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Tara Gidus

MYTHBUSTER: CARBO-LOAD PT 1

Pasta, rice, potatoes, bagels. Most runners know that they should eat carbs before something like the Walt Disney World® Marathon, but what's the deal with the pasta dinner and carbo-loading?

First, let's talk science...

When we eat food, our body coverts that to energy, aka glucose. It also takes some of that glucose and stores it away. Stored glucose is called glycogen and you can find that in the liver and muscles.


Carbs are the body's preferred source of energy because it's easily converted into blood glucose and glycogen. When we exercise, we are using the glycogen that is stored in the muscles at a fast rate. If we run out of glycogen, it's known as "hitting the wall," because you can literally run out of energy to keep going.



Carbo-loading...

Carbo-loading, or carbohydrate loading, is not new age. In fact, it gained recognition from research in 1960s. Back in the day, athletes would undergo a process of depletion and repletion to carbohydrate load.


A week before their event, they would deplete their glycogen stores by very strenuous training and cutting out most of their carbs. Then they would decrease their training and pig out on carbs a few days before the event. This type of high carb diet saturated the muscles with glycogen, enabling the runners to have more endurance and avoid hitting the wall.

Avoid the Wall

Join us next week for Part 2 of Mythbuster: Carbo-Load for tips on how to properly carbo-load for race day! In the meantime, if you have comments or questions, tweet me me @DietDivaTara.


Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.