I’ve heard comments like this often enough about prep for a race when chatting with athletes near the start line, “oh I’m ready, I had a big dinner last night”. Or perhaps while chatting before hand they will note their huge pasta meal they had at dinner or the massive breakfast they just consumed (sometimes way to close to the start!) Unfortunately one cannot carb load for an endurance event of 3+ hours at dinner or in one meal at breakfast. Not an event where results are expected.
Take for example a 130lb female cyclist prepping for a 130km event. Through trial and error we discover that she feels good on a carb load of 8.5g/kg, her weight in kilos being 59kg.
On top of this she will execute her practiced nutrition and hydration strategy DURING the event, starting within the first 20-30 minutes, or perhaps even in the hours before with her beet juice and caffeine.
In this case her carb load would be approximately 500 grams of carbohydrates the day before. She spreads her lower fiber carbohydrates out evenly, with lean proteins and less fat than usual, in order to make digestion a bit quicker and to leave room for the carbohydrates that are going to help her perform the next day.
Here is an example of what 500 grams of carbohydrates can look like. Now you can see why you can’t do a carb load like this with “a big dinner”.
You need to plan ahead, practice in training and know what works for you and sits best with your digestive tract.
Like your training, your nutrition is an important part of your athletic performance and success. Prepare for the event in training and then execute over the course of the day before your race.
NSAG- Real food, real people, real results