With just days to go until the big event it
is time to start thinking about Carb loading.
Carbohydrate is traditionally associated with
cycling as being a source of fast available energy.
is Carb loading and why should you consider it as part of your event
Without getting into the technicalities of
specific carbohydrate blends and formulations it is generally accepted that the
maximum amount of carbohydrate which can be absorbed and then utilised by the
body is 60g per hour – which equates to 240 Kcal of energy available to be used
Taking on board more carbohydrate than you
can use is likely to result in stomach upset and discomfort – commonly known as
Once you have used up all of your available
carbohydrate energy your body will look to find energy from other sources. Your
body can get energy from fat and by metabolising lean muscle. Whilst fat
provides an excellent source of energy, the conversion processes are slower
than with carbohydrate and the idea of metabolising your hard won lean muscle
for energy should fill you with horror. You would quite literally be eating
your own legs!
To illustrate the potential benefit of carb
loading let’s look at a theoretical example. A 14.5 stone man cycling at an
average speed of 13.5mph on the Etape Royale course will use about 5,500 Kcal
which is around 730 Kcal per hour. If you are only able to absorb and use
240Kcal from carbs per hour it is clear that having a store of carbohydrate
energy in your system before you start is going to make a lot of difference.
The purpose of carb loading is to maximise the amount of carbohydrate
energy stored in the body…
Carbohydrate is stored by your body in the form
of Glycogen in the liver and in the muscles.
Depending upon your individual physiology you
should be able to store between 400g – 500g of Glycogen. This translates into
an energy reserve of 1600 – 2000 Kcal
What to eat…
The best foods for carb loading are pastas,
breads, rice and potatoes. Choose the brown versions – whole-wheat pasta, brown
breads, brown rice and with potatoes eat the skins. The fibre contained in the
less refined versions of these foods and in the potato skins helps to keep
blood sugar levels under control which will lead to a more even energy supply
and help to avoid the peaks and troughs associated with raised blood sugar.
How to maximise carb loading…
One of the problems with carb loading is that
your body doesn’t store glycogen very efficiently. Carbohydrate has to be
stored with water – for every 1g of carb you need 3g of water - so to build up
a store of 400g of carbs you will also need to store 1.2 kg of water. If you
don’t keep properly hydrated it will compromise your ability to carb load.
Don’t forget the protein…
Often the focus on carbohydrate in the lead
up to an event causes people to take their eye off the protein ball.
You train hard to build strong muscles to
power you through these challenges. Your muscles are built with protein.
In addition to needing protein to build muscle, your body also needs
protein to maintain lean muscle…. And
it isn’t just muscle - protein also forms the basic substance of bones, brain,
nerves, heart and every other organ and tissue.
Whilst your body can store a limited supply
of carbohydrate and an almost unlimited amount of fat, protein cannot be
stored. The protein requirements for
each day must be provided each day. If not, your body will metabolise lean
muscle to get the essential nutrients needed to maintain
When you are trying to pack in the carbs it
can be difficult to keep your protein intake up and this is where a protein
supplement can help.
CNP Professional produce Pro Peptide which is
a truly premium grade protein supplement. All of the endurance athletes I
advise take 2 scoops of Pro Peptide in 300ml of water just before going to bed,
delivering 30g of protein. The super high quality Casein provides a slow release of nourishing protein through the
night after the faster acting Whey
proteins have done their work.
Ben Allum - The Forensic Nutritionist
Cornerstone – Tailored Performance Analysis