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Carbohydrate loading diet

Related Terms

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Background

  • The carbohydrate loading diet, also known as carbo loading, is a week-long eating and exercise plan, which is said to boost the performance of endurance athletes by boosting the reserves of available energy during continuous activity. The carbohydrate loading diet does not change the performance of athletes who participate in "stop and start" (non-endurance) sports such as baseball, soccer, and football. Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy from food in most American diets. Common foods that are high in carbohydrates include bread, pasta, bran, cereals, and potatoes.
  • The carbohydrate loading diet is a relatively new diet. Advances in the understanding of human metabolism in the last 50 years led to the theories on which the carbohydrate diet is based.
  • The World Health Organization recommends that people derive 55% - 75% of their body's energy from carbohydrates. The carbohydrate loading diet involves an increase in carbohydrate intake while simultaneously decreasing the consumption of fatty foods.
  • There is evidence that carbohydrate loading may improve sports performance by delaying fatigue on the day of the event. However, most experts advise against carbohydrate loading, except on a very occasional basis, because of the long term consequences related to altered carbohydrate intake, such as weight gain, muscle wasting, and possible development of insulin resistance and diabetes.

Diet Outline

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Theory/Evidence

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Safety

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.