Does carbo-loading mean stuffing myself with pasta?
Should I avoid protein the day before the marathon?
Will carbo-loading make me fat ...?
If you are an endurance athlete who is fearful of hitting the wall, listen up: proper fueling before a marathon, triathlon, century bike ride, or other competitive endurance events can make the difference between agony and ecstacy! If you plan to compete for longer than 90 minutes, you want to maximize the amount of glycogen stored in your muscles, because poorly fueled muscles are associated with needless fatigue. The more glycogen, the more endurance (potentially). While the typical athlete has about 80 to 120 mmol glycogen/kg muscle, a carbo-loaded athlete can have about 200 mmol. This is enough to improve endurance by about 2 to 3%, to say nothing of making the event more enjoyable.
While carbo-loading sounds simple (just stuff yourself with pasta, right?), the truth is many endurance athletes make food mistakes that hurt their performances. The last thing you want after having trained for months is to ruin your performance with poor nutrition, so carbo-load correctly
The biggest change in your schedule during the week before your event should be in your training, not in your food. Do not be tempted to do any last-minute long sessions! You need to taper your training so your muscles have adequate time to become fully fueled (and healed). Allow at least two easy or rest days (48 hr) pre-event.
You need not eat hundreds more calories this week. You simply need to exercise less. This way, the 600 to 1,000 calories you generally expend during training can be used to fuel your muscles. All during this week you should maintain your tried-and-true high-carbohydrate training diet. Drastic changes can...