Carbo-loading is not the same as “eat-as-much-as-you-can”. It is important to select high carbohydrate, low fat foods to ensure the total carbohydrate intake is sufficient. Many runners also underestimate the amount of carbohydrate that is really needed to carbo-load sufficiently.

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Recommendations for sufficient carbo-loading:

  • Taper exercise over the last 3 days with total physical inactivity over the last 36-48 hours.
  • Consume 8-12 g/kg carbohydrate per day that is 750 g for a 75 g male athlete.  It is a lot of food and requires planning and regular meals.
    • Divide total amount of carbohydrate needed by 50 to determine amount of 50 g portions. Choose from the 50 g portions mentioned below.
  • Glycogen is stored with water and therefore you should expect to gain up to 2 kg in weight. Remember to drink a lot of water!
  • Cut back on fibre to prevent gastrointestinal discomfort, flatulence and diarrhea.
  • Choose compact sources of carbohydrate like jam, honey, soft drinks, to supplement more nutritious but bulkier forms of carbohydrate.  Don’t underestimate the value of sugar as a compact carbohydrate source.
  • Although nutritional goals for vitamins and minerals may not be met during the carbo-loading regimen, this is only a short period of time in preparation for an event. A complete balanced diet will be resumed after the event.

It’s ALWAYS recommended to practice the carbohydrate loading routine well before competition day to ensure you are familiar with the food choices and quantities.  Do so by carbo-loading before a minor event or long training session.


8 Provitas 3 medium pieces fruit
3 thick slices bread or 2 bread rolls 2 TruFruit fruit bars
3 medium muffins 2 Safari Just Fruit bars
10 crackers or 6 rice cakes 4 tablespoons raisins
1 pita bread 2 small handfuls dried fruit flakes
1 ½ cup pretzels
2-3 rusks
1 heaped cup cooked rice 1 cup Pronutro
1 ½ cup pasta 2 cups cooked oats porridge
8 baby (new) potatoes 2 packets Oatsoeasy
2 medium baked potatoes 1 cup Mealiemeel porridge
1 ½ cups couscous 3 breakfast weetbix
1 medium sweet potato 2 cups breakfast cereal
1 cup polenta/samp 2-3 breakfast bars
1 packet 2 minute noodles
1 ½ cup Ensure (9 scoops) made with water 500 ml Flavoured milk
1 cup Ensure made with low fat milk 4 cups low fat milk
400-500 ml Fruit Juice 1 ½ cup low fat flavoured drinking yogurt
500 ml Coke or other soft drink 1 cup fruit yogurt
250-350 ml fruit smoothie
1-2 sports bars – read the package 1 small handful jelly sweets
800 ml Sports drink 10 marshmellows
2 corn syrup sachets – read label 60 ml (5 Tbsp) sugar/honey/syrup
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