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What are the different schools of thought on carbohydrate loading?

As a fitness professional I have tested both methods and the first method generally only works best for bodybuilders.  For athletes the second method is far superior.  Too much depletion causes a decrease in performance which can be detremental physically and mentally for the athlete. 

Also many athletes make the mistake of doing two things wrong.

  1. Loading carbs too much the day before ONLY
  2. Training too intense too close to the event.

You will notice that loading is to be done for 3-4 days before the event and exercise is to reduced in volume and intensity.  Exercise not only causes stress to the body but will deplete glycogen, a rested body that is full of glycogen loaded over 3-4 days means that the day of the even is a fully loaded and primed for maximum performance capacity.

The old school of thought was a two stage process in which an athlete would first carb deplete over a few days and then super saturate their muscles with high carbohydrate meals for three days before a race. The new school of thought eliminates the carb depletion stage and just has the athlete load up on higher levels of carbs for three days before a race. This modified method has been shown to be as effective at loading the body with carbs without making the athlete feel tired.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.