Diet for Marathon Runners – Salt

What about salt?

Many foods contain salt. If you add salt in excess to your meals or consume foods very high in salt you may be getting too much. This can disturb calcium balance and, in some people, can contribute to high blood pressure.
Even though as an athlete you sweat a lot you will not usually require extra salt as the food you eat after exercising usually replaces the salt lost in sweat. (Note: There maybe exceptions for some athletes competing in hot, humid conditions and/or where total sweat lost is large).
It is undesirable to cut salt out of your diet completely, instead, try to reduce your intake.

Hints to reduce salt intake

  • Use herbs and spices to flavor meals.
  • Reduce salt added when cooking meals.
  • Reduce salt added at the table.
  • Limit salty snacks, for example, salted nuts, pretzels, potato chips, some crackers, preserved meats like salami, corned meat, processed cheese spreads and some canned foods like canned soup.
  • Choose pre-prepared foods, drinks and snacks that are low in fat (especially saturated fat) and salt.
  • Take-out, fast foods, and high fat, high salt snack foods are often the easier alternative when you run out of time. Choose healthier options.

Healthier fast foods include:

  • Sandwiches and filled rolls with salad and lean meat. Ask for no margarine or butter.
  • Fruit
  • Yoghurt
  • Sushi
  • Kebabs
  • Chow mein
  • Hamburgers (when choosing at the fish and chip shop).
  • Subway instead of McDonalds, Burger King, Wendies etc


Alternatively if you have a little more time to make your own home-made fast foods like hamburgers, pizzas, burritos, tortillas and baked stuffed potatoes using low-fat ingredients. Home-made fast foods are quick to make, cheap and taste even better than the bought variety.

Healthier snacks include:

  • English muffins, toast or pita breads with toppings like jam, relish, tomato, cottage cheese, baked beans, spaghetti or corn.
  • Crackers (rice and/or water crackers) with relish, cheese, sliced cucumber and tomato.
  • Fruit bread.
  • Toasted sandwiches with spaghetti, baked beans, banana or creamed corn.
  • Breakfast cereal.
  • Fruit smoothie.
  • Soup.

Maintain a healthy body weight with regular physical activity and healthy eating.
People come in all shapes and sizes. By taking part in regular exercise and following healthy eating patterns you will be at a healthy body weight that suits you. As a marathon runner you generally should be better position than most in this regard.