Thursday, October 20, 2011

Carbo-loading, how the HELL?

Okay so what's the big deal with carbo loading before a race?

I've been reading and listening to a lot of this talk lately and it DOES seem to make sense.  Loading up on carbs should actually be done 2-3 days leading up to the race.  It allows your body to stock up on glycogen stores.  Glycogen is our bodies most easily accessible source of fuel.  When we run out of glycogen stores our body starts using fat for fuel which is a much slower process and results in poor performance.  So.. we fill our muscles up to the brim with glycogen (they say).

Now, don't get me wrong, this does seem to make sense.  It just doesn't make sense for me from the diabetes aspect of it.  I also will fully admit that perhaps I am doing things wrong to begin with.  I naturally eat a low'ish carb diet.  I do this because it has proved to be the easiest way for me to manage my diabetes day to day.  I eat an average of less than 100g carbs a day.  Sometimes it's a lot less than that and sometimes it's a bit more.   I was told by a CDE once that 130g/day is the minimum carb intake for someone who is not active.  230g/day is the average for someone if they are active.  I don't doubt her words, it's just that more carbs has never worked very well for me.  It always seems like the more carbs I eat, the longer it takes for my body to process those carbs. Ergo the longer my blood sugar stays elevated. I have the same carb intake whether I'm training for a marathon or not.  That's where I feel that I'm doing it wrong.  If carbs are the quickest and best source of glycogen and glycogen is our bodies easiest source of fuel... then it would seem to be smarter to eat more carbs.  Right?  I have noticed some much better runs when I've consumed more food than usual the day before.

I mean, I have come this far already doing what I've been doing so why change now?  I don't exactly plan on changing (too much), I was just wondering if I would perform better?  I just don't know how I would do it... get the carbs in that is.  I rarely eat more than 40g carbs in a single sitting because it wrecks havoc on my blood sugars no matter what kind of carb it is.  The other option is eating often. But then my blood sugar will be perpetually on the high side don't you think?  I think that's what would happen. I guess I'm wondering if high blood sugars for a few days would be worth it.

I was reading the newest Runner's World magazine which is what got me to thinking about this in the first place.  There is a really good article on carbo loading.  There's just this one part of it that really makes me question how the hell to carbo load with diabetes.

They give this "A day of carbo-loading for a 150-pound runner"

611g total?!  SIX HUNDRED AND ELEVEN?    Seriously?

Now I know this is not aimed at ME and it's not like I'm taking it to heart.  I just look at that and think, "How the hell would I manage my blood sugar on 611g of carbs?" That's like 60units of insulin a day not including basals.

I don't think I've ever eaten that many carbs in my entire life in one day.  I understand carbo-loading but that, to me, sounds like carbo-OVERloading.  My diabetes would never be able to deal with that in a smooth manner. I just get a little concerned thinking how the hell am I ever going to successfully run for 5'ish straight hours if I can't carbo load properly.

So it's a guideline.. and a large portion of those carbs in that menu are coming from liquids. But for me as a diabetic runner, it is a guideline I'm NOT going to follow.  Is this what normal non-PWD would do?  And if so, how would one alter that for diabetes?

I'm going to TRY and carbo-load starting now since I'm 4 days away. No, not 611g carbs worth, but I will aim for at least 200g, that's twice my normal carb intake. Now if only I could achieve that with chocolate and potato chips ;)


  1. OMG that's crazy 611g carbs per day. I could never ever do that. I average about 130-150g carbs per day and think that's sometimes too much for my blood sugar management. Eeek. I have found that a lot of these magazines that show "healthy" meal planning and include the carb counts of the foods they list end up being super high carb per meal. Throw in a marathon runner

    Keep us posted on how you feel with the extra carb loading. All the very best in your race. You're gonna kick ass forsure!

  2. WHAT?!?!?! That is a crazy amount!!! I can't even imagine how you could be that hungry! Well, mixing it up could be interesting to try, but 611 is just crazy! Best of luck on your race! You're gonna be awesome!!

  3. I don't carb-load becuase it also does horrible things to my diabetes management. I don't really feel that it does any good for diabetics, either, because we have to aminister insulin ourselves. I just try to increase my hydration before instead. That has seemed to work well. You're going to do great in your marathon!

  4. I wish I had something useful or helpful to say. Justice could help you carb load ;) he eats like he's always preparing for a race lol

  5. Can't talk from a D point of view, but was at a talk with an ultra runner and he was against carb loading. He said just eat normally. We don't carbs load for 20 milers. I can't be very helpful though cause my first marathon is Monday week so I can't give you amy personal experience. (I sometimes wonder is carbsloading just an excuse to pig out after 3 months training?) Good luck with whichever option you choose.

  6. I am soooo excited for you Sculls!!! AND...DAMN...611 is a SHIT TON! Interesting to read your normal consumption. I think Joe eats about 200grams a day. Oy!

  7. I read that article, a non-D (non-marathon) runner, I thought 600+ was a ton, too. (an entire bag of Swedish Fish?!? whoa)

    I think a normal diet and good rest the day before and a food/hydration plan for the day of is your best course. But who am I? :)

    GO GET 'EM!! We're all rooting for ya, Scully!!

  8. I've heard that the reason for someone to carb load is to ensure no hypoglycemia during a race because of how lows deplete all of our glycogen, so I'm not sure if it does a diabetic any good? Maybe it will though (cuz I have no clue the ins and outs of the science on this) and I'll be very interested to hear how upping your carbs works for you. Here is some great info I found:

    Anyway, I'm SO EXCITED for you! :D :D :D

  9. holy!! that's a crazy amount of carbs for 1 day. i couldn't imagine eating that much.
    well whatever you decide (and to me even 200g sounds like alot!), i am sure you'll do great!
    best of luck on your run! i am excited to hear how it goes!
    ROCK ON!!

  10. It's 1:30 on Sunday, 10/23... hope you're having a great race!! Go Scully, Go!


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