I’ve got a 70.3 on Sunday, so I thought I would try to document my experience carb loading, and invite people to post their experiences here (rather than the existing threads on carb loading that approach it from different angles).
So far today I’ve had 1 cup (dry) oatmeal with blackberries and honey for breakfast, then two large baked potatoes for lunch, and since it’s a Friday at a tech company I also had 3 donuts and a big slice of cake. For dinner I had a 12oz tub of Medjool dates and about three quarters of a box of Ezekiel cereal. I just couldn’t get through the last bowl.
Normally I eat oatmeal with peanut butter, I was surprised when I finished the oatmeal I felt like I could have another bowl no problem. Two baked potatoes was fine. The donuts and cake, on the other hand, felt like “too much” very quickly. The Ezekiel cereal was just a grind (and a crunch). I think I’d like to find other options next time.
Tomorrow the goal is to hit the oatmeal, dates, and some of the Ezekiel cereal again for a huge breakfast, plus some sweet potatoes and more Ezekiel cereal for lunch - aiming to be done with my carb loading in time for a small, protein-rich dinner. I don’t know if I’m going to hit 1000g of carbs, but it will be a lot, at least.
I’ll edit this post as I go through the weekend (hopefully knocking back everything I planned to) and then add another comment after the race on how it went.
Sorry to break it to you but donuts are probably not the best food for carb loading. Having 3 donuts and potentially the cake (depending on what kind of cake it was), loaded you up with fat instead of carbs. Don’t take it the wrong way, I’m just pointing it out, check out the macros for an average donut.
You’re right, of course. On the other hand, one of the reasons I ate the donuts is that even after a fairly large oatmeal breakfast, I felt like I had eaten nothing - I was still hungry! - and I didn’t have the other better carbs with me at the office.
(Boy, the Ezekiel cereal fixed the “did I eat anything?” problem.)
Seriously though, let us know how it goes. I’m looking for better protocols to try. My last event I tried a little too hard to carb load, and ended up feeling bad the day of, which wasn’t great for morale (performance ended up okay though!)
Regarding donuts: adding fat adds a LOT of calories, quickly, to what is already set up to be a very high calorie day. If you want to come out after the race (well, after rehydrating after the race) at about the same weight, a lot of fats with your carbs ain’t the way to do it.
But the bigger issue, I’d say, with donuts is the sucrose. Well, not the sucrose, but the fructose in the sucrose in the donuts. Overloading on fructose is associated with digestive issues, something I definitely experienced yesterday. If you’re aiming for 1,000g of carbs in a day, and you got it all from sugar, that would be 500g of fructose (give or take) - but going over 30g/hr is likely to cause problems, so you’re looking at carefully meting out your sugar intake over 17 hours (or longer if you’re more sensitive to fructose). I’d rather shoot for mostly starchy sources.
Obviously sucrose wasn’t the problem with Ezekiel cereal, and neither was it the volume: I polished off almost a pound of dates both yesterday and today, plus baked potatoes, oatmeal, and sweet potatoes. However, I think I took in more fiber from the cereal than anything else, and that made it incredibly filling (and I have been REGULAR like a clock today, oh my goodness). I think more potatoes and sweet potatoes would have worked better.
A carb drink would probably have been a good alternative, as long as - again - it wasn’t super high in sugar or fructose. On the other hand, I am hopeful that the high fiber leading up to the race (and cutting out fiber about 18 hours before the start) will translate into starting the race with no need to use the bathroom.
Race is in the morning. I’ll share how I felt the fueling went sometime after.
I’m still on Team Donut! My big race after I finish the 70.3 is Austin’s own Tour de Donut, a short (25ish miles?) unsanctioned bike ride where you compete on Donut Adjusted Time: every donut you eat at the donut shops on the route subtracts from your time.
I think that’s the sort of race that @Jonathan refers to as a “dessert” race, in case your last big race didn’t go so well.
This brings up one of the main pillars of carb loading, and one @Nate_Pearson talks about a lot, is the different types of carbs – sugar vs starch (and fructose vs sucrose). I’m guessing a glycemic index/load table would be of use.
Ya’ll ever test you blood sugar after taking a gel?
For what it’s worth; I did once, and…
Glucose meter reading = 90; take gel wait 10 minutes; retest and Glucose meter reading = 110.
I was surprised and probably wont do it again. Those finger sticks hurt.
I didn’t hit my carb loading goals in terms of g carb/kg bodyweight, but I ate a lot of carbs. I hit a wall trying to get too many carbs from Ezekiel cereal and I would have been better served going after more potatoes and rice… and the fiber did not clear out of my system before the race, I had to make one run to a porta-potty at mile 6ish of the run that I would not normally have needed to make.
On the other hand, RPE was definitely down on the bike and I hit a power target that I couldn’t come anywhere close to in my last 70.3 (4 weeks ago). I got a new bike leg PR today, on a course that had 3x the elevation gain of my existing PR. Then on the run I almost matched my run leg PR, again on a course that had 2x the elevation gain of my current PR. The swim was canceled due to flooding, so it’s a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison, but the swim is always my best and easiest leg… so I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the carb loading played a part in my experience.
As always I would have liked to have been faster, but for what I achieved today (relative to my existing performances) I felt great at the end. I have to think that if I’d managed to load more carbs and less fiber, it would have been an even better day. Carb loading in general and the lessons of the last 3 days in particular are definitely going into my logbook for how to prepare for my next big race.