We often hear that you need to increase carbohydrate intake during the few days before a race or competition, but is it relevant for you to do it?
What is glycogen overload?
It is a nutritional strategy that increases carbohydrate intake from 3 to 7 days before a sports event. This strategy aims to maximize muscle glycogen stores (the supply of carbohydrates in your muscles) to improve athletic performance.
Could it improve MY performance?
It all depends on the type of sport you practice. Athletes with the most glycogen overload will be runners, swimmers, cyclists, triathletes, cross-country skiers and other endurance athletes (where the activity is maintained continuously for at least 90 minutes). It will be less useful for soccer, hockey, baseball players who have certainly long periods of activity, but who have breaks in their activity. Increasing your carbohydrate intake can be beneficial if you have several games on the same day - in this case, it is essential to maintain the high energy level throughout the day.
Are there any risks associated with glycogen overload?
There is no health risk to increase your carbohydrate intake for a few days. On the other hand, there are certain disadvantages to consider: this can lead to an increase in weight (since each gram of stored carbohydrate must be accompanied by three grams of water!), And one can have digestive discomforts if increasing carbohydrates also increases considerably intake of dietary fiber. To do this, we prioritize high glycemic index carbohydrate foods with low fiber content such as potatoes, pasta, pretzels, cereals, white rice, white bread, etc.
The most common mistakes
1- Inadequate intake of carbohydrates: rely on the advice of your nutritionist to know how much carbohydrate you should ingest. Usually, we look for 12 to 14g of carbohydrates per kg of weight.
2- Too much consumption of fat or protein: we want to increase carbohydrates and reduce the intake of protein and fat. Too often, athletes increase their carbohydrate intake without changing their intake of fat and protein. We end up with too many calories, and it is often difficult to reach the carbohydrate targets.
3- Too much fiber consumption: we want to make the healthy choice and opt for whole-grain products to increase fiber intake? Bad tip! Excess dietary fiber can cause stomach discomfort. In addition, dietary fiber is very satiating - so it may be difficult to eat enough if fiber intake is too high. Choose low fiber foods with your glycogen overload - you'll have better results as well!