Health and fitness enthusiasts have come a long way in creating different nutritional plans and workouts that target specific purposes. They all share a common goal of keeping an individual healthy, but different concerns call for specific solutions. You might have heard of the keto diet, the Atkins diet, the paleo diet – all of which focus on weight loss. However, there are diets that focus more on energy storage and endurance training.
What is Carb-loading?
The origins of carbohydrate-loading, or more popularly called, carb-loading can be traced back to as early as 1967. It was developed by Gunvar Ahlborg, a Swedish physiologist who discovered the positive effects of glycogen in relation to endurance sports. Glycogen, found in the muscles and the liver, is the storage form of the carbohydrates we consume.
What is the purpose of carb-loading?
To put it simply, this diet aims to improve a person’s endurance by filling up on as many carbohydrates as possible before an endurance event. The abundance in carbohydrates means the body won’t have to depend on fat for energy. Additionally, carbs help in hydration. It is found that there is four times as much amount of water per glycogen stored. If you plan to join marathons, swimming, and cycling events, this may be the perfect diet to keep you from getting cramps and fatigue early.
How is carb-loading done?
The most effective way to do carb-loading is by starting as early as 4-6 weeks before your high-endurance event. While the brunt of the work is done a week prior, it is important to get your body accustomed to this diet early. This huge allowance in time can also help you determine which foods agree with your stomach. Opt for foods that are low-fat and low-fibre as they are easier to digest. The most recommended food for carb-loading is pasta, whole wheat bread, whole grain cereals, and low-sugar fruits.
The most crucial period of carb-loading starts a week before your event. During this period, you should already have a solid meal plan with the food you can easily acquire on the days leading to your event. In the 2-3 days prior, adjustments to your diet should be taken into action. By this time, your meal plan should consist of 85-95% carbs. It would be ideal to eat after your runs as this is the optimum time for your muscles to store glycogen. Try to eat earlier the night before your event to give your body enough time to digest the food. For breakfast, it’s best to eat a high-carb meal about three hours before your event.
What is the Golden Rule in Carb-Loading?
The golden rule in carb-loading is that… There is no one rule in carb-loading. Different bodies and different high-endurance activities require different nutritional plans. Taking time to know what’s best for you a long way before your event is better than following a single diet regimen. Consulting an experienced dietitian and hiring a seasoned personal trainer can also greatly benefit you in knowing what diet tailors to your needs.