Some Carbs are Better than Others

May 10, 2016 Posted By: Barbara Mitchell

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Carbohydrate loading is the process of eating a higher carbohydrate diet leading up to an endurance event to maximize glycogen stores. While most runners and athletes have probably heard the term carb loading before, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are doing it right. These three tips are things to keep in mind when carb loading for any endurance event.

SOME CARBS ARE BETTER THAN OTHERS

Carbohydrates are categorized into simple/refined carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are readily digested into sugar, they contain calories but very little nutrients whereas complex carbohydrates take a longer time to digest, are made up of starch & fibre and contain nutrients like vitamins & minerals.

When fuelling during a workout, the body prefers simple carbohydrates because they can be readily absorbed and used by muscles to fuel the workout. However, when increasing carbohydrate intake for carb-loading leading up to an event, choosing complex carbohydrates that provide your body with valuable nutrients instead of empty calories is the best way to fuel and will lead to optimal performance.

What does this mean in terms of food? It means that choosing vegetables, fruit, legumes & whole grains over pizza, candy & beer.

CARBS DON’T HAVE TO BE GRAINS

Grain products are most often associated as carbohydrates – bread, rice, pasta, etc. But there are lots of other sources of carbohydrates including fruits, starchy vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, carrots), milk & milk products (cheese, yogurt) and beans that are great sources of carbohydrates. Choosing a variety of carbohydrate containing foods is the best way to fuel up and ensure you are getting a variety of nutrients.

IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THE NIGHT BEFORE

Carb loading with a large bowl of pasta the night before a race is a common practice but carb loading involves more than the night before a race. It’s important to be eating a higher carbohydrates diet throughout training to adequately fuel muscles and power workouts.

During the final weeks of training, the continuation of a high carbohydrate diet combined with a lessened exercise load will ensure storage of glycogen is maximized. And of course, a pasta dinner or another high carbohydrates dinner the night before the race is also a good idea.

Overall, carbohydrate loading isn’t a difficult concept. Fuelling the body with a high carbohydrate diet from a variety of sources will maximize energy storage and performance.

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about-photo-2Jen Rawson is a Mizuno run ambassador and

registered Dietitian & Makeup Artist

from Calgary, Alberta. 

 

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