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why do runners eat pasta before a marathon

Runners training for the New York City marathon are likely gulping down carbohydrates before the big race in hopes of improving their performance and endurance. And these trained athletes know what they're doing. Carbohydrates are sugar-based molecules, and the body can use some of them to produce glucose. Glucose becomes stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen, molecules that function as long-term energy storage that can be tapped into when needed (such as during a lengthy run). The amount of carbohydrates consumed corresponds with how much glycogen is stored in the body. Translation for marathoners: Stock up on the carbs so you can make it to the finish line. Overall performance Eating carbohydrates prior to a race, speed, energy and alertness, according to Asker Jeukendrup, a professor of exercise metabolism and academic director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. "We have done numerous studies showing that a high carbohydrate intake allows you to train harder, reduce symptoms of overtraining, prevent reductions in immune function and improve endurance performance," Jeukendrup told Life's Little Mysteries. "We have also repeatedly shown that carbohydrate intake during prolonged exercise can improve exercise performance. "
Before, during and after Consuming carbohydrates can also improve performance if ingested before, during or after a workout session. For example, eating carbohydrates before exercise will give a person a boost in glycogen, enabling them to work out for longer. Eating carbohydrates while they exercise will provide them with a supply of glucose in their blood, which will serve as extra fuel and. Even eating carbohydrates after a workout is beneficial, as it has been shown to restore glycogen levels that were depleted during a workout and help muscles better recover.


In fact, a study published in the February 2004 edition of the Journal of Applied Physiology suggested post-workout carbohydrate intake contributes to muscle preservation and strengthening. Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, found that eating 100 grams of carbohydrates after strength training improved the condition and retention of muscle mass. Tips for runners During prolonged bouts of exercise, such as the (42. 16 km) New York City marathon, carbohydrates act as the main source of fuel. Since the body's storage supply of carbohydrates is small and not enough to last a full marathon, it is important to "start with a full tank" by making sure that the energy storage is at its highest at the start of the event, and then "top off" during the race, according to Jeukendrup. "This way, you provide sufficient high energy fuel during the event," Jeukendrup said. "Without these fuels you would still be able to continue, but you would start to use more and more. Even a lean person has plenty of fat, but the problem is that it is a slower fuel and does not provide the same amount of energy per unit of time [as] carbohydrate. " Just how much carbohydrates should a training runner load up on before the big day? "I would recommend eating a very high carbohydrate diet the days leading up to a marathon," Jeukendrup advised. "A bowl of pasta may not cut it. The recommendation is to have at least seven grams of carbohydrates per kilograms of bodyweight in the days before. This can come from pasta, bread, rice, potatoes and other carbohydrate sources. " Got a question? to Life's Little Mysteries and we'll try to answer it.


Due to the volume of questions, we unfortunately can't reply individually, but we will publish answers to the most intriguing questions, so check back soon. As a sports dietician who has run 15 marathons, I get asked one question more than almost any other: WhatБs the right way to eat before a big run? The primary advice youБve probably heard is that runners should pile on the potatoes and pasta in the days before a marathon. This practice, called Бcarbo-loading,Б has long been touted as the way to fuel up for a long-haul race. But does it really work? In a word: yes. When you eat pasta or potatoes, most of the carbohydrates are stored in your muscles and liver as glycogen Б the form of energy your body can access most easily. Glycogen is what fuels your muscles during the race, especially during longer events. Run out of it, and bad things happen. YouБll feel sluggish and fatigued. YouБll probably slow down, and may want to just give up entirely. Athletes call this sensation Бhitting the wall. Б Proper carbo-loading can help you plow through that wall. Filling your muscles to the brim with glycogen in the days leading up to an event improves overall performance and delays the onset of fatigue. The trick to carbo-loading is determining when to start and what you need to add to your diet to go the distance. Who Needs It? Carbohydrate loading is most beneficial if youБre an endurance athlete (marathon runner, swimmer, cyclist) competing at a moderate to high-intensity for 90 minutes or more. If youБre taking on a shorter, lower-intensity activity like a relaxed bike ride, strength training, or five- to 10-mile runs, then you can pass on that extra plate of ziti.


The process helps both men and women, but many female athletes complain that eating enough carbs before a race requires them to take in a lot more calories than usual. However, researchers at Baylor University found that for women to reap the most race-day benefits, they only need to increase their total calories by up to 30 percentБfrom 1800 to 2340, for exampleБfor four days before the starting gun. So even if youБre feeling like youБre eating too muchБthatБs probably a sign that youБre preparing the right way. During race week, the overall goal is to consume enough carbohydrate to Бtop off your tank,Б or store up as much energy (a. k. a. glycogen) as possible. To do this, athletes should aim to take in about 3 to 5. 5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight. So for a 150-lb athlete, the goal would be 450-825 grams of carbohydrates per day. While this might seem like a very wide range, it allows room for you to gradually increase your intake as race day approaches. YouБll start out with a little extra, and be close to the max the day before itБs go time. A simple strategy for the days leading up to a race is to make sure every meal has some high-carb food in itБbagel, bread, pasta, rice, cereals, fruit, etc. Your goal is to eat items that are high in carbohydrates, moderate in protein (meat, cheese), and low in fat. Here are some examples of meals that meet that bill. *Dinner (aim for a light, mild dinner the night before a race) 1 whole wheat pita stuffed with 2 ounces lean deli meat, б cup shredded lettuce, 2 slices tomato, 2 tablespoon fat-free honey mustard 2 ounces pretzels 1 cup unsweetened applesauce 16 ounces sports drink

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