Carbohydrates are important for runners and are stored in the body, providing the body with glucose (sugar) – which is converted to energy used to support bodily functions and physical activity. One of the main causes of fatigue is the depletion of your glycogen stores (storage from sugar and carbohydrates that you ingest). If your glycogen storage is high, you have about 90-120 hours (approx. 1,400 to 2,000 calories) of glycogen to fuel your workout or race. But eating the right carbohydrate can be detrimental, as some carbohydrate-rich foods are better for carb-loading than others.
Next time you go shopping take this list of the best carbohydrates for carb-loading:
at the top of our list is anything made with grains: Rice, pasta, cereal, oatmeal, bread. Carbohydrates are the primary nutrient in bread. Grains have the highest fibre and glycogen across all foods and are quick and easy for your body to absorb.
Although fruit is not digested as quickly as rice or bread. Fruits are a functional nutritious option for runners, providing a healthy source of carbohydrates. Most fruit is low in starch but high in sugar and total carbs. Raisins and other dried fruit are especially dense in carbohydrates, as is fruit juice. Bananas, pineapples, grapes, mangoes, and apples are other examples of higher-carb fruits.
Vegetables high in starch, which is a plentiful carbohydrate made up from seeds: potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn are high in fibre when you include the skin, but they are also low in calories. These foods include plenty of vitamins and minerals nutritious for runners and contain high levels of glucose, breaking down the carbs into simple sugars.
Dairy products such as almond milk, rice milk, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese provide a healthy dose of carbohydrates while also containing a high level of protein. But don’t make yogurt the go-to pre-run snack, as it takes over two hours for the body to fully digest.
Good news: consuming sweets and desserts can be good in moderation, but don’t count on them to be high in beneficial nutrients. You can make doughnuts or a piece of cake a carb-loading snack in the days before your race.