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Q&A: Why do runners eat pasta on the eve of a race?

Even if you have just recently become interested in running, you have probably already heard about the carbohydrate load and the fact that all runners eat pasta before the race. For what? How high in calories are pasta? Why not something else? Let's try to figure it out.

Why eat pasta before a competition?

During a long run (a run for 90-120 minutes is considered a long run, depending on the athlete's physical fitness), we consume glycogen and stores fat. If glycogen stores are depleted and new food is not supplied, a person feels weak, muscles work hard, and as a result, an unsatisfactory result. Therefore, athletes, in order to avoid such a situation at an important competition, store glycogen in the body in advance.

Glycogen is carbohydrates processed into glucose and linked together. But you should not start countlessly absorbing pasta and rolls, because our body has prudently created compartments where glycogen is stored: when they are full, the absorbed carbohydrates will be deposited in fat on the sides.

Why pasta, not cake?

If we want to store more glycogen, and not just eat sweets, then we need to choose foods with a low glycemic index, because it is these carbohydrates that release their energy into the blood more slowly and are deposited by glycogen in the compartments, and not as fat under the skin. Foods with a low glycemic index: most vegetables and fruits (but not juices), legumes, brown rice and durum pasta, especially slightly undercooked. From this list, foods without the consequences of bloating, the most satisfying and affordable are pasta. In addition, pasta is rich in vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid and iron. And if you're worried that the pasta won't do good, don't put a large chunk of butter or greasy sauce on your plate.

Q&A: Why do runners eat pasta on the eve of a race?

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How much pasta to eat?

In 1960, Sweden came up with the theory of carbohydrate loading. According to her, if during training the body consumes a lot of glycogen, on days of rest and decrease in activity, the body will more actively store it. Therefore, for three days before the competition, the athlete switches to a high-carbohydrate diet and reduces physical activity.

Plates of pasta, for example, before a marathon, of course, are not enough. Long distance runners (over 90 minutes) are advised to pre-form their diet from foods with complex carbohydrates: pasta, brown rice, whole grain bars and breads, legumes, oatmeal, etc. Recommended content of BJU: 60% carbohydrates, 20-30% proteins, 10-20% healthy fats.

Where and what kind of pasta is there?

You can choose a paste at your discretion. If rfix it yourself, do not bring the pasta to readiness, so as not to increase their glycemic index. Don't add fatty sauces and lots of oil unless you want extra calories.

Q&A: Why do runners eat pasta on the eve of a race?


On the eve of major competitions, the organizers hold their own pasta party. Too lazy to cook - eat pasta, the cost of which was included in the price of the starter package.

In search of real Italian pasta, you can visit one of the restaurants:

  • People & Pasta: pasta with porcini mushrooms - 490 rubles.
  • Osteria Bianca: spaghetti carbonara with guanchale ham - 680 rubles.
  • Pizzamento: spaghetti with tomatoes and basil - 390 rubles.

How to run and keep active: Dean Karnazes on Breakfast Television Vancouver

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