Maximizing Stores Carbo Loading

Try to get a reservation at an Italian restaurant the night before a marathon and you'll be competing with racers to secure your party of five. Athletes recognize the importance of having adequate carbohydrates and load up on pasta and bread before an event. The rules of carbo-loading have evolved over the years, all with the same goal: to maximize carbohydrate (glycogen) stores. Studies revealed that not only is the body capable of storing more glycogen when fed more carbohydrates, but that this increase in stores can improve performance by 2 to 3 percent if exercising for more than ninety minutes.

It was once believed that proper carbo-loading required a period of depleting the body of glyco-gen followed by a few days of carb-supercompensation. This approach was characterized by three days of a diet of low carb, high fat and protein, and three days of high carbohydrate intake. Although glycogen stores were increased, restricting carbs for the first three days was difficult and

"The night before a race I like to have rice, grilled chicken, and a side salad with some fruit."

—Peter Reid, three-time Ironman World Champion even risky, increasing the potential for excessive fatigue, decreased immune function, and a poor mental state leading into race day.

More recent evidence has shown that three days of moderate carbohydrate intake (1.8 to 2.3 grams per pound of body weight) along with an exercise tapering period followed by at least one day of generous carb intake (3.6 to 4.5 grams per pound of body weight) can maximize carbohydrate stores for the big day.


Body Weight

3.6 g/lb Carb

4.5 g/lb Carb


468 g

585 g


504 g

630 g


540 g

675 g


576 g

720 g


612 g

765 g


648 g

810 g


684 g

855 g


720 g

900 g

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