So let' s say that you already know that carbohydrate loading might give you
an added advantage, perhaps a little more "oomph" on race day, and maybe
even a good excuse to eat more Italian...but how the heck do you do it
without a calculator and ultra-accurate kitchen scale? Here are my super
simple guidelines for a race week carbohydrate loading meal plan.
-1 week out from race (i.e. Sunday), perform a carbohydrate depleting
workout that is minimally fueled (100-150 calories/hr).
this workout in the morning. Fuel afterwards with a normal and large meal of
400-600 calories (mix whole protein and healthy carbohydrates), but then
limit carbohydrate consumption to no more than 50% of the diet for the rest
of this day. Got it? OK, now move on.
-For the next 2 days (i.e. Monday & Tuesday), continue to limit carbohydrate
consumption to no more than 50% of the diet. Preferably consume the majority
of the day' s carbohydrate intake after your race week workouts, and for
added bonus, perform your race week workouts on an empty stomach in the
morning before breakfast.
-Here comes the good part. On the next day (i.e. Wednesday), increase
carbohydrate intake by 5-10%, but continue with the early morning workouts
on an empty stomach. The whole reason for these is that they' ll increase the
carbohydrate-grabbing enzymes in your muscles when you do eat after the
-Continue to increase carbohydrate intake by 5-10% until race day. So the
actual day prior to race day, you should be at 75-80% carbohydrate intake.
Two days before the race, eat normally, but no workouts, or very light
physical activity only. Also, two days before the race, begin to limit fiber
intake to no more than two pieces of fruit per day, and no more than 1 large
salad or two small salads. That means your carbs are coming from sources
like dairy, nuts, seeds, cereals, whole grains, and breads.
-The day prior to race day, perform your final morning workout and fuel with
a larger than normal breakfast. Be 100% full when breakfast is over, and
emphasize complex carbohydrate consumption, like whole grain pancakes, a big
bowl of meusli with yogurt, or piping hot oatmeal with almond butter. The
rest of the day, fuel primarily with small and frequent snacks. Lunch should
also be primarily carbohydrate based, like a panini or sandwich. Dinner can
include an easily digested meat, like chicken or fish, combined with a small
amount of vegetables and complex carbohydrate, like whole wheat pasta.
-On race morning, eat a 250-450 calorie meal of easily digested complex
carbohydrates that are low in fiber, preferably 2-3 hours prior to the race.
Sip 1 bottle of water for every hour leading up to the race, with a gradual
tapering of water intake to small sips once the race start is 30 minutes
If done correctly, on race morning you won' t be puffed up like Popeye' s
biceps, but you will feel just *slightly* bloated or "tight" from the
carbohydrate consumption and water retention. That' s OK and it' s normal. 30
minutes into the race, you won' t notice, and 4 hours into the race you' ll be
thanking that extra carbohydrate you have on board.