Contrary to popular belief, not all carbs are bad. Complex carbs can give you energy, and when you’re a racer, it can decide if you’re going to win or finish dead last. Many racers will load up on carbs to get all the energy they need. But how do you make those carbs count? What foods do you eat?
What’s the difference between a complex carb that gives you energy and an empty carb that will give you nothing but a bigger waistline? In this article, we’ll break it down for you and give you all the information you need to prepare for a big race. And to do that, we need to look at this technique runners do known as carb loading.
Carbs, as you may know, provide energy. In fact, they’re one of the main energy sources if you’re human. If you’re a runner or an athlete who performs for over 90 minutes, carbs will make or break your performance. It allows your body to store more energy so that you can use them when the going gets tough.
According to research, you need to consume more carbs than normal in the day leading to the race if you want to have the best chance of winning.
Why is That?
Carbs increase your glycogen levels. This means that you have more carbs you can use for energy. When your carbs are up, your body will use your muscles to get energy. This takes longer, so you may experience fatigue and slow down during your race. The more carbs you consume, the better you’ll be able to race. Racing teaches your body how to use its energy using oxygen, fat, and carbs. You need to replenish your carbs after every exercise you do, after all.
How Do You Consume More Carbs?
According to common knowledge, you need to go extreme if you want to succeed. Train until all your glycogen levels are depleted, and then a few days before the race you should eat as many carbs as possible. That said, people have been doing that less over the years. People have sleep issues if they consume too many carbs, and many don’t like the acidic feel of having too much pasta sauce when they douse it with pounds of spaghetti.
In all honesty, you don’t need to eat a buffet of pasta if you want to succeed. Instead, add one or two more servings of complex carbs every meal. Perhaps add a half-cup of cereal, rice, plain pasta, a serving of rice, more fruit, another bread slice, or just a small glass of juice. Cut back on carb consumption if you feel bloated, gassy, nauseated, or experience insomnia.
If you eat a lot of carbs, you may put on a few pounds. But don’t fear that. It’s what you want if you want to take the lead when you race. The weight you gain is a storage house for water, glycogen, and a bit of fat. These will be burnt so that you can help reach the finish line.
When Should You Load on Carbs?
For this, you should use your taper week. This is the week before your race when you’re recovering from training. This is the perfect time to get your glycogen levels up to capacity. While you do that, run half of what you did during your training week, and then eat the same amount of calories. In order to balance out your calorie consumption, consume less fat and protein. You need to fuel yourself, after all, so you can spend less time repairing your muscle. Of course, you can add some lean protein to the mix if you want to, and you probably should. Being able to repair your muscles to their best form may help you out during the race.
The night before your race, you should have one last great carb meal. It needs to be easily digestible so that your body fluids are retained and your glycogen levels are the best that they can be. These can help fill all your energy store holes, and help you to manage your energy easier. For best results, don’t eat too much fat. It makes it harder for the body to break down, so cut down on the heavy condiments and meats.
Now it’s time for your big day, and you get another chance to give your body the carbs it needs. Thankfully, breakfast is a time for carbs. Outmeal with brown sugar, bananas, toast, whole grain bread, there are many options. Get as many carbs as you can and make sure that they won’t give you an upset stomach. You don’t want any surprises during your race.
Once the race happens, run as fast as you can and manage your energy. This way, you can find yourself in the finish line before anyone else. It’s all on you. Find the best foods you can eat, and work with it. Eating may take practice, but if you’re able to do so, you can find yourself winning. Eating is just as important as training, so make sure to eat healthy with lots of complex carbs.
So if you’re a runner, don’t be afraid of having too much carbs. Instead, eat healthy, complex carbs and allow your body to get the energy that it needs.