Favorite quote of the day from Anonymus:
Those who have’t totally dialled in their life-style, including diet, hydration, sleep, have no right to exercise !
It is not only me who is reinforcing the thought, that exercise is only good for you, if you were totally healthy. Get all things under control and just than go to the gym. No don’t think it is too radical ! You can still go for a pleasure bike ride or a long walk. However, there is no point of blowing your heart up while carrying 150pounds extra, have swollen ankles and just smoked a cigar !
Sugar loading or carb loading before a race is quiet necessary. Regardless, that you were high carb low fat or low carb high fat. However, there are certain facets to definitely understand, before you start chugging down pasta or cheap white maltodextrin powder.
A lot of athletes started a healthier lifestyle, a reduced carb intake in general, replacing those unhealthy carbs with healthier fats. They felt immediately better, had more endurance and had tons of energy. In this case the problem is, that actually 90% of the time, it is not the removal of carbs and the addition of fats, what created health, but the removal of unhealthy flour and sugar laden produce. They could have been created the exact same state, by totally removing those pasta, bagel and muesli meals and replacing most of them with fruits and fresh starches, with an occasional meal of pulses and seeds. Yes, high carb athletes long term show no slowing down, no inflammation and no issues what so ever, if lived properly ! Runners fuelling with pizza, pasta, bread, bagel, corn-flakes, cous-cous, cookies, regardless that they might be 100% plant based, inflammation markers go up sooner or later! Yes even if you consumed only the so called healthy cereal based starches like millet, amarant, quinoa and fonio and so.
These type of healthy individuals should be actually eating just like normal as most of their meals contain sufficient amount of carbs and calories to charge up the glycogen stores in about 24 to 36 hours. The important factor is, that non of their classic high carb meals would create any new stress or imbalance. Eating fresh carrot juice with some spirulina for breakfast, a meal of mangoes and papayas for lunch and sweet potatoes with home made salsa for dinner. No complication needed, of special breakfast mixes, protein pancakes, veggie – burgers. Why complicate ?
However, in case of a high fat individual, who don’t eat anymore large amount of carbs and following a sub-max training lifestyle, a giant charge of processed or unprocessed carbs can cause deleterious effects on current state, but on race performances too ! This is why, I prefer in general, metabolic flexibility and this is why, I do not recommend having an enormous meal of carbs at one sitting. However we should also avoid putting carbs and a high fat meal together, nor should we snack in-between meals, neither can we go hypo-caloric. Can we ?
So in case of a runner who consumes most of his calories from quality fats, like avocados, some nuts and seeds, some animal produce, the solution is simple. During taper week, multiple strategic days of low aerobic activities needed, to not to empty further those glycogen stores. Following the MAF method, that would be 180 – your age – 10 beats of a heart rate, with some sprints. Most calories should be coming in during the first or first two meals of the day. That means eggs, avocado and olives for breakfast. An oil/butter/cheese and nut loaded salad, or if you ate meat before a race, then a big salad of low fibre veggies with a chunk of steak for lunch. From 13pm, you would be consuming only water till 19pm, when a small to medium size meal of white cooled rice with some raisins and tons of raw soft leafy veggies would be appropriate.
Individual needs and habits are very important. While I would defintiely not consume veggies like red cabbage, raw beetroot and romain lettuce before a race, I digest superbly well baby spinach and butter lettuce, squash, steamed carrots, steamed potatoes. I had a client whose best pre race day meal was raw-fermented sauerkraut and a big steak. Period ! Either ways, regardless how you handle fibre, you should still avoid it in large quantities !
One good tip is sardines for lunch as it contains all the necessary fats, omega 3s and digest superbly well. Fruits are very good and digest easily too ! You have to be aware of one thing though, to make a fruit very digestable, it has to be perfectly ripe and consumed alone ! Eating a melon is not problem. Eating half a melon after dinner, yes, it will ferment on top of your meal and make you fart ! Eating a fruit salad with yoghurt will not digest well and you’ll have some surprises during race ! Food combination or could say, the non combination, but the simplicity of foods is a great secret to longevity and healthy living, but racing too !
The point of this whole article is to show that the 3 days of pasta feast with malto-loaded carbohydrate drinks is totally unnecessary. Those following a healthy lifestyle, eating, sleeping and hydrating well should be well aware of their good and sustainable habits and already know that if training is adjusted well, glycogen stores will be totally topped race morning ! Also that regardless that the sugar tank is only 75%, it should be largely sufficient to cover any race distance, as mostly fat would be used as fuel !