Carbo Loading, Exercise, and Low Carb Diets
“Carbo loading” is encouraged in many running groups in the week leading up to any race. I had thought this practice went out with the 80s! Unfortunately, this is a thriving attitude among different endurance sports athletes and groups.
Many people who are looking to lose weight, burn off fat, and improve their health will join groups- running groups, swimming groups, triathlon groups, etc. This is a great idea as it can lead to a higher level of motivation, as well as an improved social life!
The truth is, the best fuel to use during any endurance exercise is not sugar but fat. Yes – “carbo loading” simply means you are building up glycogen stores, which means you have sugar to use as fuel. But the more efficient you are at fat burning, you will be able to go longer (and farther). Stu Mittleman, Slow Burn, is one of the greatest distance runners of all time. He normally eats a ratio of 40-30-30 (carbs-protein-fat), but when training for an event, he increases his fat to 50 percent of his diet!
I have found this way of eating also beneficial when I occasionally train for a race. Otherwise, with a high level of carbohydrates in my diet, I end up on this roller coaster ride where I have to keep consuming more carbs to keep up my energy levels- otherwise I will crash! Does this sound healthy?
So unless you are an English Channel swimmer, and want to store some extra fat, carbo loading isn’t a useful practice- and the science is behind this.
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