The Dangers of Carbo-Loading

So often, you hear of athletes (especially runners) going on carbohydrate binges to bump up their performance. Conventional wisdom has told us that carbo-loading is the way to go to improve athletic performance. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. More athletes and people in general need to be savvy to the dangers of carbo-loading.

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The theory that surrounds carbo-loading is to increase the stored amount of carbohydrates in the body, such as glycogen, so that more energy is yielded. The technical term for carbo-loading is “carbohydrate super compensation”. This process is as follows: a person partaking in this method will first deplete the body completely of carbs. The individual will then continue to train. That person will then up his carb intake by consuming especially lots of starchy carbs.

Endurance athletes will opt for carbohydrates such as breads and pastas. While they deem this to be as a superb way to gain a competitive edge, unbeknownst to them this is actually hindering them. Grains such as wheat contain gluten which can cause a lot of havoc in the body as we previous outlined in The Dangers of Modern Wheat.

Gluten is a problematic protein composite, partially comprising of storage proteins, known as prolamins. You may think you are off the hook by consuming other grains, but don’t be fooled even if they do not contain gluten, they still have their own prolamin variations which are still harmful.

On a side note, some people who are wise to the hazards of gluten opt to eat rye bread in a misguided attempt to dodge a bullet, but rye also contains gluten. It may contain less gluten than wheat, but it still has gluten. Prolamins and gluten will travel into the blood stream which could potentially cause auto-immune disease.

Consuming foods that are rich in prolamins and gluten is going to increase the level of zonulin which regulates intestinal permeability. Undigested protein will pass through because of spaces formed from the raised zonulin level. The body will then prompt an immune response that has antibodies which could also attack other bodily systems. The result could be disastrous and may result in various ailments as well as inflammation in the joints.

What about if you are diabetic or insulin resistant? Carbo-loading could especially be dangerous in this instance because they raise insulin levels in the blood which further aggravates and complicates the symptoms of diabetes. Carbo-loading could also encourage gastrointestinal distress in the body which will hinder athletic performance.

Symptoms include bloating, cramping, abdominal distension and even pain – that’s not going to do you any favours if you are making an attempt to break past your athletic barriers. The bottom line is carbo-loading is not good for you.

It is going to hamper your performance as an athlete and it will slow down the recovery process. Rather encourage the body’s reliance for fats as an energy supply (check out Why Fat is Good For You). Also check out the Paleo Diet, it has been known to assist with performance and recovery and scores of athletes (especially CrossFitters) across the globe swear by it.

What are your thoughts on carbo-loading?

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