You’ve registered for an event, followed a regimented training plan, mentally and physically prepared for the race, but have you considered fuel? For optimal performance, we need to provide our bodies with the energy and nutrients it needs to support movement and recovery, immune function and prevention of early fatigue.
Leading up to the event
Carbohydrate is converted to glucose and stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. As muscle glycogen stores deplete so does capacity for high intensity activity, eventually leading to exhaustion. Starting with a high muscle glycogen content is known to postpone fatigue by up to 20% in endurance events lasting more than 90 minutes.
Carbohydrate loading’ helps to maximise muscle glycogen stores :
- 7 days prior to the event reduce exercise intensity and frequency.
- Consume carbohydrate as 50% total energy intake for 3 days.
- 3-4 days before the event increase to 70% total energy intake.
- To ensure adequate hydration, slowly drink 5-7ml/kg body weight 4 hours before the event.
- If urine is dark in colour, slowly drink a further 3-5ml/kg 2 hours before the event.
- Adding sodium or consuming sodium rich foods can stimulate thirst and aid fluid absorption.
Consuming carbohydrate 3-4 hours before exercise has been shown to improve performance, trials show large amounts (~300g) to reduce time to exhaustion by 15% . However, consumption should be based on individual preferences and body weight. For some, consuming a large amount of carbohydrate before a race can cause gastrointestinal discomfort. Avoid consuming too much fibre before a race as this can also cause gastrointestinal discomfort. Aim for foods with a low glycaemic index (GI) such as oats and pasta. Low GI foods are known to increase fat oxidation and reduce carbohydrate oxidation, preserving glycogen reserves). Read more