Carbohydrates are short or long chains of sugars that play an important role in your diet. They help supply the body with energy. Sugar, starch and cellulose are types of carbohydrates. Bread, cereals, rice, pasta, legumes, fruit and some vegetables are all good sources of carbohydrates.
What is Carb-Loading?
When you train hard, (or work hard in pre-production or on set) your body burns glycogen ( the stored form of carbohydrate in your muscles) for fuel. To keep on going, this glycogen needs to be replenished. By loading up on carbs before your event, you ensure that your glycogen stores are at full capacity giving you sustained energy. During your carb load, you need between 3 and 5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight each day.
Why do it?
In simple terms, the more energy or fuel your body has during an endurance race, the better you’ll be able to perform. More specifically, if your glycogen levels are high then you can delay fatigue longer and hopefully prevent “hitting the wall” when your carbs stores are depleted. Then your body turns to muscle for energy. This process is slower, so in turn you’re forced to slow down as well.
Easily digestible carbs are your best bet. They enter the bloodstream pretty quickly and can help provide fast-release energy. Some sports nutritionists suggest granola bars, bagels, higher-sugar fruits like bananas and raisins, cereals, white potatoes, pasta, flavoured yogurts, rice and fig bars. If you’re struggling to eat this much carbohydrate then liquid sources such as sports drinks and fruit juice may be helpful.