Saturday, April 29, 2006

Latest on Carbo Loading

The bowl of spaghetti before the race is commonplace but how did it get that way? An article from has a brief recap of the original study and brings you up to date with the latest thinking on this topic.
I recommend reading the whole article but for those who just want the "last word", I would summarize it as follows:
  • In preparation for the race/event, do your normal training, then taper appropriately
  • During your taper period, ensure that you switch to a high carb diet. Don't add calories, just switch to higher carbs, reducing fats and proteins proportionately
  • During the morning on the day before the race/event perform
    • a short-duration, high-intensity workout consisting of two and a half minutes at 130 percent of VO2max (about one-mile race pace) followed by a 30-second sprint.
  • During the next 24 hours consume
    • 12 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of lean muscle mass.
They reinforce the hard/easy training concept:
When you exercise vigorously almost every day, your body never gets a chance to fully replenish its glycogen stores before the next workout reduces them again. Only after 48 hours of very light training or complete rest are your glycogen levels fully compensated.
They also add a disclaimer that
carbo-loading in general has been shown to enhance race performance only when athletes consume little or no carbohydrate during the race itself. If you do use a sports drink or sports gels to fuel your race effort -- as you should -- prior carbo-loading probably will have no effect.
So if you don't do carbs during the race, carbo loading is the way to go. You can use the original (Ahlborg), modified (No Depletion), or latest method (Western Australia) summarized here.
Have a good run!
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