Carbohydrate Loading 101
How should you prepare for an endurance race?
Carbohydrate loading is a great way to build up glycogen stores in your body for your muscles to use while participating in endurance activities like running.
What is glycogen? Glycogen is the storage form of carbohydrates in your body. It’s what the body uses for energy when exercising. In other terms, glycogen is glucose which comes from the carbohydrates that you eat. Glycogen stores are essential for humans to use for energy. When you run out of glycogen stores your body looks for other sources of energy such as fat and protein. In many instances, endurance athletes don’t want to lose protein or the essential fat they have because they have a lean body mass.
What types of carbohydrates should you eat? Complex carbs are a good source of energy and are found in foods such as pasta, rice, and other whole grains. Try to avoid simple carbohydrates like sugar, candy, and lactose in milk. These sources will burn away quickly leaving your body without glycogen stores.
To appropriately carbohydrate load I suggest eating complex carbohydrates two meals out of the day for two to three days. This will drastically increase your glycogen stores which will enhance athletic performance.
Reference: Mayo Clinic