Carbohydrates are the most efficient fuel for energy production. They can also be stored as glycogen in muscles and the liver, functioning as a readily available energy source for prolonged, strenuous exercise. For these reasons, carbohydrates may be the most important nutrient for sports performance.
The diet has two stages:
- Depletion--The athlete performs the sport to the point of exhaustion to deplete stored carbos in specific muscles. Then the athlete follows a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet for three days.
- Carbo-loading--A high-carbohydrate diet (400 to 600 grams of carbohydrate per day) is eaten for three days while training is reduced.
Modified versions of this diet eliminate the depletion stage, or require a smaller amount of carbohydrate to be eaten, and appear to produce similarly effective results.
Ready, set, go! Follow the advice of a trained exercise expert when using this diet. Emphasize whole grains, starchy vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy products, and carbohydrate-replacement beverages. Reduce intake of fatty foods to achieve a relatively high-carbohydrate diet.