The right way to carb load

Shutterstock Wholemeal PastaImage – Handmade Pictures.

A common question asked by many runners is whether or not to load up on carbs before race day. Beginners, in particular, may feel as though they’re not seasoned enough and so may not consider a healthy carb-loaded meal the night before.

But whether you’re a hardened professional or a Saturday parkrunner, it could make all the difference.

Carbohydrates are known to fill you up and provide long lasting stamina needed to get you through your next day’s race, be it 5kms or 100kms.

Scientifically, the organic compound contains hydrogen and oxygen, and typically can be broken down to release energy in the body.

While carbs are fantastic for a runner to fuel up on, choosing the right carbs, condiments is important.

So before you pile up your plate with delicious creamy pasta the night before an event, here are a few reminders:

  • Carbohydrates are great for energy, but take longer for the body to digest. To prevent feeling stodgy after a pre-race load up, be sure to have a serve consistent with what you would have on a regular night.
  • You may be tempted to eat extra in the hope you will just burn it off the next day. Keep your serving reasonably sized and you will feel lighter the next morning and ready to tackle the steepest hill.
  • Fibre is not your friend pre-race, unless you want to be racing to the closest portaloo the whole time. Fibre will aid in digestion and clean you out – completely. Awesome to keep you regular, but maybe we don’t want to be too regular on the morning of a big event.
  • Like most runners there are bound to be somee pre-run jitters, which could lead to a more sensitive than usual belly. Considering this, it is best to avoid dairy before a run. Too much dairy can cause tummy upsets and may encourage the dreaded ‘runners trot’.

So what is the best thing to be devouring in preparation for the next day?

  • Protein is great for long lasting energy, salmon, lean meats and eggs. 100gm portions are perfect.
  • Combine your protein with a small amount of carbs – wholemeal pasta, brown rice, sweet potato or cous cous (about one cup or less).
  • Non-fibrous vegetables are great – zucchini, tomato, carrot, capsicum and peas (as many as you like). Not too many leafy greens.
  • Tomato based sauces and homemade pestos are a great accompaniment.

Prior to the next race remember these few tips and you will be fighting fit with energy to boot.


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