Pre-Marathon Carb Loading
Your body can only store enough glycogen for about 90 minutes of activity; this is the carbohydrate that is used for energy. Without consuming extra during your long runs and marathons you could face ‘hitting the wall’. During your training you will have tried different options which may include energy gels,
drinks, and pieces of fruit. Foods that will break down quickly into your blood stream and sustain your energy requirements during the event.
Initally‘carb loading’ for an event followed a period of ‘carb stripping’. However it was found that this approach could be detrimental to athletes, affecting mood and tiredness. So now, about 3 days before you can ‘top up’ your stores by upping the proportion of carbohydrates you consume. This doesn’t mean eating endless bowls of pasta as complex carbohydrates are found in a variety of sources and we have listed some ideas below.
To give you an idea of the amount you should be consuming a common diet includes about 5g to 7g of carbs per 1kg of bodyweight, per day, or ‘about’ 60% of your daily calorie intake.
During carb loading phase aim to increase to 8g to 10g per 1kg of bodyweight. Remember that this doesn’t mean upping your calorie intake on the whole; just switching the balance in the three days before your event.
Aim to eat small amounts regularly and consider protein rich foods to accompany the carbs which will slow down the rate the carbs breakdown and therefore release their energy more slowly.
Don’t be fearful that the scales show a ‘weight gain’ as glycogen also holds about 3g of water per gram consumed, so you may well see a 1kg to 2kg increase, but this will disappear as you utilise the stored glycogen during your event.
Foods and snacks that are high in complex carbohydrates include:
- Cereals with milk
- Brown Rice with chicken breast or salmon steak
- Pasta carbonara
- Handful of raisins
- Slices of bread with honey
- Peanut butter on wholegrain toast
- Rice cakes
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