Carb Loading

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Food NameCarbFructoseGlucoseSucroseStarch
Butter, salted0.1    
Butter, whipped, with salt0.1    
Butter oil, anhydrous0.
Cheese, blue2.3    
Cheese, brick2.8    
Cheese, brie0.5    
Cheese, camembert0.5    
Cheese, caraway3.1    
Cheese, cheddar1.3  0.2 
Cheese, cheshire4.8    
Cheese, colby2.6    
Cheese, cottage, creamed, large or small curd3. 
Cheese, cottage, creamed, with fruit4.6    
Cheese, cottage, nonfat, uncreamed, dry, large or small curd6. 

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  • Nutrition data are calculated per 100 g (3.5 oz) of food weight unless otherwise noted.
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What is Carb Loading?

information from the National Institutes of Health

Carbohydrate loading, commonly referred to as carbo-loading or carb-loading, is a strategy used by endurance athletes, such as marathon runners, to maximize the storage of glycogen (or energy) in the muscles.

Carbohydrate loading is generally recommended for endurance events lasting longer than 90 minutes. For many endurance athletes the foods of choice for carbo-loading are those of low glycemic indices due to their minimal effect on serum glucose levels.

Since muscles also extensively use amino acids when functioning within aerobic limits, meals should include adequate protein on top of carbohydrates. Large portions before a race can, however, be detrimental to race-day performance if the digestive system has not had the time to adequately process the food.

Carbohydrate loading generally involves greatly increasing the amount of carbohydrates you eat several days before a high-intensity endurance athletic event. You also typically scale back your activity level during carbohydrate loading.

Purpose of Carb Loading

During digestion, your body converts carbohydrates into sugar. The sugar enters your bloodstream, where it's then transferred to individual cells to provide energy. Sugar is stored in your liver and muscles as glycogen — your energy source.

Your muscles normally store only small amounts of glycogen — enough to support you during recreational exercise activities. If you exercise intensely for more than 90 minutes, your muscles may run out of glycogen. At that point, you may start to become fatigued, and your performance may suffer.

The purpose of carbohydrate loading is to supersaturate muscles with glycogen for competition. To fully use the glycogen stores, the competition should be longer than 60 to 90 minutes.

Nutrients in Effective Carb Loading

The composition of carbohydrates in the athlete's diet during carbohydrate loading is as important as their share of the overall caloric intake.

Most dietary carbohydrates consist of varying proportions of two simple sugars, glucose and fructose.
Fructose may be metabolized into liver glycogen, but it is ineffective at raising muscle glycogen levels (which is the objective of carbohydrate loading). Consequently, sources of high-fructose carbohydrates, such as fruit and sweets, are less than optimal for the task.
The classic carb-loading meal is pasta, whose caloric content is primarily due to starch, a glucose polymer. Other high-glucose meals include bread, rice, and potatoes.

In general, simple carbohydrates (simple sugars: monosaccharides and disaccharides) are not ideal for carb loading, as they provide your body with quick-digesting carbs, complex carbohydrates are preferable.

Carb Loading: What and How Much to Eat?

This food database provides data on total carbohydrate, starch and various sugars to help you make optimal food choices for carb loading.

How much carbohydrate you need depends on your total calorie goal as well as your sport. For most athletes, 5 to 7 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight a day is right for general training. However, endurance athletes may need 6 to 10 grams of carb per kilogram (2.2 lbs) of body weight.

Complex Carb Content of 8,000+ Foods

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