Let’s Get Real About Carb Loading: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

carb loading

Load up before you work out! More people are asking about carbo-loading and whether it can help fuel your next intense workout.

According to this research, competitor sports players were able to match their previous day’s performance.

When they didn’t carbo-load, these same players were unable to match the previous day’s performance due to fatigue.

Load up!

Here’s everything you need to know about carb loading. Take a bite out of this guide to learn the good and the bad before carbo-loading on your own.

The Good

What exactly is carb loading?

Carbohydrate loading involves maximizing your glycogen stores. Your body can only store so much carbohydrate as energy. Maximizing these stores can help you delay fatigue and improve your physical performance. 

During a race, your body burns both fat and glycogen. If there’s not enough fat, your body has to work extra hard to generate the fuel it needs. This process can cause your body to slow down while it tries to burn that fat. 

Many marathon runners use carbo-loading to give their bodies the fuel they need before a big race.

That doesn’t mean you should have a hefty bowl of spaghetti before bed, though.

How to Carbo-load

Instead, a carbo-loading plan requires your attention for 48 hours before the big event. You also shouldn’t stuff yourself, which could leave you feeling bloated and heavy.

The amount of carbs you need depends on the physical activity and your body weight. Aim for 4 grams of carbs for every pound of body fat.

While you’re carbo-loading, try to keep fat levels and fiber levels low in each meal.

This can help ease food through your gut. You also won’t have to worry about excessive bathroom breaks right before your race.

If you’re gearing up for a marathon, carbo-loading can help you stay energized while promoting muscle glycogen production.

For the optimal amount of stored muscle glycogen, your run should last about 90 minutes or more.

Try eating 7 to 10 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram body weight before the race. 

The Bad

For starters, you’ll probably notice an increase in body mass. This becomes a concern for many runners who feel lagged down by the additional weight.

Many people also make the mistake of mixing carbs with heavy fats.

High fats such as butter, cheese, and oils fill you up too fast. Once you’re full, your body will take longer to digest the fats instead of carbs. This could even cause GI issues or an injury during your race.

Other mistakes include:

  • Carbo-loading when you don’t need to
  • Eating too much fat or fiber
  • Eating the wrong amount of carbs (remember, it’s based on your weight)
  • Eating new or unusual foods
  • Loading too long

Before you start carbo-loading, speak with a doctor to make sure you make the right plan.

The Truth About Carb Loading

Now that you know the truth about carb loading, you can make a carbohydrate diet plan before your next race!

Run towards our gift ideas today to inspire your endurance!