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The Downside of Carb Loading

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carb_loadEndurance athletes, such as marathon or distance runners, often do carb-loading a few days before their main event. The idea behind here is to consume plenty of carbs so that the muscles will have more fuel when they exercise. Although this type of diet is applicable to athletes who are physically fit, when it comes to those who barely work out, carb-loading may have some negative effects.

Negative Effects of Carb Loading

  • Reduced Performance. One of the downsides to carb-loading prior to a race is that carbohydrates get stored in the liver and muscles to be burned to help fuel your body. Once all carbs have been burned, fatigue will eventually set in which can affect your performance. When you do carb loading, you are basically increasing the amount of glycogen that your body can store but if this is your primary source of energy, you will need to find another source for refueling during the race.
  • Increase Weight. Another downside to carb loading is weight increase. This is especially true during the loading phase where you pack in plenty of carb-loaded food without exercising. Although the stores of fat in the body will be negligible in the long run, the body can store excess water and glycogen in the muscles which lead to an increase in weight. Body fat can also increase at this point because of the extra calories being packed in which can trigger the body to store non-essential calories.
  • Muscle Stiffness. The body tends to store about 3 grams of water for every gram of glycogen present. This can lead to muscle stiffness particularly during the carb-loading phase which can hinder or reduce your performance level. Athletes may feel soreness in their muscles not to mention feel a bit clumsy during their workout. Any excess water in the body can cause stiffness which means that it can impact your performance during the main event.
  • Poor Digestion. During the carb-loading phase, your digestive system gets bombarded with fiber that is hard to digest. This can lead to stomach rumblings, flatulence, and even diarrhea as the fiber proceeds to the gastrointestinal tract. Keep in mind that too much fiber in the body can cause blockage in the digestive system which can lead to discomfort to the athlete who is trying to pack in a lot of carbs in their body.
  • Changes in Blood Sugar Levels. Another disadvantage to carb-loading is changes in the blood sugar levels. When you switch to a carb-loaded diet as opposed to a balanced diet of carbs, fats, and protein, your blood sugar levels will increase. When this happens, your body will increase its insulin production in order to process your blood sugar to convert it into energy. This can lead to memory lapses, mood swings, and even fuzziness.

These are just a few examples of disadvantages that you can expect when you do carb-loading. These side effects can occur if you are not familiar with carb-loading as an athlete and as an average individual. This is why, it is best that you talk about your carb-loading plan with an expert to ensure that you get the most out of your diet.