Endurance events such as marathons, Triathlons, and such like, are currently more popular than ever. These sporting disciplines are not only enjoyable in a tortuous kind of way, they’re also a great way of keeping yourself fit and healthy, and seeing how physically and mentally strong you are. Many endurance athletes before a big event however, will take the time to sit down the night before and stuff their faces will kinds of delicious carby delights. This is known as carb-loading, or carbo loading in some circles, and it is the art of loading up on carbohydrates in order to saturate the cells in your muscles with glycogen. This is basically the equivalent of filling up the car with fuel before embarking on a long road trip. There is an art to carb-loading however, so here are some dos and don’ts to ensure you do it correctly before a big event.
Don’t leave it too late – Some endurance athletes have made the mistake of eating their carbohydrates too late before an event. Rather than loading up on carbs the night before an event and then topping them up in the morning, they have instead sat down and had an enormous, starchy, carbohydrate-heavy breakfast. All this does is leave them feeling sick, sluggish, and lethargic. If you imagine running a 10K race on a full stomach you can imagine how awful they felt when they set off. Start early in the evening two nights before the event, and have a reasonably-sized carby breakfast the next day, and repeat.
Don’t stuff your face with everything in sight – Okay, the good thing about carb-loading is the fact that you can eat plenty of delicious carbs like pasta, rice, oats, and breads etc. It does not mean that you can hit the all-you-can-eat buffet and pig out until you feel sick. You still need to choose carbs and dishes that offer nutrients and additional benefits.
Do stick with foods you know you tolerate well – Forget what some Intsa-famous nutritionist on social media is telling you to eat when carbing up, and instead go with foods you know you tolerate well. Most people choose pasta over rice, but if you know that you digest rice well and seem to perform better after eating rice then you choose rice over pasta. Remember which foods you tolerate the best and perform most effectively after consuming and eat those. All bodies are different, so listen to yours and nourish it with what it tends to prefer the most.
Prepare your breakfast in advance – The day of the race you’ll be stressed, you’ll be anxious to get started, and you’ll be looking to get out there and do your stuff as soon possible. The last thing you want to be doing is cooking oats, chopping bananas, washing pots and pans, and waiting for the food to cool down before eating. The night before the event, prepare your breakfast so that it’s ready to go as soon as you wake up. Cooking/soaking the oats the night before will also make them easier to eat and digest.