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Carb Loading Myths

TO CARB-LOAD or not to carb-load? The aim of carb-loading is to ensure that you have sufficient glycogen stores prior to your race. This will ensure that you have optimal energy for long distance races and delay the “hitting the wall” feeling. There are many myths that come with carb-loading, so let’s debunk them!


Myth 1: Pasta and bread is the only way to carb load When I was a high school athlete, I went through a phase where my carb loading meal the night before a meet was pizza or pasta. When I found out I was gluten intolerant, you can imagine I had to figure out how I was going to replenish my carb stores for workouts and races. Fortunately, bread and pasta is not our only option. Although bread/pasta can be a great addition to a carb loading plan, we can also find carbs in oats, quinoa, rice, potatoes, dried fruit, sports drinks and granola bars. Nutrition is very individualized, so if one type of carb does not work well for you, there are plenty of other options!


Myth 2: Carb loading will make you gain weight and slow down Carb-loading correctly might make you gain a little bit of water weight, but it will not make you slower. The reason we gain water weight is that our body stores water along with glycogen, and we carb-load to load up our glycogen stores. Each gram of glycogen comes with 3 grams of water. This water retention is beneficial because it keeps cells hydrated for optimal performance.


Myth 3: Carb loading is only beneficial for longer races/workouts Yes, carb-loading is beneficial for longer races like marathons, but works for track & cross country races too! The difference lies in how long you would carb-load leading up to the race. For shorter races, you would only carb-load for a day before the race for adequate glycogen stores, whereas for longer races you would carb-load 3-6 days in advance to completely fill up glycogen stores.


What race are you carb loading for? Comment or send me a DM!


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Hi, my name is Katelyn Greenleaf, Registered Dietitian, Nutritionist

NuLeaf Nutrition strives to...

1. Provide scientifically-backed information to help athletes find a nutrition plan that fits their individual health/fitness goals.

2. Educate people in achieving optimal nutrition in attempts to prevent the development of chronic diseases. 

3. Improve total health by emphasizing balance in the diet and physical activity.

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