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 Pre-Race Carbo-Loading For Peak Performance
Submitted by Rickshaw :: Tue Feb 08, 2005 10:48 am
Glycogen stored in the working muscles is an essential fuel duing endurance events, and boosting the amount of stored glycogen can produce significantly improved race performances. Unfortunately the body can only store a limited supply of glycogen, and once it's gone you'll be forced to slow down. Peak Performance has written a good article describing how to carbo-load to ensure maximum stored glycogen levels on race day. Athletes following their protocol boosted their stored muscle glycogen 50% to 80% above normal levels.

Glycogen is basically sugar, and during intense exercise it's the body's favorite fuel source. Carbohydrate-rich foods are the primary dietary source of sugars that are used to synthesize glycogen. During exercise, the glycogen stores are burned to provide energy for the working muscles. Most people are able to store enough glycogen for one to two hours of intense exercise. Once it's gone, the body turns to burning fat for energy-- a much less potent fuel source. This is one of the main reasons people experience "hitting the wall" during long endurance events. In essence, their gas tank is empty.

Over the years, sports scientists have researched various ways to temporarily boost glycogen storage to supra-normal levels for key races, providing the athletes with a competitive advantage. Many of these techniques involve doing an intense workout to deplete glycogen a few days before the goal race, followed by carbohydrate feasting to trick the body into over-compensating. But performing such a long hard workout shortly before an important race is not ideal. The approach recommended by Peak Performance involves a single very short workout of just 3 minutes, but at an extremely high intensity level, followed almost immediately by ingesting carbs. In their research, this did an excellent job of priming the muscles to accept more glycogen, without tiring them enough to affect the goal race.

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