I can honestly say that my best most kick ass workouts have occurred on days or the day after I’ve “indulged” or had an unintentional “carbohydrate load.” These workouts are without a doubt the most intense and energetic bouts of exercise that I can possibly have. For example, in the pool I can swim and I can swim and I can swim for an ungodly amount of time before feeling the least bit fatigued. My bottomless pit energy source takes a good forty minutes before the edge is taken off and finally, my kicks aren’t as solid and my strokes aren’t as strong. These workouts are far better than the ones that I’ve had when I’ve not eaten enough on that day.
According to mayoclinic.com “carbohydrate loading generally involves greatly increasing the amount of carbohydrates you eat several days before a high-intensity endurance athletic event.” Several other sources agree that maximizing muscle glycogen (carbohydrate) stores prior to endurance competitions can possibly be beneficial for endurance events that take longer than ninety minutes. The extra supply of carbohydrates has been demonstrated to allow athletes to compete at their optimal pace for a longer time. Athletes experience less fatigue and this strategy ultimately improves their performance. Being a seasoned endurance athlete, I may have experienced this phenomena firsthand (as previously mentioned.) Yet because the science behind carbohydrate loading may be one of the most misunderstood concepts in sports nutrition, let’s just discuss the benefits of being adequately fueled.
Yes a calorie is a calorie but the source of a calorie will determine how our body goes about using it. Proteins and fats are serving different functions within the body (functions that carbohydrates simply aren’t suited for) in addition to, as a last resort, providing energy. Therefore carbohydrates, more specifically low glycemic complex carbohydrates, are vital to be used as our body’s primary fuel source, especially during athletic events. Put simply, don’t expect to run your best 9.32 miles if you only downed an egg for breakfast. Nor will you benefit from just having one graham cracker. Don’t be that person; a half hour down the road with another thirty minutes to go is a bad time to wonder how you can possibly finish strong and regret not eating enough of the right things. I’ve been there and it’s horrible to run on empty. Allow yourself to perform at your best by means of proper nutrition and plenty of it.
What am I eating for Steamboat? All week I’ve been consuming iron-rich foods/supplements, specifically spinach, paired with Vitamin-C (to aid the iron absorption.) The day before the race I’ll be consuming obscene amounts of water. (Lets Talk Water, click here) The night before I’ll probably have a couple sweet potatos and more iron rich foods. The main function of iron is to help carry oxygen from the lungs to the muscles and other organs. The morning of the race I’ll drink a bottle of water as soon as I jump out of bed, pop a B-vitamin complex and eat some complex carbohydrates (oatmeal.) Right before the race I’ll down some non-carbonated caffeine, a banana and prunes (for the potassium, it helps with muscle cramping.) This combination worked for me at last years Steamboat. There’s two days left to experiment with pre-race jet fuel. What energizes you?