Sunday, March 9, 2014

Carb Loading

As I approach my 1st 2014 half marathon, 
I am always impressed with how many people ask me if I eat pasta or lots of bagels the week before a race. I tell them, "No. I just eat the way I always eat."
Some just shrug.
Others panic:
"What about your carbs? Don't you need to carb load?"

The truth is, I wish that by eating tons of pasta and bagels, I could trim 10 minutes off my half marathon time time, but that's not how it works for females.

Carb loading takes advantage of the fact that muscles store glucose for energy. This can be great for events like running more than 90-minutes. It's not that women don't store the extra glucose in their muscles after a few days of carb loading, it's just that it has not been shown to be effective in increasing endurance or performance. Past research showing positive benefits of carb loading, endurance and performance have involved males - so guys, go for the pasta, bagels, rice, and fruit!

There are a whole bunch of reasons why carb loading is just not as effective in females. One reason is because females don't break down (metabolize) glucose the same way that men do. This isn't all that bad - because our bodies will switch and use fat for energy! This is why you really want to make sure your slow long run during the week is nice, easy, and SLOW! Keep your heart rate close to your 65-70% VO2max and you will train your body to burn fat.
This is our secret weapon,
it saves the glucose in our muscles so we can endure!

Of course more research needs to be done because how females store glucose, and how they burn carbs and fat for energy during endurance exercises is also affected by the different phases of their menstrual cycle.
For now, listen to your body when you train. 
This is the best way to determine what and how much of certain foods work for you, and if there are any adjustments during the month that you need to make to help you feel energized during all your work outs!
Do you/Have you ever carb loaded?
Did you feel it helped?

Train Smart Today!
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