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Marathon Des Sables® diet

What should I take for one week race in the desert?

During the MDS® the runner must have a minimum total weight of 6.5 kg. The important is to have 14.000 kcal, which will decrease each day around 2000 kcal and it’s equivalent weight approx. 500gr or 600gr/day in your bag.

Everything must be well planned and trained.

The runner must train with his bag, shoes, socks…but his principal objective here is think about hydration, food and supplements for this race. That means nutritional requirements during  the desert run, like having a quick digestion, lots of calories in few aliments and easily absorbed without gastrointestinal complications. The supplementary food is very important in this kind of race.

Normally many runners will carry more than 6,5 kg during the Marathon des Sables®, but its important to know the weight limit and the rules because each day the organizers will control the runner’s bag.

What should the runner bring for this week race?

The runner couldn’t forget the base rule to have energy and succeed during this marathon:

  1. Provide carbohydrates to maintain adequate blood glucose concentration and delay the depletion of glycogen stores.
  2. Replenishment of electrolytes, especially sodium.
  3. Fluid replacement to prevent dehydration.
  4. After each stage day race take also some protein and amino acids to recovery muscle.
  5. If the runner does it, it’s no mystery, he can enjoy the race and finish all course with health.

Some examples of what to bring during the Marathon des Sables® for breakfast:

  • Cereals or oats.
  • Nuts (cashews, peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts).
  • Cappucino in powder.
  • Dates.

15 min before race departure:

1 gel.

During the stage day of Marathon des Sables®:

  • Electrolytes (mineral salt).
  • Energy bars.
  • Gels.
  • Dry fruits (dates, raisins, prunes).
  • Honey.

Lunch time (after the stage day race):

  • Electrolytes (mineral salt).
  • Amino acids (BCAA and Glutamina).
  • Lyophilized food.
  • Nuts.

Dinner time (after the stage day race):

  • Cuscus or mashed potatoes.
  • Dry cheese or dry meat (ham, chorizo).
  • Soup in powder.

During the long stage (day 4) probably the runner needs something else to eat as a solid food.

Maybe can be the  lyophilized food if it’s quickly to prepare and the runner doesn’t need hot water. Otherwise the runner can take some cereals with dry fruits. Important to bring a bit of oil, salt and pepper then the ultra runner can cook his meal using it. Also one peace of garlic and ginger because they works as a natural anti-inflammatory.

Remember the basic rules for an ultra runner

15 minutes before departure:

Eat something between 30-50g of carbohydrate such as a bar, a gel or dry banana.

During the race:


Usually the best quantity is between 30-60g of carbohydrate per hour of racing.

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