Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Carb loading before a marathon: myth or truth?

Last Updated Dec 2008


Q: I am fitness professional, and I'd love to get an answer to this: Most sports books and fitness magazines often highlight the importance of loading up an athlete or runner's body with carbs prior to performing their marathon or competition. I personally find the idea a bit unrealistic and counter-productive. I would like to find out Dr Sears’ and his team's opinion and views on this matter and what's the best nutrition preparation they suggest for someone's body prior and after such event.

Many thanks, Massimo
 
Dear Massimo,
 
A: Carbohydrate loading is a continuing myth that will not die. For a typical marathon, the runners are rarely working out hard the few days before the race so their glycogen levels are already loaded. Eating a massive amount of carbohydrates prior to the race raises insulin levels that will prevent the release of stored body fat for energy that is needed in such a long-distance race. In reality, one should be fat-loading the muscle cells with a higher-fat diet so that the mitochondria in the muscles can readily convert the fat droplets to chemical energy (ATP) required for muscle contraction.   
 
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