small breakfast with plenty of time to start digestion before the gun goes off.

Bread/toast, bagel, peanut butter, fruit without skin (banana), pulp-free fruit juice or sports drink for a pre-race breakfast. For hydration, drink 500 to 700 ml of fluid about three hours before the race.

Still not sure what you should be eating in the days before the race? Check out this sample meal plan for an average 70 kilogram runner.


  • 1 bagel with 2 tablespoons strawberry jam (71 g)
  • 1 medium banana (27 g)
  • 230 g of fruit yogurt (41 g)
  • 230 ml orange juice C

Morning Snack

  • 2 Muesli bars (29 g)
  • 230 ml Gatorade (14 g)


  • 1 large baked potato with 1/4 cup salsa (69 g)
  • 1 sourdough roll (40 g)
  • 230 ml chocolate milk (26 g)
  • 1 large oatmeal cookie (56 g)

Afternoon Snack

  • 1 Clif Bar (42 g)
  • 230 ml Gatorade (14 g)


  • 1 chicken burrito with rice, corn salsa, and black beans (105 g)
  • 50 gram bag of lollies (50 g)

Carb Total: 611 g

The Best Breakfast Foods for Runners

  • Chicken breakfast sausage
  • Natural uncured bacon
  • High fibre cereal
  • Natural whole almonds
  • Steel cut oats
  • Veggie and herb scrambled eggs
  • Freeze-dried strawberries
  • Organic berry smoothie mix
  • Pancake waffle mix