Monday 25 February 2013

Marathon des Sables: nutrition

You've got to carry all your kit with you so what food should you take? Bearing in mind you have to carry a minimum of 2000 calories a day and it's got to be food that you can stomach for a week, it can leave little imaginative choice.

The majority of shufflers go for high energy freeze dried food. There are a range of companies that make this tasty stuff including Expedition Foods, Mountain House , Be well, Extreme Adventure Food and Fuzion.

If you are not worried about a time, take a stove to heat the freeze dried food up. If you are after a fast time, you'll have to go cold turkey, not take a stove and just eat it cold (or borrow someone else's stove). I personally didn't mind the food. If you are hungry anything tastes ok, and you just want to shovel something quick and easy down your neck before crashing out asleep. I managed to eat my freeze dried meals fine up until marathon day five, when I just did not want to eat anything anymore. But everyone is different. As is my advice for most MDS things - try out a couple of meals before you go, and try them out on your stove, so you know how it will all work before you get there. Trust me, trialling it all after 22 miles when you are knackered and a sandstorm is brewing is not so much fun.

The alternative to freeze-dried meals are things like cous cous or noodles. However these won't contain as many calories in them so you'll need to work out how much weight they'll be.

Freeze dried food will take care of the majority of your calories. You'll also need a range of snack foods to eat while on the shuffle, and to break up the monotony of fairly unappetising meals. Some ideas for this include:-
Geo bars or other fruit/nut type bar
Protein bars
Malt loaf
Banana chips
Dried fruit - I loved dried mango
Variety of nuts
Crisps - salt and vinegar in particular
Pepperami - seems to be very popular
Energy gels or shot blocks
Hot chocolate
Fruit cake
Jelly beans

I separated my daily meals into bags so it was really easy to just take out a bag each day and know what was what. Of course, you can swap your snacks about if you're not feeling like it's a flapjack day! I stored all my snacks in my frontbag so they were easily at hand. Don't forget to keep your hand sanitiser close by too and use it before you eat anything.

I've posted here with my exact menus du jour and total number of calories taken.


  1. Nice tips and useful info. Thanks.

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