Mind & Body Fitness

For special nutrition, Long Distance runners or athletes taking part in many long distance and cardiovascular endurance ( ie. AEROBIC or STAMINA ) races such as the Marathon, Triathlon, Long Distance Cycling etc, usually practice in what is known as Carbo Loading.

After a meal, our body can have glucose present in their blood for about 5 to 7 hours, after which the glucose levels drop off unless we take in food. However, if we have a heavy meal, the amount of glucose rises and this rise in glucose will trigger the secretion of the hormone Insulin.

Insulin will convert the extra glucose into Glycogen which will be stored in the liver. Whenever there is a need for glucose for energy,( when glucose level drops ) another hormone called Glucagon will be secreted and this Glucagon will convert the stored Glycogen in the liver back to become Glucose for energy use.Thus we have adequate Glucose for normal energy usage.

However during the Marathon or Triathlon or cross country cycling events, there will a great demand of energy from Glucose, and this Glucose can only last for a few hours. Thus it is important that the body must have stored Glucose or Glycogen available.

For this reason, long distance or endurance athletes need to have stored Glycogen. Thus the Carbo Loading is usually practiced amongst these athletes.

The process of Carbo Loading is as follows:

  1. For 7 or 8 days before the event, the athletes eat a lot of carbohydrate everyday,such as rice, bread, mee, pasta.
  2. One day before the event, they eat normal food so as not to burden the body during the run or event.
  3. Thus on the competition day, the athletes have a good storage of Glycogen to last them 3 to 4 hours of sustained physical activity.

Dr. A Wahab Kosai

Mind & Body Fitness