Carbo-loading is a process that packs extra energy into our muscles and liver. It is basically a two-stage process. – It is actually very simple but many runners get it wrong.
Although as runners we benefit from a high carbohydrate diet, we also need fat and protein in every meal we eat. This is important to understand – If we try to eat meals that are only fat, or only protein, or only Carbohydrate our body becomes confused – it is no surprise that it rebels and often results in watching the race from the bushes.
A good carbohydrate loading programme manipulates the percentages of protein, fat and carbohydrate in each meal but doesn’t exclude any one of these components.
Carbohydrates are foods like: Rice, Pasta, Potatoes, Vegetables, Fruit, jelly babies and sugars. However, Chocolate, Pizza, the sauce used in pastas, beer, larger and wine are NOT good sources of carbohydrate.
To maximize your energy stores start by reducing carbohydrates from Wednesday through to Saturday afternoon of race week. – Don’t’ omit all carbo’s but reduce the amount of bread, fruit and vegetables you eat. Together with the training you will deplete your energy stores.
As soon as you finish Saturdays training session, start carbo loading – from here training is minimal so you will be storing the excess energy.
Of course you still need some protein and fat. The challenge is the amount of carbohydrates that you need to be fully carbo-loaded.
A 70kg runner, needs around 650 grams of carbohydrate each day for 3 days. This is an awesome amount which would require 30 banana’s or 30 baked potatoes or 5 boxes of pasta each day. Obviously this is impractical – which is why it is essential to use a high quality powdered carbohydrate drink, such as carbo train, carbo supreme, or some similar powders.
A 500ml carbo-loading three times each day, you will get over half of the carbohydrate requirements. Being a fluid this is easy to take, and most importantly this provides the water that is needed to store carbohydrate in your muscles. Each gram of carbohydrate needs 3 grams of water to be stored. This is why we put on weight when we carbo-load. However this added water also helps prevent dehydration on race day. We can check our carbo-loading progress by the increase in weight. Expect about 1.5 to 2.0kg increase over the last 4 days.
In order to get the protein and the essential fats substitute one carbohydrate drink with a quality meal replacement drink, such as Metab Elite 40. You will still get the carbohydrate, but importantly, will also be assured of some quality protein and fats to give a balanced diet.
This procedure will ensure that you fill your fuel tanks ready for the 90km run on 16th June. Remember don’t make dramatic changes to your diet, just add two 500ml carbohydrate drinks and one 500ml meal replacement drink for the last three and a half days.