What is the best way to carb load before marathon day?


After months of grueling workouts, conditioning, and beating personal records, your big race is just about here. You’ve been reading and listening to advice about the best ways to prepare your body and mind for the upcoming day and the topic of carb-loading pops up.

With tons of information out there, it can be overwhelming to determine what suggestions would work best for you to help optimize your body’s capabilities to peak performance before your marathon. While it’s best to try different things out to allow for adjustments based on your experience, if you’re new to carb-loading or running marathons in general you may not have enough time beforehand to do so. So we’ve broken down one of the best ways to carb-load before a marathon that works well whether it will be your first or fifteenth marathon. 

It’s typically recommended to begin carb loading gradually, about five days before your upcoming race. For the first three days, increase your carb intake moderately during each meal. In the two days preceding the race, up your carb consumption so that the majority of your diet is composed of carbs. The amount of carbs you should consume depends on your body weight with four grams of carbs per pound a good rule of thumb to follow. You can also use a calculator from a website or fitness app to get a more accurate idea of your threshold. As far as the type of carbs you should eat, the varieties are truly endless with food like pasta, potatoes, rice, and tortillas among some of these options.

Though you can be pretty liberal with the types of carbs you choose to consume, it’s best to stick to simple and healthy as much as possible. While you’re eating a high amount of carbs, many experts also advise runners to stay away from high protein and high fat foods in the days immediately before your race to avoid digestive issues. 

With all of this effort on eating the proper nutrition, you may be wondering how exactly carb-loading can benefit you come race day. Carbs are a great energy source and once consumed, the sugars from the food you eat are converted into fuel stores within our bodies called glycogen which we use and break down whenever we need. The higher the amount of carbs you eat, the higher your glycogen levels will be which directly corresponds to the endurance needed to complete a marathon. Many runners swear by the added energy that carb-loading affords them. 

Carb-loading doesn’t have to be complicated and having a prepared five-day calculated meal plan makes things so much easier. Channel all of your focus into mental preparation and let this carb-loading method aid your body in the physical preparation. You’ve got this! 

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