Carb Loading – A Quick Guide

So I’ve got 7 days until my next half marathon……..you know what that means?

Yes its the week I get to sit on my arse and eat cake. The sport demands it.

Any time anyone in the office looks disapprovingly at the my chips and gravy sandwich I can smile smugly and say ‘I’m carb-loading’

This is why running is the best sport in the world right?

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However people seldom carb load correctly. I know I don’t. After all it takes the fun out of it. I’ve worked extremely hard for the last three years to lose six stone, if I get a ‘week off’ I’m GOING to take it. But if any of you guys want to do it properly here’s how.

 Carb Loading – The Right Way

The science behind carb loading is to fill your glycogen stores as much as possible. The muscles glycogen stores is basically the battery of your muscles. Once the battery’s dead you’re legs tire and stop working.

A normal person has around 1200 kcal worth of glycogen stored in the muscles and liver. If your race uses more than this then you’re gonna need to top them up during the run (ie gels, jelly babies, jaffa cakes)

However you can increase your ‘battery size’. The idea is that that the week before you carb-load you should actually REDUCE your carb intake. Think along the lines Atkins/Ketogenic/Dukan diets. This convinces your body it needs to store more carbohydrate so that when you carb load you can make the most of it.

The following week of stuffing your face means that your glycogen stores are filled to capacity for your race. The best carbs to eat are slow release ones (so called ‘clean carbs’) , such as brown rice, pasta, quinoa, blah blah blah, all the boring healthy stuff that isn’t cake.

Bear in mind not to over do it, as putting on extra weight race week also isn’t a great idea. Running with extra body fat means we have to work harder, therefore burn more calories per hour and undo all the good work you did filling those glycogen stores as they empty faster.

That doesn’t mean you have to avoid the chocolate, just remember a little goes a long way!

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