What is Carb Loading in Sports?

Carbohydrate loading is a strategy that involves changing the functioning of the digestive system. It allows you to raise the maximum carbohydrate level in our body, such as glycogen (carbohydrates stored in the muscles and liver). All this allows you to produce more energy.

Muscle glycogen is the main source of energy that is used for moderate and high-intensity loadings. It implies the absence of glycogen stores during exercise. It results in fatigue episodes.

The carbohydrate loading technique was originated in the late 60s. The Swedish physiologist Gunvar Ahlborg discovered a positive relationship between the amount of glycogen in the body and the stamina of athletes. Gunvar Ahlborg created a special pattern for athletes. The results of this pattern are directly dependent on athletes’ endurance. The program includes several phases. The first stage is characterized as a 3-4-day “phase of exhaustion” during which the athlete trained hard every day, at the same time consuming little carbohydrates.What is Carb Loading in Sports_

Stress from glycogen deficiency as a result of hard training and a small number of carbohydrates loaded triggered the body’s adaptation mechanism. It contributes to the reduction in the number of carbohydrates stored for future use as fat and the increase in the number of carbohydrates sent to the muscles and liver transforming it into glycogen.

After the “absence phase”, the “carbohydrate loading phase” began, which also lasted 3-4 days. At this time, the athlete trained on the background of easier program and have rest. The diet consists of a high-carb diet. The combination of these two phases showed a doubling of the number of stored glycogen and an increase in endurance in athletes during exercises. The endurance increases for about 90 minutes.

This method, especially the “phase of exhaustion”, has its drawbacks for athletes. Maintaining a 10% carbohydrate diet for 3-4 days (as required by this method) has negative consequences, including:

  • lethargy;
  • obsession;
  • irritability;
  • a lack of concentration;
  • increased liability to diseases.

Today, this method has been improved, so that carbohydrate body loading has become better able to adapt to a specific athlete. In addition, it has already been proven that you can do without the “phase of exhaustion”, as athletes can increase the capacity of the “glycogen storage” without devastating it before that.

How to carry out carbohydrate loading?

According to recent studies, an athlete should switch to light exercise during training for 1-4 days. Following the basic rule, 1-2 days before the competition, an athlete should start taking 8-10 grams of carbohydrates for every 2 pounds (almost 1 kg) of an athlete’s weight. These days carbohydrates make up 70% of your diet.

You should stay away from products containing a large amount of “bad” fats, such as fatty sauces, mayonnaises, cheese, butter, and vegetable oils. It is better to eat tortillas, oatmeal, bread, pancakes, waffles, bagels, yogurt, rice, and pasta.

Who can use carbohydrate loading?

Carbohydrate loading is absolutely normal for any diet. The optimal frequency can only be selected based on an analysis of the progress made and one’s well-being. Ectomorphs usually do a carbohydrate load 1-2 times a week, while endomorphs should resort to this technique with caution under the coach supervision. This table will display who can use this method:

Who? For what reason?
Active sportsmen If a lack of energy is currently observed within loadings.
People visiting the gym or not The metabolism has slowed down significantly, the process of fat burning has stopped.
Competitive athlete If you are close to important competitions during which you need to show the maximum result.

Remember that carbohydrate loading is usually carried out not only before the competition. Even if you just want to enhance your shape, you can always use this particular technique. You need carbohydrate loading within the cut. You will not be able to achieve the desired result without it.