Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Marathon Carb Loading on a Paleo Diet

My views on carb loading for a marathon may be a little different than the average persons. I decided that for Lent I was going to go 100% Paleo. That basically meant no grains, no legumes, no dairy, no sugar, and no processed foods. I had to do some research on running a marathon on a Paleo diet. Lets just face it, one of the great things about running is the carb load before a long run/race. Its the one time we all give ourselves a green light to eat mounds of past and pizza before going and running it all off the next day.
Why carb load?
If you're preparing for a race that is longer than 90 minutes in duration, you may benefit from eating a high-carbohydrate diet for up to three days prior to the event. This type of diet can help fill up the glycogen storage spaces in your muscles and liver and ensure that you're carrying the maximum capacity of stored glycogen that your body can hold.

Read more:
So with that being said taking on a Paleo diet I had to adjust what I normally would have eaten the week and day leading up to my first marathon. So what did I find...

Sweet Potatoes

For a healthier high-carb food, eat sweet potatoes instead. They are higher in fiber than white potatoes, and they have a more gradual effect on your blood sugar, leading to a steadier, more sustained energy source. They are also packed full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that can help your body during the race in other ways

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/464570-are-potatoes-good-carbs-to-eat-before-a-marathon/#ixzz2NLC1M3CP

I started eating sweet potatoes daily for the week leading up to the race. The night before the race I had a bunless hamburger and sweet potato fries. I also had gotten an order of sweet potato fries to go for breakfast in the morning. I felt amazing. I was lined up at the start line very confident in finishing the crazy 26.2 miles ahead of me.
I was worried about fueling during the marathon too. I had discovered Huma Gels a while back and started using them during training. Huma Gel are a natural fuel gel that actually taste amazing. My favorite is def the apple cinnamon., it taste like apple butter. YUM! I ran with 3 of the gels. I was also thankful that Rock n Roll had bananas and oranges out on the course in the 2nd half of the marathon. I was able to run and complete my first marathon 100% Paleo and as a Crossfitter (more about that later). I hope that some of you guys will experiment with the Paleo diet. Its an amazing way to lose weight, sleep better, feel better, and just overall maintain a healthy lifestyle.

QOTD: What do you use to carb load? Would you ever consider trying a Paleo lifestyle?


  1. My stomach doesn't take well to carb loading the night before a race. I found that eating a bigger sized dinner 2 nights before - including chicken or sweet potatoes/potatoes or rice has been a pretty good combo. I eat normally on the night before and it has worked out well so far! I haven't tried the HUMA gel yet, but for half marathons, 1 honey stinger chew prerace and one around mi 6 is all my belly can handle. (water only no gatorade/powerade,etc)

  2. I'm thinking of trying paleo after my first full (in May-I dont want ot mess with my diet too much while training). I'm going to give it a go for a few weeks and see how it makes me feel. I have a friend who does Crossfit and is Paleo as well-do the 2 go together or something? I'm also going to try a few weeks of going more 'raw/vegeterian' and see how THAT is for me as well...I'm really nervous about making sure I fuel right before/during/after my full!

  3. Interestingly I never have really carbo loaded. I just feel like my normal diet has enough carbs, but I LOOOOVE using sweet potatoes. That is a million times better than the bloated feeling you get from a week of bagels and pasta.

  4. Thanks for the post. I'm thinking about doing sweet potatoes as half marathon fuel - trying to figure it all out. Being gluten-free makes the carb loading similar in challenges to paleo. GF pastas can be empty fuel, so figuring out something that is more fuel-efficient for my body is helpful. I ran my last 5k PR off a previous meal of bunless turkey burger and regular fries. I think there's something to that protein/carb/fat combo that works!