Carb loading is the term used to describe a popular "ritual" 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 carbo-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.
Pasta is one of the best foods to eat in terms of carb loading. I bring a tub of cold pasta with me when I am traveling to a marathon since I love it and it is a fast way to get carbs. However if you want to obtain carbs from a healthier source then try apples, whole wheat and whole grain breads, and bananas which are known for their high carbohydrate content.
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!
Carbo loading consists of consuming meals that are high in carbohydrates about 5-7 days before a half marathon. The ISSN states that meals should be ~70% carbohydrate in order to optimize glycogen stores in the liver and muscles.
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 our 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 supercompensating effect and follow these guidelines:
Some runners prefer to only do 1 day of carbo-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!
A personal nutrition coach is pricey but you can truly be your own marathon nutrition strategist with our EAT LIKE A MARATHONER Nutrition Course! It is the ultimate guide to eating and fueling for marathon training and race success! It comes with a series of calculators, a 9 step plan to strategize your marathon training nutrition plan + a two step plan to be implemented the week before your marathon! It's easy to get it right with the right tools! Don't be one of the 40% of marathoners who hit the wall! (And that doesn't even count those who drop out of marathon training altogether!)
The Ultimate Guide to eating and fueling for marathon training and racing success! + get access and develop your own personalized marathon nutrition plan to implement before your marathon with our 9 STEP Prep Plan!