30 Day Challenge – Meal Plan: Day 25 & Race Week Carb-Loading – Does it work?

Posted on May 26, 2011


That’s the finish line I’ll be heading toward this Saturday! On the field at Soldier Field in Chicago after completing 10 successful miles!

I know that it’s almost summer (not really if you live in the Midwest, rain, bah!) but we busted out the crock pot to make a soup out of the leftover bits of that roaster chicken we bought this week for the Almond Chicken (which you need to be making this weekend!) Drew said we could put the bird in the crock pot, I had leftover veggies & stock from the Almond Chicken, so it was decided, we’d make homemade soup. How Caveperson Martha Stewart of us! Soups, when made from the bones of the animal can provide valuable minerals & are a big part of traditional diets of the world.

This just shows you, not everything you try turns out right the first time….I got sick the minute I ate the soup. I have no idea what went wrong because it smelled fabulous when it was simmering in the crock pot but I ate a tiny cup of it & was instantly very sick. So that stunk. And thanks to being sick in the afternoon, you’ll see I really wasn’t interested in dinner. My stomach felt better within an hour of it happening, but no food sounded good to me…you know how you feel when you’ve got the flu? all food just sounds – bleh!

We’ll try the soup again but make some changes this next time. That’s the amazing thing about cooking! When you practice, all those lessons eventually become really great dishes!

**PS – Hey endurance athletes! The pink section below outlines why traditional carb-loading doesn’t work, and how you can do it the scientifically correct way**

Breakfast: 2 eggs topped with leftover diced peppers/shrooms + 1/2 sweet potato

Lunch: 4 -5 oz chicken + warmed kale salad (so easy! I grabbed what looked good at the salad bar to take home & saute with some kale I had in the fridge – shredded beets, carrots, zucchini & mushrooms – throw it all in the pan with some oil & saute until wilted)

Snack: the soup(bah!) + protein shake + apple & almond butter (it was definitely food poisoning because within a few minutes of ingesting the soup I was sick, then was totally fine after that, so I carried on with my planned afternoon snack)

Pre-Run Snack: fried yucca (“carb loading” has been highly touted in endurance training circles, but the traditional route of eating lots of grain-based starches the week of a race is all wrong, studies have shown that simply ingesting an increased carb load is not effective in aiding the body in carb-storage for future use i.e. during the race. There IS a method of “carb-loading” that can help the body boost it’s muscle & liver storage of glycogen, and timing is critical to the process. What athlete are trying to do when they carb-load is store extra carbs away so that, come race time, they can unlock those carbs & use them as fuel for their event. We store carbs in our liver and muscles. Excess carbs that are not used for IMMEDIATE energy (as in, within 2 hours of eating them) are stored as fat. Your muscles are not open for carb reception any hour of the day – only during the window of time just before/during/just after the strenuous workout. So to properly carb-load, it is advised to consume a starchy vegetable (like potatoes/bananas/yucca) just prior to exercise so that it is in the blood stream during the workout & thus can go right into the muscle stores that open up during the workout. Of course, endurance athletes take in carbs during their workout in the form of drinks/gels/chews, but that is mostly needed & effective for workouts that are lasting 60+ mins. The last window to carb-load is immediately following a strenuous workout. The muscles have opened their glycogen stores & eating a banana/potato/yucca will feed directly into them. So if you’re carb-loading, this is a successful approach to take.)

“Dinner”: brocolli + kale (yep, totally not hungry for anything given my stomach from earlier in the day, but I did my best)

picture cred: my chicago athlete