I'm a small-town Minnesota dietitian and triathlete.
I help endurance athletes reach their performance and body composition goals through a flexible eating style.
Carb loading is an important strategy for endurances athletes to use to make sure they’re adequately fueled before a big race.
This strategy involves consuming a higher amount of carbs than perhaps normal, a few days leading up to your main event.
Some research shows as much as a 2-3% increase in performance following a high carbohydrate intake.
Here is a brief breakdown and guide to carb loading, providing you with tips on implementing it into your current nutrition plan and a sample day with over 500+ grams of carbs.
So let’s get to it.
Eating carb-rich foods prior to race day can help maximize your glycogen stores, which is your source of stored energy.
On the flip side, inadequate glycogen stores on race day can lead to unnecessary fatigue and decreased endurance.
To avoid this, many endurance athletes use carb loading to increase the amount of glycogen stored in their muscles and liver.
These extra glycogen stores can convert into increased stamina and endurance for your upcoming race or big training session.
You want to start loading up on carbs 2-3 days before race day, so plan ahead!
Aim for 3-5 grams of carbohydrates per 1 pound bodyweight.
ex. if you weigh 150 lbs, aim for 450+ grams of carbs each day
Divide your total number of carbs into your typical meal pattern i.e. 3 meals a day + 3 snacks and aim for that # of carbs at each meal.
At first glance, 400+ grams of carbs may sound like a lot. And that’s because it is!
It’s harder than it looks to actually hit those numbers! It’s a lot of food and by the second half of the day, you’ll feel full and tired of eating if you aren’t strategic about it.
Here is a sample plan that will provide over 500+ grams of carbohydrates in one day.
For my world-class pancake recipe, check out this post here!
Total carbs for the day: 500+
Carbohydrate loading is just one nutritional approach you can use to maximize your performance on race day.
Interested in learning more about how to use nutrition to optimize your ability as an endurance athlete? Reach out through this link and let’s chat!
Do you have any questions about carb-loading? Feel free to comment down below!