With 5.2 days until my San Francisco Marathon double-loop adventure, I am visualizing carbohydrates. Bagels, brown rice, bananas, quinoa, sweet potatoes, more bagels...cupcakes? With so many delicious sources of carbohydrates, and a super-long race coming up, getting the right nutrition is going to be so much fun.
Now, because I am just that nutrition-dorky, here's a quick educational snippet, or carbs 101: muscles use glucose as fuel, to generate energy and propel you forward. Glucose, as a matter of fact, is essential for all bodily functions. It is a simple sugar, the most basic breakdown product of carbohydrates.
|Yes, it's the banana bagel. Yummm.|
We store glucose as glycogen in the liver and muscles, which acts as a fuel reserve for all the crazy running to be done. Carbohydrate loading is essentially the
science art of making sure that you have as much glycogen on board prior to an important long distance race/run as possible.
Fact: carbohydrate loading can actually increase the amount of glycogen storing capacity in muscles. There is proper research behind that one, ask me for articles if you care. Good stuff.
If you are training for something big or planning to get lost on some trails this weekend, here are 7 tips to keep in mind:
- Eat quality sources of carbohydrates. I mean whole grains whenever possible. You will benefit from the extra nutrients on board.
- Focus on nutrient-dense, not calorie-dense foods. In other words, skip junk food and eat stuff that actually exists in nature. There is no such thing as a Twinkie tree. Or a doughnut plant.
- Try to avoid eating everything in sight. The point is to load up on carbohydrates, not just calories in general. So, watch the fat content of things you are chowing down.
- Switch to getting more calories from carbs (70-80% of total calories in the few days prior) and less from fat and protein. Example: substitute creamy pasta sauce for a tomato sauce with veggies. Skip the cheese in your burrito and get more rice instead.
- Try not to get food poisoning. It really sucks.
- Eat consistently (like every 3-4 hours) and especially as you get closer to the big day, avoid overloading your digestive system with large, heavy meals. This will also help minimize the need for bathroom breaks and help keep you from having the runs on the run.
- Drinking your carbs can be a good way to get more on board the day before your race or really long run. Just watch the amount you drink at once so you don't start riding the blood sugar roller coaster.
Some foods I love for the pre-race week are...whole grain bagels, Ezekiel cinnamon-raisin bread, oatmeal, bananas, lentils, black beans, Injera bread (and most veggie Ethiopian food in general), green peas, squash, sweet potatoes, other veggies and so on.
|More bananas. Breakfast of champions.|
Quinoa+Chia seeds+almond milk+little almond butter+cinnamon+dash cocoa powder = happy day
A friend of mine recently introduced me to That's It bars. It's essentially mushed fruit. A great on-the-go carby snack that mirrors the nutritional profile of energy gels but is actually natural.
Ok, time to share. How do you carbo-load?