The average male athlete can store about 1,500 to 1,900 kilocalories (kcal) of carbohydrate: 60-80 kcal in the blood, 360-440 kcal in the liver and 1,300 to 1,400 kcal in the muscles. Two hours of exercise or a 20 mile run can deplete liver and muscle glycogen (stored carbohydrates) levels. Obvious signs of glycogen depletion are heavy, tired muscles, poor performance and possibly complete fatigue.
Normal training diets should ideally be high in carbohydrate, low in fat and protein, so that the body is accustomed to taking in carbohydrates throughout the day. If your daily intake of carbohydrate is not at least 60 percent of the daily caloric intake, you may not be replenishing your liver and muscle glycogen stores and these levels will drop below normal and stay there. Not being able to train consistently on a day-to-day basis may be a sign of chronic glycogen depletion.
To prevent chronic depletion of glycogen you need to consume approximately eight to nine grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight on a daily basis. One gram of carbohydrate equals 4 kilocalories and a kilogram equals 2.2 pounds. This carbohydrate can be in the form of complex carbohydrates (breads, pasta, potatoes, etc.) or in the form of simple sugars (fruits, sweets, etc.).
Many athletes find it hard to eat such large quantities of carbohydrates. In these circumstances, a liquid, high-carbohydrate source such as Carbohydrate Sports Drinks is convenient. If mixed to the manufacturer’s instructions, they contain between 20 to 25 percent carbohydrate, ideally in the form of glucose polymers, which, unlike fructose, will not draw excess water into the gut. This concentration is about 3 to 4 times that found in so-called commercial sports drinks.
Carbohydrate loading, also known as super-compensation, aims to prevent the onset of fatigue during endurance events.
If completed properly, carbo-loading can almost double the normal amount of stored carbohydrate found in a trained person.
Sports nutritionists recommend increasing carbohydrate intake to at least nine to 10 grams per kilogram of bodyweight (70 percent of dietary kilocalories) two to three days before an event.
This can be achieved by altering your training load and diet over a seven day period before the race. Moderate training and normal diet should be followed for the first four days. For the remaining three days, low to moderate intensity exercise and a high carbohydrate diet should be followed.
Carbo-loading also means reducing training load and resting the muscles to allow them to become completely loaded with glycogen. Since you want to start the race with as much glycogen as possible, resting (low to moderate intensity exercise) is as important as eating in the process of super-compensation.
Consuming carbohydrates meals within six hours of competition can help ensure that you will have topped-off your liver and glycogen stores before the start of competition.
The liver, which helps maintain blood glucose levels, needs to be refilled on a regular basis to maintain its glycogen stores. Even if you have followed a carbo-loading program in the days leading up to competition, it would be wise to eat or drink 75 to 200 grams of carbohydrate in the final hours before competition. Your last—minute carbohydrate needs will vary according to your body size and caloric output in the race. Once again, high-carbohydrate drinks are ideal in this situation.
During the final minutes before the start, drink about 10 to 12 ounces of a sports drink (six to 10 percent solution) to top off your stomach with fluids. This may produce discomfort in some athletes’ stomachs when starting an endurance race, so get into the habit of drinking this much in practice.
Unlike sports drinks, high-carbohydrate drinks should not be consumed during exercise. Their high concentration of carbohydrate delays emptying of the stomach during exercise, which can lead to nausea and stomach cramps. During exercise, consume traditional sports drinks in the range of six to 10 percent carbohydrate.
It is crucial to your health and performance that you hydrate during training as well as during a race. Drink eight ounces of an energy drink every 15 to 20 minutes, whether you are thirsty or not. During exercise, the body not only loses fluid, but carbohydrate stores are significantly depleted. Drinking water may replace body fluids, but it will not provide glucose for working muscles. A sports or athletic drink will not only replace fluid but also provide energy to the working muscles.
In summary, carbohydrates are the primary fuel source for the muscles. If you consume enough carbohydrates before, during and after exercise they will be able to train harder and longer, and perform better in competition. A high-carbohydrate supplement will enable you to obtain adequate carbohydrates without the bulk of food.
Too much carbo loading may make you feel drowsy
How can one maintain a high body energy level at all times?
Even if your work schedule is not the normal 9 a.m.-5 p.m. schedule, sleep is crucial.
The more happy feelings you nurture, the healthier you will become.
The less you cook your food, the higher the nutrient content, the better nourished your body is. Good nourishment equals more energy.
Stay away from transfats and hydrogenated fats. They will weaken your immune system and eventually make you ill. Moreover, you still need fat for good metabolism. So, don’t worry if your fat intake comes from vegetables or animals. Just maintain a good balance.
A diet high in carbohydrates leads to “sleeping syndrome.” So, don’t wonder why you feel drowsy after having a big pasta serving. Take enough carbohydrates based on your workload. If you are not too busy, cut back on your carbo load or it will become fat.