The Truth About Carbo Loading

15 Apr


photo courtesy of ex.libris

For all of you Boston Marathon participants (or admirers) we decided to look back at the history of carbo loading in all of its delicious glory. Cause who doesn’t want an excuse to eat mountainous heaps of pasta and gorge themselves on upper crust pizza?

The notion of carbo-loading has been around since the 1960s. Scandinavian researches discovered that when men ate a diet high in carbs over several days, the glycogen stores in their muscles skyrocketed. In layman’s terms- the subject’s endurance times were significantly extended.

Studies in the 1980s refined the original concept of carbohydrate loading to the idea we’re familiar with today: Three days prior to a competitive endurance event (lasting for 90 minutes or more) ease up on training regimens while simultaneously boosting carb intake. But don’t plan on binging on lasagna at 9 pm the night before the Boston Marathon. New studies show carbo loading less than 24 hours before the event decreases its effectiveness. Running 26 miles with a stomach full of half-digested mac and cheese? Not a great idea.

photo courtesy of shoothead

Does it really work? The answer is yes. Studies show that if you exercise at a steady pace, carbo loading will typically increase endurance by around 20%. So if you plan on running all 26. 22 miles of the Boston Marathon, carbo-loading can almost push you past the 20 mile mark. That means Heartbreak Hill. 

Dont forget, running a marathon doesn’t give you carte blance to eat junk food. So try and stick to whole grains for even more energy.


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