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Nutrition Triathlon

How to make carbo-loading work for you


Every athlete uses ‘carbo loading’ as an excuse to binge before a race, but how can you really make it beneficial to you on race day?

What is carb-loading?

Carbohydrate loading is a strategy that involves specific changes to your training and nutritional intake that can maximize muscle glycogen or carbohydrate stores prior to an endurance race.

For the IRONMAN triathlete, carb-loading takes place during the race taper and can be successfully executed in the three to four days before the race. You have to consume enough carbohydrates to bring up muscle glycogen to the highest levels possible.


How do I make it work for me?

Many IM triathletes may not appreciate the amount of carbohydrate foods required to carb-load. Work with a sports dietitian who can develop plans specific to your weight, food preferences, and race location or even using an app can be helpful.

Pack food for your race, dry items and bring food with you when you go to check-in, transition, and attend the expo.

Can I carb-load the day before only?

To ensure your muscles are loaded with consistent effort, best to start carbo-loading a few days ahead.  On the day before the race, start eating early and try to get your carbs in by 6 p.m. This may be a good day to keep your fiber intake under control. Consume foods that you trust completely and go to bed early. The last thing you want to experience on race morning is to wake up feeling stuffed and not have the appetite for your pre-race meal.

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