Carb loading - tips?

I've got a marathon next Sunday, so was reading up on effective carb loading. I came across the article linked below, which suggests a 3 min very high intensity run the day before, suggesting that this shocks/primes the body into loading more glycogen.

Mumbo jumbo, or recognised approach?


  • I'm sure there are some grounds to the different methods to trick the body into holding onto more glycogen. It is quite risky to try out new things close to race day for the first time. I go with the approach that I am running less during the taper on the same the same diet, and then eat a higher % of carbs for 2 or 3 days before hand.


    Sounds like you have been reading the Western Australian Carbo Loading method. If you are going to use it, make sure you already incorporate the short intense session needed to kick it off within training, otherwise you could risk injury

  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭

    I'd be very cautious about this.  For a start, the way the article is written it suggests to me that the author has misinterpreted the original study in some details.  The only mention of a "24 hour" period in the study is the time within which glycogen levels are supposed to be boosted.  It doesn't suggest carb loading only 24 hours before the race. This is far too close for either (a) risking a high intensity run, or (b) consuming a huge load of carbs and hoping to digest it all properly before the race - or getting a good night's sleep  Even the author says he feels bloated on the start line.  Other articles I've read suggest doing it 2 days before, and since you're doing so little (if any) subsequent exercise before the race, you can expect to maintain maximum glycogen stores by simply eating sensibly the day before the race.

    Besides which, although the study hasn't been discredited, to my knowledge (willing to be corrected) it's not been conclusively proven to boost glycogen levels beyond those of a normal carb load.  I've personally used this approach a couple of times without too much fuss, although the one time when I did try to get scientific about the amount of carbs to take in, it struck me as being absolutely bloody loads! Thankfully I did the 3-min effort on the Friday evening, felt bloated all Friday night but then had Saturday to get back to normality before the Sunday race.  I just do a normal carb load these days - eating extra carbs between regular meals between Friday lunchtime and Saturday lunchtime, then eating normally for the rest of Saturday for a Sunday race.  As Also-ran says, eating normally during the taper period will help to restore your glycogen levels anyway.

  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭

    Sorry, "...the time within which glycogen levels are supposed to be boosted" should read "the time it takes to get glycogen levels back up..." i.e. this is not to suggest that there is only a 24 hour-window where glycogen levels remain topped up.  Basically, do not try this the day before the race (in my opinion).  image

  • I did try the more sciency x grammes of carbs per y kg body weight. I love my carbs, but that was pure crazy image

    I had an interesting marathon last week. I came down with a virus, and for the week before the marathon I was on what I would call a carb / protein / fat de-loading experience. The marathon itself continued in the same vein (threw up my one attempt to stomach a gel), including 2 portaloo stops enroute for more deloading. I was amazed that in this state I was no more than 5 mins off a pb. I'm going to be a lot more relaxed next marathon that I do; most of them I have been feeling pretty bloated come the Saturday, yet still felt as though a few more carbs would mke all the difference. Maybe less is more?

  • Mr BoatMr Boat ✭✭✭

    I've tried the carb depletion/carb load method a couple of times. Not sure if it works but losing a couple of pounds during the depletion gets your head in the right place. As already mentioned, I won't be going mad with the carb load, as maintaining my normal marathon training intake will be plenty with the reduction in mileage due to the taper.

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