Carb loading is the term used to describe a popular practice among marathoners that involves eating a meals high in carbohydrates, days before a big race.
The science behind it is that carbohydrates are the main macro-nutrient that fuels our energy during a long distance run.
If by “loading up” on carbs before a race, the body should have maximum stores of carbohydrates to be turned into glycogen which will be stored in the muscles and used during our runs to keep supplying us with energy and ultimately give us the ability to run far and fast.
That was a mouthful. But essentially this is the reason behind all of those spaghetti dinners that races hold generally the night before the race.
There are people who argue about whether carb loading really helps or not.
In a half marathon it can be questionable as studies conflict on whether carbo-loading is really helpful or not. During marathons though it seems to hold fast that carbo-loading is indeed beneficial. So break out the bagels.
I would definitely suggest implementing carbo-loading in your that in your pre-race week nutrition. It can definitely make a difference in your performance!
Pasta is one of the most common foods to eat when it comes to carb loading.
However, there are many awesome sources of carbohydrates to choose from:
I have a sample 3-Day Carbo-Loading Menu Plan here for you to use or get ideas from!
Here is also a Meal Prep Ideas for the week before a marathon to also give you some inspiration!
Carbo loading consists of consuming meals that are high in carbohydrates about 5-7 days before a marathon.
The ISSN states that meals should be about 70% carbohydrate in order to optimize glycogen stores in the liver and muscles.
Here are the ISSN's guidelines:
For more information on carbo-loading + a detailed guide on the 5 day and 1 day carboloading plan & everything you need to know about marathon nutrition check out in my EAT LIKE A MARATHONER Nutrition Course!
It takes some experimenting to figure out how to carbo load and you don’t want to affect your body negatively if you are not used to loading it with carbs.
So as a beginner, skip the super-compensating effect and follow these guidelines:
Some runners prefer to only do 1 day of carb-loading the day before their race and then focus heavily on there race refuel plan during the marathon itself so as to avoid hitting the wall.
If you would prefer to do this then aim for at least 10 grams of carbohydrates for every kilogram of body weight that day before your marathon.
Also be sure to nail that Pre-Race Meal!
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