Real Food Carb Loading

I will absolutely admit that in the past I have used carb loading as a way to eat like crap.  Chips? Yep.  Cookies?  Obviously.

This has been the marathon that I really watch my nutrition: during my runs, post run, throughout the training cycle, and for carbohydrate loading.  I have acid reflux – I also suspect I have other things going on in my gut- but that is a different post for a different day.  Runners are already particularly prone to nausea and stomach upset while running, for me adding that on top of wicked acid reflux makes fueling during a run a challenge.

No caffeine, no super concentrated gels, it also directly impacts what I eat prior to and after my run.

Taking all of these things into consideration I have been particularly cautious and careful with this training cycle.  This is the first time I have incorporated protein/fat into my fueling regimen during a run.  I alternate between Huma chia/fruit gels, and almond butter.

This week has been very challenging with regard to eating my goal amount of carbs each day.  My goal was 375-390 g carb per day, most days this week I was about half of that.  In reality I think I will be fine, but it was pretty hard- it was difficult for 2 reasons: there was a lot of temptation to eat crap, and I do eat a lot of vegetables, and protein, so it was hard to just “add carbs” without adding non-nutritious- but “fun” foods.

For weeks like these I do sit down and calculate out my macronutrient needs – especially my increased carb needs to saturate my muscles with glycogen ( utilize guidelines from Nancy Clark). They are not accurately depicted below (because I am too lazy to manually change them in MFP), but I use the macro charts to assess where I am at, but also make sure I am getting enough fiber, fat, and protein.

I updated you a few days ago on what the early week looked like.  Tuesday and Wednesday I was away from home and had to make smart decisions on the road – I focused on vegetables, and whole grains to easier make these choices (quinoa bowls at tropical smoothie cafe, whole grain noodles and veggies at noodles and co) a bit easier.  Not what I would have made at home, but foods I trusted, and again way better than ordering pizza (which was tempting).

But when I was at home, I was making it count I was eating beets, sweet potatoes, adding fruit into my salads, but also eating a lot of veggies too.  It’s really important to remember that for purposes of “eating carbs” the only vegetables that really contain larger portions are potatoes, corn, and peas.  All of our other veggies, have smaller amounts of carb in them: ~5 g of carb per 1 cup leafy greens, 1 cup raw veggies, 1/2 cooked veggies.  I.e. so if I eat 1 cup of riced cauliflower is about 5 g carb- the other night I at closer to 3 cups so ~ 15 g.  1 small sweet potato is easily 30 g of carb- see my point?
The other night for instance I enjoyed some salmon, polenta, asparagus, and a salad with beets, nectarines, and a tangerine vinaigrette.

  A dinner that is normal for me, would have included everything but the polenta.
Because of my job I am hesitant to just try to eat cereal until I am blue in the face- because I know I won’t stay full.  Essentially I have just tried to add more carb into each meal, and snacks.  I have felt like it has worked despite not eating the full amount of carbs I calculated as what I would need which moves me into my point of of fueling during the race tomorrow.  I will have two packs of huma with me, and 2 packets of almond butter.  Based on my training this should be adequate- I have used the half marathons I’ve done, and my other training runs to determine how much/when to eat over what period of time.  I also try to eat semi-intuitively- I try not to wait until I am physically hungry during a race to eat, but I also won’t eat the whole packet if I am starting to feel “full”.

In short I think I am going to be just fine between what I have done this week, and with my fueling plan for tomorrow!


Wow. I am running a marathon tomorrow morning. 


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