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  1. Charla McMillian, J.D., CSCS

    This article to which I contributed some background research info) raises interesting questions about carbohydrate loading, gender differences noted in research, and how the trained endurance athlete can improve performance. While most points are well highlighted, unfortunately significant factsand contributing factors have been left out in favor of promoting the author’s preference to keep eating as she wishes and not worry about altering habits to ensure championship performance.
    1) the “classic” method of carbo loading with several days of depletion (with risk of irritability, performance impairment mid-training plan, loss of focus, etc.) has long ago been shown unnecessary for effective carbloading. Studies abound showing the same glycogen super-loading occurring with a simple 4 day carb loading phase. These studies include those to which I referred in the research i supplied as well as the articles included in this piece. So there is no need to lament a requirement for nutrient denial before a long endurance event;
    2) The few studies indicating a difference between males’ and females’ ability to increase glycogen storage and use for endurance events were ultimately shown incorrect and that theory disproven when scientists a) corrected for the actual carbohydrate theshold required to induce glycogen super-loading in both genders (8-10 g carbohydrate per kg lean bodtweight — earlier researchers for some reason had decided to feed the women significantly less), and b) actually conducted the studies using long endurance exercise (previous studies used submaximal exercise — very hard to extrapolate results about marathon performance when we’ve only tested them on the leg press . . . ) The comparison is well highlighted in the article mentioned from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition);
    3) The performance differences observed – again as mentioned in the more recent studies – in both genders are statistically significant. For the trained athlete, those statistics are important and can mean the difference between stellar performance and going home with nothing. A difference of between 2% and 20% in time to fatigue seems small unless you’re the runner breaking the tape.
    Obviously for the amateur athlete simply trying to “survive” a race v. performing at optimal level, the choice to keep the pre-diet nutrition exactly the same as always is much more conveneient thatn trying to feed for optimal performance. That same athlete is likely making similar choices for the rest of his/her training, muscular strength and development, supplementation for recovery and endurance improvement, work on stride length and frequency, etc. But when the highly trained oerformer prepares for the next race, I suggest he or SHE include carb loading in their routine, get it right, and enjoy improved performance.

    Eat well, train smart!!


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