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Carbohydrate loading diet
|Days before competition||Training duration||Diet|
|6||90 minutes||Modified training diet|
|5||40 minutes||Modified training diet|
|4||40 minutes||Modified training diet|
|3||20 minutes||Carbohydrate loading diet|
|2||20 minutes||Carbohydrate loading diet|
|1||Rest||Carbohydrate loading diet|
Carbohydrates exist in simple (table sugar) and complex (whole grain) forms. During step two, an athlete who is carbohydrate loading consumes both forms.
Energy derived immediately after ingestion of carbohydrates is in the form of glucose. Excess glucose that is not immediately used by the body is stored in the muscles as glycogen.
Upon exertion, the body will use any available glucose for energy before attempting to use stored glycogen. Glycogen stores are typically depleted within 90 minutes of continuous activity. After this, the body must switch to other less efficient pathways to supply the muscles with adequate energy. This is usually the point when the athlete begins to experience fatigue and performance begins to decline.
Carbohydrate loading does not benefit athletes who participate in non-endurance sports, such as football, volleyball, and basketball. Athletes in non-endurance activities replenish their body's energy supply by eating during events. In addition, the rest between activity allows the body time to recover.
Advocates claim that the carbohydrate loading diet increases the ability of muscles to store glycogen. As a result, the body has more energy to burn before the onset of fatigue.
Preliminary evidence supports the theory that carbohydrate loading may boost immediate sports performance. However, most experts warn against carbohydrate loading as a long-term eating strategy for athletes. Over time, an individual may loose muscle mass, which may lower sports performance.
Overeating with the intent of carbohydrate loading may result in weight gain, even if foods are fat free. Critics claim that individuals may experience fatigue because carbohydrates usually only provide short-term energy storage.