When You Eat Your Carbs Can Make All The Difference In Your Workout Routine


Amanda Vining,Aug. 20, 2022 7:00 am EST,690

Getting the most out of your workouts can be confusing when there are so many tips, techniques, and best practices out there. One practice that has surfaced on social media, but which experts say isn't anything new, is that of carb loading (via Everyday Health). Also called carb timing, the concept of the practice is in its name, in which it's all about achieving peak performance during workouts with the help of the carbohydrates consumed right before. It's a widespread practice that can pay off with performance results during your next workout and every workout after.

Carbohydrates, or carbs for short, are a vital part of a healthy diet, according to Mayo Clinic. When you think of carbs for athletic performance, you may conjure up images of athletes eating heaping plates of pasta before competitions. However, carbs aren't just found in spaghetti and garlic bread. In fact, carbs are naturally found in fruits and vegetables, along with milk, nuts, seeds, and beans. Carbohydrates, by nature, are a macronutrient found in many dietary items, so you can vary your pre-workout carb options and don't have to stick to the stereotypical bread and pasta, though grains are an excellent source of carbs. Keep in mind, some carbs can come in the form of added sugars or starches within processed foods. Therefore, you'll want to stick to plant-based and naturally occurring sources of carbs for peak workout performance.

How to properly carb load

Like most techniques, conducting the practice properly makes all the difference. When it comes to carb timing, the proper technique depends on the workout you intend to do, and sometimes you may not even have to consider carb loading at all (per Everyday Health). "If you're meeting your daily carbohydrate requirements through your diet, then most workouts can be accomplished without the need for pre-workout carbs," researcher at the Institute of Respiratory Medicine and Exercise Physiology at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Dr. Nick Tiller, tells the outlet. However, if your anticipated workout is going to last 90 minutes or longer, or if it's going to be particularly strenuous, then consuming pre-workout carbs can be beneficial. For intense workouts, drinking a beverage high in carbs or eating a high-carb snack can give your body fuel after it goes through its naturally stored carbohydrate supply.

To carb load properly, you'll want to time your consumption of carbs in accordance with upcoming workouts (via Healthline). Carb timing is also typically aligned with a period of little to no exercise so that the body can process the carbohydrates. You'll want to carb load at least 24 hours before your upcoming workout. For example, if you have a long bike ride scheduled then you may take one to three days off of training beforehand to eat a high-carb diet. Carb timing is usually conducted in one, three, or six-day segments before an intense workout.