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Carbo Loading


Just wondering what your thoughts are on Carbo Loading, have any of you tried CL and what positive/negative effects did you see?

I know there are various methods, depletion, non depletion and the burst of exercise 24hours before method.

I was thinking of adopting one of these prior to London, but without ever CL before obviously I dont want it to have a negative affect on my peroformance




  • paulfitzpaulfitz Posts: 67
    i take a very low-tech view of this.

    Up the amount of pasta etc I eat in the couple of days before the race

    oats for breakfast, ideally 3hrs before race, with SIS drink, 2 gels and several caffeine tablets 30 -45 mins from start, 800ml bottle SIS and 2 more gels on the bike, a few mouthfuls of water at each drink station

  • trispacetrispace Posts: 25

    Give this 7 day classic carb loading method a go, shouldn't do you any harm, although would be a good idea to give it a bash before your event in case you feel too wiped out during the low carb phase. I use it for longer events and it's fine with me. It's a topic I find really interesting so if you need any more info let me know.

    Day 1

    Normal diet, normal training

    Day 2

    Low carb diet, exhaustive prolonged exercise (this is where glycogen depletion really occurs and stimulates the key enzyme in glycogen production, causing an 'over compensation' of muscle glycogen when you load up, so more glycogen is stored than normal in the muscles.)

    Day 3

    Low carb diet, taper training

    Day 4

    Low carb diet, taper training

    Day 5

    High carb diet, taper training

    Day 6

    High carb diet, taper training

    Day 7

    High carb diet, taper training

    Race (faster)!!!
  • Hi Guys, thanks for your comments, much appreciated

    Trispace - if you could give me a bit more info that would be great, mainly

    Amount of Carbs/Proteins on low carb days and high carb days?

    What sort of food/drink do you reccommend on both high and low days?

    Also what is your view on the few minutes burst 24 hours before the race to load the glycogen stores?


  • BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    Interesting post, trispace. By the end of Day 4 I'd be biting people's heads off if they even looked at me.

    Is this based on experience, advice you've been given, or are you sports/medically trained?

    I'm not questioning you - I'm looking for advice; it's just that you're chucking some medical stuff in there and I guess I'm really interested in this topic too: I've thought for a long time about keeping a food and exercise diary to try to work out what happened on those days when I feel fat and slow, and those other (occasional) days when I feel springy and lightning fast....

    ...I'd have done it sooner, but at about 2pm every afternoon I practically fall asleep.
  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    I am not sure about the science of carbo loading, fine if you are a body builder (who would rip heads off because the biting might upset the lo carb regime), but I suspect that moderately increasing carb intake & tapering training may work just the same or similarly, the key would be optimising carb supply during the race to delay fatigue & 'the bonk'...thats where all those sweet drinky/gel things come in.
  • trispacetrispace Posts: 25
    Ben, As a guide for us endurance athletes on moderate to heavy training - daily protein requirements per day should be around 1.2-1.4g per Kg bodyweight. No need to drop protein amounts. Obviously remember that amounts differ based on an individual's needs.

    As a guide for low carbs you should be looking at 2.5-5g carbs per Kg of bodyweight, high carbs anywhere between 8-10g carbs per Kg bodyweight.

    Recommending food and drink types is not something I would do apart from say try and stick to low GI carbs during pre exercise and normal meals and high GI meals post exercise. You can get these food types from the net by searching on glyceimic index.

    By the end of your high carb intake your glycogen stores should be at bursting point so doing the few minutes burst 24 hrs before the race may only waste energy instead of providing more, however there are other variations of carb loading regimes that utilise this method of real high intensity training for 3 mins in the last 24 hrs.

    Bopomofo, The low carb stretch can make you irritable, depends on your lifestyle though. I’ve used this method before in the build up to long distance running events and I’ve been ok. Yep, I’m trained in sports science area. It is a real interesting topic but can get seriously complicated and must be practised to get optimum results. A food diary does require discipline and can take over your life, but I agree does have it’s benefits.

    Britspin, the key thing with the regime I mentioned is the release of this enzyme during the low carb phase. This is the stimulant to overload glycogen stores, which if executed correctly would provide more glycogen than only moderately increasing carb intake and tapering, as your glycogen stores would not be depleted enough to release the enzyme, sorry if it sounds a bit complex!!!

    I agree with the intake of carbs during the race over 1hr, as this is where our glycogen stores tend to suffer.

    Happy eating!!!

  • Brok999Brok999 Posts: 10
    Trispace can you clear something up for me . . . As i understand it, in the build up to an endurance event the carbo loading will build up the glycogen stores in the liver which will deliver the energy in a controlled manner for about the first hour of a race. In taking an energy gel or two in the 30mins before a race aren't you causing a sugar rush which in turn causes an increased insulin response which after 30-40mins will result in a lower sugar level than if you hadn't taken the gel in the first place, just at the start of the race???? or have i got it completely wrong

    The more i think i know the more confused i get!!!

  • trispacetrispace Posts: 25
    Dave, Now we’re getting really technical!!!

    Glycogen is stored in the liver and the muscles themselves. About 500g in total for the average body, with approx 400g in the muscles and 100g in the liver. This equates to 1600-2000kcal on average, which if you are competing in a triathlon in excess of 1hr you’re going to start to run out if not replenished. Endurance athlete’s bodies tend to have a higher than average store, but still need additional glycogen.

    High GI foods like energy gels if taken pre race can produce large amounts of insulin which transfers the excess glucose into fat cells and can make you feel more sluggish. This is why we use the gels during races etc where we can utilise the large amounts of glucose available more effectively due to the depletion of glycogen in our muscles. Pre race you should be eating low GI type food, which produces a slow insulin response, which in turn releases glucose at a slow rate, which maintains the slow steady need for glycogen in the muscles pre race.

    Hope this clarifies things!!
  • Brok999Brok999 Posts: 10
    Thanks Trispace yes it does clear it up and its as i thought. Its such a minefield this topic and i have read a few posts where people take energy gels pre-race, it even recommends taking gels pre-race on the packets i use.

    I'm doing the London next week with a dreaded 15:40 start [:@] so am really struggling to work out my nutrition and at what times to eat as i usually train in the morning.

    Obviously low GI but something that can be prepared a couple of days previous as i'm staying in London for the weekend and would prefer to eat something that i've prepared myself knowing whats in it rather than a Subways salt sandwich.

    Any ideas???

    Cheers, Dave
  • trispacetrispace Posts: 25

    Again I’m not one to recommend an actual diet but if that was my start time I’d carry out my normal eating pattern.

    Usual breakfast around 8:00am consisting of, cereal, brown toast, fruit juice and a coffee.

    Around 10-10:30 I would have a yoghurt and some fruit.

    I would have my main pre-race meal 3-4 hrs before. So again if 15:40 were my start time I’d look to eat this about midday. My favourite is chicken breast with whole wheat pasta in a tomato sauce. If required I’d have a snack about 1 ½ hrs before the start. I know my digestion system can handle a snack this close to the start as it’s something I practice every race. I usually have a banana and a cereal bar. Also throughout the day remember to keep enough water on board, you can check this by the colour of your urine.

    [color=#800080]http://www.rugbycoach.com/documents/urine color chart.pdf[/color]

    If I still feel empty before the race, I occasionally take a sports drink like Lucozade sport still (just the small hand held sachet type), usually about 15-20 minutes before hand.

    Remember that the foods you intake on race day should already be familiar to your digestive system !!! Good luck for the race.

  • Brok999Brok999 Posts: 10
    thanks for your advice Trispace, its very similar to my diet so will be sticking to that.

    Thanks, Dave
  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    What is the name of the enzyme in question?
  • trispacetrispace Posts: 25
    glycogen synthetase is the enzyme in question.
  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    Thanks muchly..
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