How To Carb Load

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After all the hard work you’ve put into training, the last thing you want to do is to sabotage it by making poor food choices leading up to race day. The most important part of your final preparation before a big race is making sure you’re fueled properly in the days and hours before the start.

The average male athlete can store about 1,500 to 1,900 calories of carbs in the blood, liver and muscles combined. Two hours of exercise can deplete glycogen levels. When you train hard almost every day, your body never gets a chance to fully replenish its glycogen stores before the next workout reduces them again.

Carb-loading starts two days before the race. Rest during these two days allows your muscles to build up plenty of glycogen stores when you consume the proper amount of carbs. When you carb-load, you should eat about 10 grams of carbs per kg of body weight daily in the two days leading up to race day. You won’t need as much protein as usual because you won’t be breaking down those muscles. Don’t go an eat a massive bowl of pasta the night before a race and expect a miracle to happen. This will probably just upset your stomach and shock your body.

For example, I’m 85kg. Typically I would eat my regular diet and reduce my training load in the week before a big race. Then two days before the event I would start eating 850grams of pasta or rice per day along with some protein. (One gram of carbohydrate equals 4 calories, so that would be 3400 calories of pasta per day!). I will also do my pre-race warmup routine (3x1min + 3x30sec) the day before the race. This coincidentally agrees with a popular method discovered by the University of Western Australia

A new carbo-loading regimen developed by scientists at the University of Western Australia calls for a normal diet with light training until the day before the race. On the day before the race, the athlete performs a very short, extremely high-intensity workout (such as a few minutes of sprinting) then consumes 12 g of carbohydrate per kilogram of lean mass over the next 24 hours. The regimen reportedly resulted in a 90% increase in glycogen storage.

Follow this routine along with eating properly on the bike you’ll never bonk again.

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