Carbohydrate Loading is a relatively new concept. Introduced by
Swedish researchers in the 1930s, it was not until the 1960s that the
Swedes developed the concept into a week-long regime. Their method
combined diet and training in such a way that the body build up 2-3
times its normal stores of glycogen, which gave athletes significantly
Athletes who repeatedly practiced the early form of Carbohydrate
Loading found that they suffered depression, lethargy, loss of muscle
tissue and some experienced chest pains and abnormal
The Modern Carbohydrate Loading Technique
Recently, American physiologists have modified the Carbohydrate
Loading regime and have overcome some of the side-effects. Begin the
regime early in the week prior to competition:
Stage 1: Gradually reduce your level of training while
maintaining your normal (moderate-to-high) carbohydrate diet. This holds
your glycogen level relatively steady.
Stage 2: For the three or four days prior to competition,
reduce your training even further. At the same time, increase your
carbohydrate intake to 70-85% of energy.
Carbohydrate Loading does not mean that you should stuff yourself
with food. What it does mean is that you should be extremely conscious
of what you eat and should mainly eat foods that contain carbohydrate.
Carbohydrate-rich drinks give you extra carbohydrate in an easily
As competition day draws closer, your diet should contain more
refined carbohydrate (including simple sugars), and you should cut down
on foods high in fiber. This will help you reduce the bulk of your diet
while allowing your carbohydrate intake to rise. Remember, it is vital
that you 'fluid load' as well, and drink as much fluid (not alcoholic!)
as you can in the few days leading up to competition.
By following this regime your glycogen stores should be et least
doubled by the time you are ready to compete - and you should not
experience the side-effects connected with earlier loading techniques.
Should I Use Carbohydrate Loading ?
Carbohydrate Loading is only recommended and is only beneficial if
you participate in endurance events lasting longer than about 90
minutes, or if you take part in multiple-event competitions over a