If you, like most of us, treat bread, dominos and pasta as a kind of caloric religion, then you are lucky. Because there are some occasions where this obsession may come in handy (and to be considered healthy). But before you go steaming and ahem & # 39; accidentally & # 39; falls into a pizza coma, you should probably hear exactly how it works. We ended up with registered nutritionist and MyProtein.com ambassador Jennifer Blow to find out the dos, the don'ts and the details about loading carbohydrates.

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What is carb loading?

"Charging carbohydrates [essentially, eating lots of carbs] is a tactic mostly used by endurance athletes. The strategy maximizes the amount of glycogen available in the muscles and liver, which is a stored carbohydrate that the body uses for energy, "says Jennifer. This increases the time to fatigue [aka how long before you get tired] and improves training performance. "

7 things you need to know about loading carbohydrates if you like exercise

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When do I have to load carb and what kinds of activities can benefit from this?

"Generally, the loading of carbohydrates is intended for duration activities that last longer than 90 minutes, mostly used by runners, cyclists and top athletes such as footballers or rugby players, "explains Jennifer, which means that your quick sprint to Greggs during lunch is not like that whole as valid, but do not let that stop you from eating carbohydrates – you need carbohydrates for energy! – maybe not as much as a marathon runner.

When should I avoid charging carbohydrates?

"Load Carb is not necessary for exercises that last much less than 90 minutesespecially for activities such as weightlifting, sprints and other short-term exercises, "says the expert, but that does not mean you have to completely remove carbohydrates if you train less than 90 minutes at a time, remember to eat them in moderation.

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No carbohydrate loading needed here
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How can I calculate how much carbohydrates I should eat?

"There are a number of carbohydrate load regimes, but the most recent guidelines recommend consume 10-12 grams of carbohydrates per kg of body weight in the 36-48 hours prior to training or events that last longer than 90 minutes, "Jennifer explains. In any regime, during the 24 hours prior to endurance training, carbohydrates should always be the main ingredient of each meal, which corresponds to 60-70% of your total calories, "she adds." In the last 1-4 hours before the exercise you should try to eat 1-4 grams of complex carbohydrates and carbohydrate-rich protein sources per kg of body weight. This is mainly to prevent hunger for a race, because muscle and liver stores are already at their peak. "

What types of carbohydrates should I eat?

"When loading carbohydrates, most people choose foods with a low glycemic index because of their minimal impact on blood sugar levels. Complex carbohydrates and starchy carbohydrates such as pasta, bread, rice and potatoes are ideal. Foods such as fruit and other foods with high fructose such as sugary drinks and snacks are much less effective in specifically increasing muscle glycogen levels, so it should be avoided for loading carbohydrates, "advises the nutritionist." A good protein source must also be eaten carbohydrates when loading carbohydrates, because amino acids are also important during endurance exercises. "

7 things you need to know about loading carbohydrates if you like exercise

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Will carb loading make me arrive?

"If you load carbohydrates unnecessarily [i.e. you’re not taking part in endurance exercise], you are less likely to burn the extra calories consumed during the loading of carbohydrates, and that is why they will probably arrive, "warns Jennifer."It is known that a temporary increase in water weight occurs during loading of carbohydratesbecause muscles store 3 grams of water for every 1 gram of carbohydrates, which can lead to bloating during exercise. To combat this, a carbohydrate-rich diet (55-70% of the total calories) can be consumed daily, rather than just in the run-up to a race, so that the muscles are continually topped up & # 39; "