We have heard of the term Carb Loading’. Especially, those who have just taken to long distance running or cycling or mountain climbing. However, there are many questions on who, what, why, when, where and how should one do carb loading also known as ‘Super Compensation’. It is a strategy (yes you may call it a strategy!) that involves changes to training and nutrition which can maximize muscle glycogen stores prior to an endurance competition. It apparently also means reducing training load and resting the muscles to allow them to become completely loaded with glycogen. Let me highlight resting, which means involving in (low to moderate intensity exercise) which is as important as eating.
Now the question is –who should really do it!
Carbohydrates is considered the primary fuel for any physical activity. Our body usually has enough carb stores to utilize for short term exercises. Shorter term exercise is unlikely to benefit as the body’s usual carbohydrate stores are adequate.
However, when it comes to engaging in long, intense athletic events, your body needs extra energy to keep going. So basically, any one exercising continuously for 90 minutes or longer is likely to benefit from Carbohydrate loading. Sports such as cycling, marathon running, longer distance triathlon, endurance swimming and so on do require carbo loading so that the athletes can pull along the event with sustained energy along with minimal fatigue.
Normal muscle glycogen stores are usually in the range of 100-120 mmol/kg ww (wet weight) and it is expected to reach up to 150-200 mmol/kg/ww with proper carb loading. This extra supply of carbohydrate dramatically improves endurance of athletes! So yes it’s quite a fact that it works!
How it should be done!
Trust me it’s simple, since it’s all about carbs and rest!
Three to four days prior to the event, shoot up your carbohydrate intake to about 10 to 12 grams per kilogram of your body weight.
Reduce your training sessions.
And most important, rest completely the day before your big event.
Basically, 3-4 days of exercise taper while following a high carb diet, means you have successfully managed to elevate muscle glycogen levels.
What best to eat?
You should opt for simple carb rich foods like white rice, oatmeal, bread, pancakes, bagels, whole wheat bread and pastas, rotis, broken wheat like daliya, potato, peanut butter, dosas, Idlis, fish, chicken, rajma, chickpeas. Hummus is again a super power food.
Yoghurt is a great option too. Try to drink fruit juices instead of whole fruit during carb loading for best results.
Choose foods that are low in fiber and easily digestible.
Also, avoid high fat foods like cheese, butter, ghee, fried food or processed food to compensate for the extra carbohydrate-rich foods. Since your body requires more oxygen to your cells, too much of fat like cheese may actually slow u down as it makes the body acidic which hinders the oxygen supply to your cells.
Common Mistakes made while carb loading!
Carb loading requires an exercise taper. If u don’t rest, then it won’t turn out well!
In order to consume the necessary amount of carbohydrate, it is necessary to cut back on fiber and make use of compact sources of carbohydrate, such as sugar, cordial, jam, honey, jelly, tinned fruit. High fiber foods may be too bulky to consume at times.
Carb loading will most likely cause body mass to increase by approximately 2 kg. This extra weight is due to extra muscle glycogen and water. For some athletes, a fear of weight gain may prevent them from carb loading adequately.
Consuming too much high fat foods will make it difficult to consume sufficient carbohydrate. It may result in gaining body fat.
The bottom line is to eat to high-carb, low fat foods while carbohydrate loading!