You’re a runner. You wear your favorite running shoes, pound the pavement, and breeze past individuals. Music, gel packs, hydration belt, keys – you have all of the essentials. But did you remember to eat your carbs to power up your running workout? Yes, carbohydrates have gotten a substantial amount of criticism over the years for causing weight gain, yet they may be beneficial for a long distance runner. Beginning a regimen of”carb-loading” isn’t just about eating large amounts of carbs to run longer distances more efficiently. It is about knowing when and what to eat. Here are my tips on carbohydrates.
High carbohydrates, especially glucose, keep your body functioning during a marathon. Glucose is converted into vital energy which helps fuel moving muscles – the faster and more you run, the more sugar you use up! Here are some key things to think about glucose:
Glucose is needed for one to optimally burn fat throughout your run. During long runs, fat is another crucial nutrient which turns to fuel. However, your body will only utilize fat once the sugar is depleted.
Glucose levels are tracked through your brain constantly, so the brain detects when the glucose level drops in the blood resulting in needless muscle fatigue. Having enough sugar in your system can keep you from hitting the dreaded”wall.” Your body stores glucose in the liver and also in your muscles as glycogen. Also your body can just store enough glycogen for about 90 minutes of strenuous exercise, which explains why seasoned runners believe in”carb-loading” prior to a marathon or half marathon.
“Carb loading” the ideal way.
When consuming carbohydrate meals before a race, you want your muscles and liver to store the maximum amount of glycogen to prevent poorly fueled muscles. This is only necessary if you’re doing endurance race events. You will discover some weight gain. Carbs cling to the water in the body so as you store more glycogen, your body will hold more water. This is great because it indicates that you have fueled up properly and it helps keep you from becoming dehydrated during your run. You should lose the 2-3 pounds in just a day or 2. However, if you’re carb-loading every day, you will notice unwanted tightness in your running shorts. To get the most from carb-loading:
Boost your carbohydrates 1 to 3 days before a long run. . Most runners load at dinner the night before a big race event. Instead, you may want to eat the majority of your carbohydrates for breakfast or lunch the day before the event. This earlier meal allows more time for the food to move through your system.
It is recommended that runners will need to eat 4-10 grams of carbs for every pound of body weight (for a 150 pound runner that’s 600 grams, or 2,400 calories, of carbohydrates each day). Endurance or ultra-marathon athletes consume up to 10 grams for every pound of body fat. Reduce the fats and increase the carbs to 85 to 95 percent of those meals before the race.
Avoid anything you aren’t used to eating before longer runs. Limit high-fat foods such as butter, creamy sauces, cheese, ice cream, and reduce your protein intake.
Carbs are essential before, during, and after a run.
Taking in carbs during a run slows down the rate at which you utilize your stored glycogen and helps keep you going longer, which is the reason why there are sports drinks and gels at channels at long race events. What’s more, when you eat protein and carbohydrates post-run, you set up your body to ideally restock glycogen stores for the next workout and help rebuild muscles. A Few things to remember when fueling your body:
30 minutes before running, have a very simple carb snack like a bagel, a banana, dried fruit, applesauce, or sports beans.
During intense training, try to consume 8 ounces of a sports drink or consume 1 to 2 sports gels with water each 45 to 60 minutes.
Within 30 to 60 minutes after your workout, have a food or snack that includes protein and carbohydrates. Some great choices: chocolate milk, a banana, or beer with a serving of almonds.
Carb-loading is critically important to your fueling program. What carbs do you like? Share your ideas in the comments below.