The idea behind carbohydrate loading is to help really load your muscles with glycogen. What this does is to help delay the fatigue you may normally feel and help you to have a much higher intensity exercise for a longer period of time.
If you are competing for any amount of time over 90 minutes your normal glycogen amount will not be enough to sustain you to exercise. When you do carbohydrate loading you are increasing the stored amount of glycogen by 200-300%. This allows you, the athlete, to not grow tired as quickly and allow you to maintain your intense exercise for a longer period of time.
It isn’t a good idea to do carbohydrate loading for sports or any short duration event or those with strict weight criteria.
How do you carbohydrate load?
• Carbohydrate loading is considered an exaggerated training diet that is high in carbohydrates.
• When you get down to the last three to four days of training before your event you should taper down your exercise while increasing the amount of carbohydrates you are intaking to about 9 – 10 grams of carbohydrates per kilograms of body weight.
• When it comes to carbohydrate loading you want to increase your carbohydrate intake without increasing energy intake.
• In your diet, the easiest way to increase carbohydrates is by replacing the fat in your diet with carbohydrates.
• Another way to increase carbohydrate intake is to include carbohydrate supplements.
• When you compete regularly you may carbohydrate load at various degrees depending on the competition and its importance.
Steps to follow when carbohydrate loading
• When you are training following a high carbohydrate nutritional plan is important.
• The three to four days before an event tapering down the usual exercise route is important. You may want to consider using this time to fine-tune your skills and focus mentally.
• Also consider replacing most of the fat in your diet with carbohydrates the three to four days before you compete. This idea of eating more carbohydrates also allows you to keep the same amount of energy.
• Another way to increase your carbohydrate intake is to use carbohydrate supplements, which include sports drinks and possibly liquid meal replacements.
• It is important to drink plenty of fluids. Your body will store the water with the extra carbohydrates.
• You will need to expect some weight gain because of the extra water you are storing.
• Your training diet needs to include nutrient-rich carbohydrates. These types of carbohydrates include things like bread, cereal, pasta, fruits, vegetables, and rice.
• When you are carbohydrate loading for training you can use carbohydrates that are not as bulky or nutrient dense to reach your carbohydrate target. Some examples may include things like sports drinks, fruit juice, fruit with added sugar, various sugars, honey, jams, and even sweetened soft drinks.
• You should consider making the most of the carbohydrates you have in your meal. Instead of serving lasagna, which is only a small amount of pasta, you might serve pasta with a tomato sauce.
• Foods like potato chips, cakes, cookies, etc are not food to eat for carbohydrate loading. These types of foods are usually high in hidden fat and not really high in carbohydrates.
• It is important to plan your meals and fluids before a competition. The reason for this is to make sure your liver and muscle glycogen stores are topped off and that your blood glucose is ready for the competition along with making sure you are as hydrated as possible. Doing this will help you from having an upset stomach and not becoming hungry during the competition.
• You need to work on what works for you when it comes to carbohydrate loading during your training, long before you get to race day.