When it comes to major athletic events, it is important for athletes and the weekend warriors to understand not only the importance of carbohydrate loading, but how to properly and safely carb load.
Carb loading has been scientifically proven to increase levels of muscle glycogen storage and is best used in athletic events that require increased levels of continuous energy expenditure. Examples of individuals that would benefit from carb loading prior to a major event include distance runners, swimmers, bicyclists, tri-athletes, and cross-country skiers. Also, athletes that perform continuous yet stop and go sport play, such as soccer, lacrosse, and tournament play tennis, can also reap the benefits of carb loading.
Carb loading should occur 3-7 days prior to the major athletic event (also important to taper exercise during this time period). The amount of carbs that an individual should consume differs dependent upon the size of the athlete. It is recommended that the individual should consume 6-8 Grams or 8-10 Grams per Kilogram of body weight dependpent upon the type of endurance event (kilograms can be found by dividing your body weight by 2.2), which should account for 70-80% of your caloric intake. It is crucial for the individual to ensure they are receiving the daily dietary requirements for protein and fat, still. It is also extremely important to not consume excess calories with carbohydrate loading. The only shift in caloric intake should occur with the percentage of carbs taken in compared to the regular diet.
Example: 3 days prior to event – weight 160 pounds = 72 Kilograms (160/2.2) = 432 Grams of Carbohydrates throughout day (72 x 6).
Timing the carbohydrate loading stage also plays a major role in the individual’s performance. The last large meal should occur 15 hours prior to the athletic event. The individual in training should also have a small carbohydrate based breakfast 3-4 hours before the event.
Recommended Schedule: 7 Days Prior to Athletic Event
Day 1: Depletion Exercise (optional)
Day 2: Mixed diet, moderate carbohydrate intake, tapering exercise
Day 3: Mixed diet, moderate carbohydrate intake, tapering exercise
Day 4: Mixed diet, moderate carbohydrate intake, tapering exercise
Day 5: High Carbohydrate Diet, tapering exercise
Day 6: High Carbohydrate Diet, Tapering Exercise or Rest
Day 7: High Carbohydrate Diet, Tapering Exercise or Rest
Day 8: Athletic Event/Competition
As always, feel free to consult our MidwestFit Team with any questions or concerns!