Carb Loading – should you or shouldn’t you?

Prior to taking part in an endurance event, many people start to wonder if they need to carb load before their big event.

The short answer is yes, a little bit, but don’t go crazy adding extra pasta and bread to every meal.

Top 5 tips regarding Carb loading before a race

1.   Once you are in taper mode, you are effectively carb loading as your body isn’t burning as much due to reduced training load

2.   For the 3- 4 days prior to the event you can increase your carbohydrate intake by changing your ratio of Carbs: Protein for your meals, but keep total calories the same. For example, instead of chicken and Veggies, opt for risotto with veggies, or pasta with veggies, or cut back the chicken portion and add more starchy veg such as sweet potato, potato or beetroot.

3.   The day before your event, have a bigger lunch and smaller dinner than you usually would, this allows time for digestion. Include an extra piece of fruit or starchy veg in your day - banana/pear/apple/potato/sweet potato

4.   Stick to simple, good quality “plain” food the day before – it’s not the time to be super healthy with brown rice, beans and lentils… nor the day to have a spicy Indian Curry.. keep it simple and low fibre.

5.   Carbohydrates hold 3-4 times their weight in water, so don’t over do the carb loading (if you’re not used to eating lots of carbs) or you risk standing on the start line feeling heavy and bloated.

Check out these 7-day meal plans specifically designed to enhance performance and recovery for runners.

This article was written by nutritionist, Tamara Madden, from