A carbohydrate-loading diet, also called a carb-loading diet, is a strategy to strengthen your athletic effectiveness for endurance occasions by rising the total of fuel stored in your muscles.

Carbohydrate loading happens when you eat a higher-carbohydrate “coaching diet” at the exact time that you scale back your activity stage in the times just before an event.


Any physical activity calls for carbs for fuel. For most leisure activity, your entire body works by using its existing electrical power outlets for fuel.

But when you engage in prolonged, intense athletic occasions, your entire body demands added electrical power to hold going. The purpose of carbohydrate loading is to give you the electrical power you need to have to finish an endurance event with a lot less fatigue, enhancing your athletic effectiveness.

Carbohydrate loading may well be most valuable if you might be an endurance athlete — this sort of as a marathon runner, swimmer, cyclist or all a few — preparing for an event that will past ninety minutes or additional. Other athletes frequently you should not need to have carbohydrate loading. It is generally enough to get about fifty percent of your energy from carbs.

Diet plan specifics

The job of carbs

Carbohydrates, also acknowledged as starches and sugars, are your body’s most important electrical power resource. Elaborate carbs consist of legumes, grains and starchy vegetables, this sort of as potatoes, peas and corn. Very simple carbs are observed predominantly in fruits and milk, as perfectly as in food items built with sugar, this sort of as sweet and other sweets.

In the course of digestion, your entire body breaks down carbs into sugar. The sugar enters your bloodstream, wherever it truly is then transferred to unique cells to give electrical power. Sugar is stored in your liver and muscles as glycogen — your electrical power resource.

Maximize your electrical power storage

Your muscles commonly retailer only small amounts of glycogen — enough to guidance you for the duration of leisure workout activities. If you workout intensely for additional than ninety minutes, your muscles may well operate out of glycogen. At that level, fatigue could set in, and your effectiveness may well go through.

But with carbohydrate loading, you may well be ready to retailer additional electrical power in your muscles. This may well give you the stamina to make it via longer endurance occasions. But, you can nevertheless need to have to take in some electrical power resources for the duration of your event.

Carbohydrate loading

Carbohydrate loading is carried out the 7 days just before a higher-endurance activity. Just one to a few times just before the event, improve your carbohydrate intake to about eight to twelve grams of carbohydrate for every kilogram of entire body excess weight. Cut back on food items increased in unwanted fat to compensate for the added carbohydrate-abundant food items.

Also scale back your coaching for a few to four times just before the event. The mixture of taking in additional carbs and tapering activity surface to boost muscle mass glycogen outlets.

How numerous carbs you need to have depends on your complete calorie aim as perfectly as your activity. For most athletes, five to 7 grams of carbohydrate for every kilogram of entire body excess weight each day is proper for standard coaching. (Note that one kilogram equals 2.2 lbs ..) Stamina athletes may well need to have up to twelve grams for every kilogram.

Sample carbohydrate-loading meal system

Here’s a sample carbohydrate-loading meal system for an athlete who weighs a hundred and seventy lbs . (77 kilograms). It is centered on 4.five grams of carbs for each individual pound (10 grams for every kilogram) of entire body excess weight.

You can tweak this sample carbohydrate-loading meal system to fit your have preferences and nutritional demands.

Sample carbohydrate-loading meal system
Merchandise (total) Carbohydrates (grams) Total energy
Milk, unwanted fat-absolutely free (twelve ounces) 18 one hundred twenty five
one simple bagel (4.2 ounces) 52 260
Peanut butter, sleek (2 tablespoons) 7 191
Honey (2 tablespoons) 35 128
Banana (one medium) 27 105
Morning snack
Crunchy raisin and almond cereal (one cup) seventy four 360
Grape juice (twelve ounces) 55 225
Milk, chocolate, reduced unwanted fat (twelve ounces) 46 285
4 slices white bread (one ounce for every slice) forty nine 266
Rooster breast, roasted devoid of skin (4 ounces or one/2 breast) 187
Romaine lettuce, shredded (one/4 cup) .five 2
Purple tomato slices (one/2 cup) 2 11
Mayonnaise, light (2 tablespoons) 3 71
Tortilla chips, very low-unwanted fat, baked (one ounce) 23 118
Infant carrots (twelve) 10 forty two
Afternoon snack
Very low-unwanted fat fruit yogurt (eight ounces) 47 250
Very low-unwanted fat fruit granola (one/2 cup) 33 157
Blueberries (one cup) 21 83
Cranberry juice, unsweetened (twelve ounces) forty two 156
Wild Atlantic salmon, baked (3 ounces) 155
Meal roll, entire wheat (2 rolls, one ounce each individual) 29 151
Milk, unwanted fat-absolutely free (twelve ounces) 18 one hundred twenty five
Salad, incorporate:

-Romaine lettuce, shredded (2 cups)
3 16
-Bell or sweet environmentally friendly pepper (one/4 cup) 2 7
-Eco-friendly apple, chopped (one medium) twenty five ninety five
-Dried cranberries (one/3 cup) 33 one hundred thirty
-English walnuts, chopped (one/4 cup) 4 191
-Asiago cheese, shredded (one ounce) one 134
-Decreased-unwanted fat Ranch salad dressing (2 tablespoons) 6 55
Evening snack
Strawberries (one cup) 11 46
Sherbet, any taste (one one/2 cups) seventy eight 416
Total 754.five 4,543

Source: Nutritionist Professional, 2018


Carbohydrate loading may well give you additional electrical power for the duration of an endurance event. You may well really feel a lot less fatigued and see an enhancement in your effectiveness after carbohydrate loading. But carbohydrate loading isn’t efficient for absolutely everyone.

Other variables can affect your athletic effectiveness or interfere with the usefulness of your carbohydrate-loading strategy, including how healthy you are, how perfectly you hydrate and how intensely you workout. Even with carbohydrate loading, you nevertheless may well really feel muscle mass fatigue.

For men, a carbohydrate-loading diet can improve the concentrations of glycogen stored in the muscles as significantly as 100 % of your typical total. Women of all ages may well need to have to take in additional energy than typical for the duration of carbohydrate loading to get the exact gains as men do.

Regardless of carbohydrate loading, you nevertheless need to have to replenish your body’s electrical power for the duration of endurance occasions to manage your blood sugar concentrations. You can do this by periodically consuming sports drinks, gels, or bars, fruit, or really hard or chewy candies for the duration of your event at the fee of 30 to sixty grams each hour or two. And you should not ignore to eat carbohydrate-abundant food items after your endurance event, also, to replenish your glycogen outlets.


Carbohydrate loading isn’t proper for each endurance athlete. It is a superior idea to check with your medical doctor or a registered dietitian just before you commence carbohydrate loading, particularly if you have diabetes. You may well also need to have to experiment with different amounts of carbs to locate what operates finest for you.

A carbohydrate-loading diet can result in some distress or aspect consequences, this sort of as:

  • Digestive distress. You may well need to have to steer clear of or limit some higher-fiber food items a single or two times just before your event. Beans, bran and broccoli can result in gassy cramps, bloating and unfastened stools.
  • Blood sugar improvements. Carbohydrate loading can influence your blood sugar concentrations. If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar for the duration of coaching or procedures to see what operates finest for you. And discuss to your dietitian or medical doctor to make confident your meal system is safe and sound for you.