Whether you’re a seasoned athlete and exercise enthusiast, or just beginning your journey towards a healthier lifestyle, you’ve probably heard of “carb loading.”
The idea behind carb loading is simple – the day before a big race or a long training session, you consume a large amount of carbohydrate-rich foods. This is supposed to ensure that your body’s glycogen stores are maximized, resulting in better athletic performance.
But is carb loading really beneficial? In this article, Devel Fitness will take a look at the fact (and fiction!) about carb loading.
- Carb Loading Is Not Necessary For Every Race
Glycogen is our body’s natural “gas tank” – and even without carb-loading, glycogen stored in our liver will provide us with enough energy for about 60-90 minutes of high-intensity exercise.
What does this mean for you? Well, if your race won’t be longer than 90 minutes, carb loading is unnecessary. If you’re just running a short 5K or 10K, a shorter bike race, or a sprint triathlon, carb loading won’t do anything for you.
Conversely, carb loading is very helpful for longer races such as half-marathons. So if you’re doing a longer race, load up on carbs – but don’t worry about it for a shorter race or training session.
You Should Carb Load For At Least 2 Days
Carb loading takes time. Just eating a carb-heavy diet for 1 day before your race won’t do much for you. Ideally, you should be eating a diet of around 75% carbohydrates for at least 2 days before a big race, or a long training session.
But don’t carb load for too long. Carb loading for 3-7 days will have a minimal beneficial effect. Aim for 2 days of a carb-heavy diet, and you won’t go wrong!
Skip The Pasta – Choose Complex Carbs
Simple carbohydrates are processed very quickly, and can lead to blood sugar spikes, which are bad news when you’re getting ready for a big race.
Instead of simple carbs from sources such as pasta, fruit juice, and white bread, choose carbs from multigrain cereals, yogurt, oats, whole fruit, and brown rice.
Don’t Skip Your Race-Day Breakfast
Some athletes tend to skip their race-day breakfast when carb-loading. But this last-minute injection of carbs can be very beneficial, and keep your energy levels steady during a long race.
If you don’t tend to have much of an appetite early in the morning, consider drinking a smoothie, a few pieces of fruit, or a bowl of plain oatmeal. You’ll get that extra “boost” you’ll need to reach peak performance!
Follow These Carb Loading Tips – And Get Ready To Rock Your Race!
A full carb loading regimen is only necessary for longer races. But you should still try to eat a carb-heavy diet before any race, to ensure that you’ve got the energy you need!
So follow these carb loading tips from Devel Fitness, and get ready to blow your PR away in your next race! Interested in learning more about fitness and nutrition? Take a look at our past posts about athletic nutrition!
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