Sunday, February 17, 2008

Carbohydrate Loading...

Extracted and modified from Asia Runner.

Glycogen is a stored form of energy found in both liver and muscles. During intense aerobic exercise like running, it is the primary source of energy used. As exercises is prolonged, glycogen is depleted. Therefore, energy production is limited and athletes will experience fatigue and muscle sore. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as "hitting the wall", amongst marathon runners.

Carbohydrate loading is one way that endurance athletes combat his problem. This packing of muscle glycogen by manipulating the daily intake of carbohydrate, leads to an even greater increase in muscle glycogen than a normal high carbohydrate diet. The original theory was that, if the body's glycogen stores were depleted, it would store more glycogen than normal when carbohydrate intake returned to normal.

The classic loading procedure is a seven day period leading to the competition day. On day one, the athlete will deplete muscle glycogen levels with a long tiring exercise session such as a 20KM run. A low carbohydrate diet (60g-100g/day) is then consumed for the next three days to further depletes glycogen stores. The athlete should continue with moderate training during these days of low carbohydrate intake. For the last three days leading up to competition day, the athlete consumes a high carbohydrate diet (400g-600g/day). It is important that this high level of carbohyrate intake is taken up to the time of the competition, including pre-event meal to ensure maximum results. Adequate protein, vitamins, mineral and plentiful supply of water must be taken too.

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