Runners: The Carb Loading Myth
So does carb loading before a race really help runners?
The Old School Answer: Yes
The New School Answer: It depends.
Come on now… Metabolic ME, right?
Following The Runner’s Pack
I ran competitively for over 14 years, including 5 years at Louisiana State University as part of 2 National Championship Track teams and the Cross Country team.
Most Friday nights we were eating out since a majority of our meets were on the road. As every good runner should, I always ordered the pasta, or anything I could find that was high in carbs. Whether I was running the 800m or 10k, those carbs were going to take me there. After all, so many of my teammates were running great eating this same way.
However, by the next morning on race day, my energy levels would feel tanked out. Some races I felt like I was running on fumes before the race even started. Why? I felt great the night before. But on race day, instead of being in the lead, my body felt like lead.
I was frustrated. I was running twice a day, in incredible shape, and getting plenty of rest. I knew that wasn’t the problem. It felt like something more foundational. I ruled everything out except for my food choices. Time to try something different.
From Carb Loading to Protein Load Mode
The next several races I started to eat more meat the evening before the race. “I’ll take the pork chop” or “Hmmm… How about that steak.”
And guess what happened. My times improved. But most importantly, I FELT better (a highly relative term for distance running that directly correlates to total distance ran and can also mean “I felt less terrible”). In other words, my energy was more steady and sustained. No more energy spikes and crashes. No more hitting the wall. I felt like I could run forever (and actually wanted to).
Years later, when I found out about Metabolic Typing®, I realized retrospectively that every time I ate more meat and fat in a meal and less carbs, I DID feel better. Finally, here’s a science that backs up my experience as well as others who are having the complete opposite experience. In a nutshell, I metabolize fats way better than I metabolize carbohydrates as an ideal energy source.
This is a big part of what motivated me to create and share Metabolic Me®. I’m tired of seeing everyone struggle because they are still operating on old school dogma. I want to promote this paradigm-crushing new realization that we are all different, and we each require different fuel to run efficiently.
Doing Versus Being
After all, running is an activity. It’s something we DO. Yes, a runner may require a bit more carbs than a non-runner due to their more aerobic activity level. But the body has a certain state of BEING that comes first. There’s a certain nutritional mix requirement based on one’s inherent genetics. What foods does your body metabolize best for energy? The running activity is an afterthought. The BEING comes before the DOING.
So allow me to ask again, does carb loading before a race really help runners?
The Answer: It depends on your Metabolic Type®.
We are all unique with differing nutritional needs no matter your hobby, your sport, your job, or your nationality. It’s BEING before DOING. Always remember this.