nutrition by liz marino 

The Cleveland Marathon is excited to partner with registered dietitian and board certified specialist in sports nutrition,  Liz Marino, RD, LD, CSSD!

As a participant of the Cleveland Marathon, you will have access to nutrition advice, recipes and food/nutrition facts related to health and running.

See Liz's weekly tips below to help set you up for your best race yet! Stay connected to make sure you don't miss out on any valuable information!

Visit the Cleveland Marathon BLOG for all Tips by Liz

You may also find the tips on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages.



Liz Marino Pic

Liz is a Pittsburgh based registered dietitian and board certified specialist in sports nutrition. After graduation from the University of Akron, Liz worked with the athletic department at the University of Toledo developing their sports nutrition program. She's worked with individuals, teams and athletic trainers to educate on the importance of fueling for sport and adopting health-promoting behaviors throughout college life and beyond. While Liz enjoys working with all different athletes, she has a strong passion for working with runners as she is a marathoner herself.

Liz's focus in sports nutrition is teaching how to fuel, recover and maintain a strong nutritional state in order to prevent injury, adapt to training and feel psychologically well so that you can thrive in and beyond your sport.

Liz is currently the Mid-Atlantic Regional Nutrition Manager with the Renfrew Center for Eating Disorders. She has been working on developing and implementing an evidenced-based protocol for addressing exercise in the treatment of eating disorders. She is excited to join the Cleveland Marathon team to educate athletes and promote healthy behaviors in order to enhance performance and improve quality of life.

nutrition weekly tips

January 1
Happy New Year! Looking to run your first half marathon, take on the full or toe the 10k line in Cleveland this year? Congrats on your commitment! New Years is often a time of resolutions and (re) commitment for many people, especially when it comes to health. This year, I challenge you to make a POSITIVE action-based goal instead of a negative one. For example, if you want to start eating more whole grains, a positive goal would be "Increase my whole grain choices for breakfast" whereas a negative goal would be "stop eating cinnamon rolls for breakfast."  Restrictive, rule-based goals can put you in a negative mindset, while setting a goal that puts you in the drivers seat will help you feel success #MINDSETMATTERS

 January 7

Let's talk about health trends...there's so much nutrition information out there, with so many conflicting messages! One day coffee is good, the next it's not. Right now, people are piling on the fat, but not too long ago there was a fat-free frenzy. With all this, it can be easy to get confused and lose trust. The truth is nutrition science is messy. Because we're all a little different, it is very difficult to make generalized "good" and "bad" statements that apply to everyone. What is helpful for someone, might be harmful for someone else. A great example of this is including nuts in your diet. Great for someone who is trying to incorporate healthy fats, not so great for someone with a nut allergy.  Also, because humans are so complex it is difficult to prove causation: saying that changing x, causes y to happen. Nutrition science is great and necessary to further our understanding of the role food plays in health, but often times initial studies that are very specific are interpreted as fact for a large group of people while this might not be the case. So if you see a flashy headline about a new health claim, take a moment before you start that new juice cleanse or cut out a food group and ask yourself the following:
  • Does it sound too good to be true? 
  • Is it a sustainable change?
  • Does it make sense long term for my life?
  • Is it selling a product?
Below is a link to a clip from the host of Last Week Tonight on "Scientific Studies." It's a little less than 20 minutes long, but it worth the watch.
January 14
Cold weather is upon us. Raise your hand if you'd take rosy cheeks and a cold nose over a puddle of sweat any day. Anyone else feel like they don't break as much of a sweat in the winter?  While there are a lot of factors that contribute to fluid loss including individual sweat rate, length of exercise and clothing worn, it may feel like you're not losing as much fluid as in warmer months because sweat dissipates into the cold air quicker than in the heat. You also might not be craving an ice cold water after a workout because colder conditions don't stimulate the drive to drink like hot ones. However, your body still needs fluids to keep you healthy! Make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day in order keep everything from your muscles to your immune system working well. Take your post-run chocolate milk up a notch and warm up with some hot chocolate!

 January 21

Marathoners, training starts soon! We are 16 weeks out from race day-don't let cold and flu season hurt your game! Here are some ways food can help you stay healthy:
  • Drink fluids through the day. Like I mentioned last week, your drive for thirst might be less than you feel it in the heat. Staying hydrated will help you train better, in addition to keeping you flu-free.
  • Pack in those fruits and veggies: It's not just the vitamin C here, my friends. Fruits and veggies are packed with all sorts of different nutrients that aid your immunity.
  • Cut out Crash Diets: These super low calorie diets can compromise your health.
  • Get your vitamin D: Sources include fatty fish (salmon, sardines), fortified OJ, dairy and cereal, egg yolks and mushrooms.
Already feeling down? 
  • Ginger can help combat nausea
  • Turmeric is a known anti-inflammatory 
  • Stay hydrated and make sure to get plenty of rest.

January 28

Headed to or hosting a Superbowl party this weekend? Check out these recipes for some delicious game day dishes that really pack a punch of nutrients! 

Spicy Guacamole 

7-Layer Dip

Sweet Potato Hummus 

Buffalo Chicken Dip 

February 4
I need a detox....from all the diet talk. I'm happy the quick fixes and magic pills of January are slowing down, because they are often missing the big picture. 
Let's get back to basics here. Your body needs calories to work. Calories come from the breakdown of fat, protein and carbohydrates (macro nutrients). Foods that contain carbs, fats and protein also give us essential vitamins, minerals and fiber, which is why it's important to have all the food groups!  While everyone's needs are a little different, try to incorporate the following components on your plate to make sure you're meeting your body's needs. 
  • Grains/Starches (Oats, Wheat, Barley, Rice etc)
  • Protein (Fish, Eggs, Meat, Dairy, Tofu etc)
  • Fat (Oils, Nuts, Seeds etc)
  • Produce (Fruits and Veggies: the more color, the better!)

February 11

Cup of Joe, anyone? 
Don't worry, this isn't a post about coffee being "good" or "bad"...Everyone is different and paying attention to how foods work in your body is important to help you take care of it.  Let's just take a look at how coffee can affect you're game.
  • The caffeine in coffee is stimulant, which is shown to help with exercise performance related to decreased rating of perceived exertion. It may help you feel more awake.
  • The caffeine can act as a diuretic (meaning you'll lose more fluid via urine) BUT only if you don't drink it on a regular basis. If you do, your body is used to it and it is (by nature of being fluid) helpful in hydration. 
Of note: moderate intake of caffeine per day is 250mg...8 ounces of black coffee has about 90mg. 

February 18

Why chocolate milk? A few months ago, there was a post about what's best to eat after a workout and we got many enthusiastic replies about chocolate milk! Chocolate milk if absolutely a great way to replenish and repair after a workout. Why? Because your body needs protein, carbs, vitamins, minerals and fluid to recover before the next workout. What are some other tasty ways can you meet these needs? Salty: Hummus and Pretzels, Popcorn and String Cheese Sweet: Banana and Peanut Butter, Fruit and Yogurt Parfait Crunchy: Trail Mix or Tuna and Crackers On-the-Go: Yogurt -Based Fruit Smoothie or a Granola Bar with Protein

February 25
Sports Drinks: Do I Need Them?

Great question here. Sports drinks contain fluids, electrolytes and carbohydrates. All of these components can be performance-enhancing when used correctly.

In general, the average person doesn't need a sports drink for exercise less than 60 minutes, in normal conditions. As long as you've got water and are going to eat relatively soon after your workout, sports drinks likely won't provide any additional benefits. If you've got a longer session, back-to-back workouts, or are running in high heat, sports drinks can be a convenient way to get electrolytes, fluid and energy (via sugar).
  1. The sugar in sports drinks is used as a readily available source of energy for your muscles so that they can keep working at a high intensity!I In some cases, the presence of these sugars in the mouth can decrease your "rating of perceived exertion" which means you may feel some mental relief from the physical stress of exercise. The theory here is that your central nervous system senses that energy is on the way and your brain can say "keep going!"
  2. The fluid here works like water in the sense that it's there to keep you hydrated, keep your temperature regulated and all for the transport of nutrients through your body.
  3. The electrolytes (for example, sodium) help retain ingested fluids, and is important in maintaining a healthy fluid balance.
So if you've got a long, hot workout ahead, you may consider trying a sports drink and seeing how you feel. As always, see what works for you!

March 4

What is RED-S?
Want to take a moment to bring awareness to Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S). The International Olympic Committee states "The syndrome of RED-S refers to impaired physiological function including ...metabolic rate, menstrual function, bone health, immunity, protein synthesis, cardiovascular health. The underlying problem of RED-S is an inadequacy of energy to support the range of body functions involved in optimal health and performance."  
If you're not giving you body enough energy to support all the things you're asking it to do, somethings going to give. If you're wondering why you're not improving, feel lousy or down, take a look at what you're eating and make sure you're fueling your body. Ask yourself: Am I eating throughout the day?  Do I feel excessively hungry often? Am I choosing a variety of nutrient dense foods? Am I trying to cut calories/could I be cutting too many calories? Would I describe my eating habits as 'restrictive'? 
The chart below illustrates some of the side effects of energy deficiency.  
March 4 Tip

March 11

Nutrient Profile: Vitamin D
Anyone else missing the sunshine here in northeast Ohio? Did you know that sunshine helps your body make Vitamin D?
Many people know about the role of vitamin D in bone health, but did you know that vitamin D functions in some ways like a hormone? In some studies, low vitamin D status is associated with depression. Vitamin D also functions in the skeletal muscle, plays a role in inflammation and your immune system.
It's a pretty important nutrient! While vitamin D supplementation without deficiency is not shown to improve athletic performance, supplementation with deficiency can often be helpful for general health.  Until that sun comes on back, try to incorporate vitamin D-rich foods like fatty fish, egg yolks, mushrooms and fortified milk and talk to your doctor to learn more.

March 18: Iron

Ladies, this one is for you! Let's talk about iron. (Men, you have lower requirements and higher capacity to store iron, so it's likely you're getting what you need.)

Iron is crucial in the making of hemoglobin (which give oxygen to your muscles! It's also used in producing energy. To sum it up- you need it to live and need more to support your running. If you don't have enough in storage, your muscle function and your aerobic training will suffer.

  • Animal sources of iron include red meat, dark poultry, eggs and fish. 
  • Plant sources of iron include tofu/soy, lentils/beans, nuts/seeds and some whole grains (as well as fortified cereals).

Iron from animal sources is more easily absorbed, but you can improve absorption of plant sources by combining them with vitamin C, A, citric acid and/or fermented foods. 

This is as simple as adding an orange to your fortified cereal in the morning!

To Note: there's no medical justification to taking supplements in the absence of low stores, and can cause unwanted GI distress so talk to your doctor if you've been feeling weak, out of breath, lack of appetite or have noticed a higher heart rate. 

This link has the recommended daily amounts based on age and sex, as well as lists of iron-containing foods. Check it out to find sources you enjoy.

March 25: Which Bar When?

The hallmark granola bar. A convenient and delicious way to fuel your body. Some granola bars can help you fuel up for a workout, and others are helpful in recovery post workout. Check out the graph below to help you pick the one that's best for you!

Granola Bar Guide

April 1: Protein Review

I say protein, you think muscle! Of course, most of us know that protein is needed to build muscle... but did you know that it plays a crucial role in your immune system, moving materials through your body, working as part of hormones and allowing muscles to adapt to training (not just by growing muscle size, but making them more efficient at things like using oxygen!)? That's quite a to-do list!

Proteins are made of different combinations of amino acids and are found in animal products like meat, dairy, eggs, fish and plant sources like soy, nuts/seeds, grains, legumes/beans, and some grains. Protein from animal sources are called "complete" since all the essential amino acids are present. Plant sources are "incomplete" because the only contains some amino acids, can be made complete when paired with certain grains (since grains also have amino acids.). These are called complementary proteins. Examples include: pasta + cheese, rice+beans, wheat bread+peanut butter

Your body can't really store protein, so having it throughout the day will be more beneficial than having a giant protein shake at once. Aim to have protein at meals and after a workout, as it will give your body the macro and micronutrients it needs to start repairing the "damage" done with exercise.

While everyone's needs are a bit different, the average endurance runner needs at least one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight (1 kilogram= 2.2lbs)

Key Points: Protein is crucial for health. Aim to eat protein foods throughout the day and especially include it in your post-workout meal or snack. 

April 8: Carbohydrate Facts

Let's talk about the misunderstood, ever important carbohydrate!

Carbohydrates are found in grains, beans/legumes, dairy, fruits and starchy veggies like potatoes and squash. There are a few different types, from the simple sugar in honey to the complex starch in bran. But whether it's a piece of wheat bread or a sweet potato, it's all broken down to glucose at the end of the day. And glucose is the preferred source of energy for our brain and muscles.

Of course, no one would feel good meeting all their carbohydrate needs on honey alone, and eating only starchy veggies can cause GI upset and you may be missing out on the vitamins that grains bring to the table, so having a variety matters. I recommend choosing what you like and what makes your body feel it's best. 

Last week we went over how important protein is...did you know that consuming inadequate carbohydrates will result in your body using protein for energy? We don't want this to happen! Protein already has a lot on it's to-do list, let's make sure we're not adding too much.

Of course, recommendations are never across the board, because we all have different needs. But on an easy training day, the average person needs ~5g/kg body weight, and up to 10 on long/hard training days. For reference, 1 slice of bread has 15 grams.

Sports Nutrition Icon Nancy Clark has a great article talking about carbohydrate myths and facts. To all doubting the importance of carbs, I really recommend checking it out! 

April 15: Vegetarian Recipes

It's both Meatless Monday (the global movement) and Tax here's a week of plant protein-packed meals that won't break the bank!


A North African dish of eggs, tomato and warm, earthy spices....simply made in one pan.

Taco Salad

Taco Tuesday can be prepared in advance with this easy recipe.

Mediterranean Bowls

For when your taste buds want something both refreshing and comforting.

Quinoa Fried Rice

A fun twist on the original, though using rice is just as good for you!

Vegetarian Chili      

Make ahead in the crock pot and come home to a deliciously smoky aroma

April 22: Training your gut: why and how to practice for race day

With 4 weeks until race day, let the long runs commence! 

We all know that training is essential to help prepare the body for race day, but did you know that your gut can be trained just like your muscles? Its true and am important way to get your body ready to face the race. Your body can actually get better at using carbs as energy as fuel with practice. No one likes the feeling of water sloshing around in their belly mid-run, and if you've ever experiences GI distress mid-race, you know you don't want to again.

The best way to avoid this? PRACTICE. Seriously. Set out what gels/food/sports drinks/water you'll have on your training runs, in a way that mimics the race.

The general guidelines about intake during a race is 30-60 grams of carbohydrate every hour and ~6 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes. 

See what works for you. 50/50 gels and drinks? 100% Gel? Simply having ""normal" food? Whatever it is, make sure to practice!

Examples of 30 grams of CHO

  • Sports gel: 1 Packet
  • Sports Drinks: 16 oz 
  • Food: 1/4 cup raisins

April 29: Nutrition in tapering

Tapering is in the near future, depending on your training plan...does anyone else feel like the taper is the hardest part of training? For the times I wonder "is this worth it?," it's helpful to remember the purpose of tapering and to think about as "PRIMING." This takes the focus off of just decreasing miles and puts it in a positive light "preparing to do my best."

Sports nutrition is all about providing your body with the nutrients it needs to help you train and perform your best, and what you eat during the taper matters. Here are three guidelines of how to fuel your body as it gets primed for race day.

Listen to your Body

This is a great tool in general, but can be especially helpful when there's a transition (increasing miles, decreasing miles, travel or anything out of routine). By eating when you're hungry and stopping when you're full- you'll be giving your body what it needs. It's not going to ask for less than you need or more than you need, so pay attention and you'll get what you need. (if you're interested in intuitive eating, see this link for more info.)

Skip the Scale

Side note: I'm often recommend people refrain from checking their weight in general, because healthy behaviors predict positive health outcomes more than a number on a scale. But if you do, you'll likely see your weight go up. When it comes to tapering, your body is trying to repair, rest and refill its glycogen stores. For each ounce of glycogen stored, your body also stores 3 ounces of water. This is a good thing, but can be uncomfortable. So if you step on the scale and your weight is up, that's likely why. Don't try to cut anything out or manipulate the number as that could compromise your ability to perform on race day.

Keep is Similar

Now's not the time to try veganism, try to lose pounds, cut carbs or add any crazy supplements to your diet. Your body can handle fluctuation, but loves routine. Don't put all your hard work on the line by deciding to cut down on fat intake or stop drinking coffee. Focus on getting in all the food groups, with variety and you'll allow your body to do it's thing and prepare for race day!

May 6

Eat pasta, run fasta?

Actually, yes!

You know the feeling of cruising along, mile after mile...until your just can't anymore. You've hit the wall. One reason for this is that your energy stores are low and your body now has to convert fat and protein to fuel (which takes more energy, oxygen and time), forcing you to slow down.

Did you know that you can prevent/delay fatigue by eating during the race (which we talked about 2 weeks ago) and by carbohydrate loading? Carbohydrate loading allows you maximize the amount of energy as glycogen (stored carbohydrate) in your liver and muscles, so that your muscles have steady supply of energy through your race. The good news is, you can store quite a bit. Here's a few pointers on how to fill up those stores:

1. Start increasing intake 48-72 hours in advance...having heaping plates of pasta the night before isn't enough time to fill up your glycogen stores (and will likely leave you feeling groggy and uncomfortable).

2. Aim to have a few servings of carbohydrates at each meal and snack you eat.

3. Stick to low volume for more gastric comfort. Adding honey and raisins to oatmeal instead of doubling your oatmeal serving will be much more forgiving.

May 13

It's almost race day! You've put in the miles - well done! 

Here's the highlights of what to do and what not to do this week to let food help your performance, not get in the way.

  • Stick to What you Know: Don't try anything new. Now is not the time for the cool new sports bar at the expo.
  • Stay Hydrated: Keep a water bottle with you and drink to thirst
  • Fuel Up: Increase your carbohydrate intake 48-72 hours in advance
  • Have a Recovery Plan: Make sure to refuel and rehydrate in order to help your body start to repair, as this is important.
  • Relax and have fun!