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Carb-loading can be a beneficial practice for some athletes in Utah, but it is not necessarily the best dietary approach for everyone. During exercise, the liver and muscles use glycogen–stored glucose–for energy. Glucose can be found in most food groups, but the body converts carbohydrates into glucose much more easily than proteins and fats.

If you’re looking to run a marathon in the mountains of Utah, carb-loading could be a good way to extend your energy reserves without “hitting the wall.” This is true for any strenuous exercising that lasts for 90 minutes or more, since it is at that point that the body begins to run low on stored glycogen. If you’re looking to simply improve your health and fitness through regular exercise, carb-loading is probably not for you.

Carb-loading before low-, medium-, and short-circuit high-intensity training can actually inhibit the metabolic and fat burning benefits of exercise–even if the increased glucose temporarily improves performance during exercise. A better pre-workout meal would consist of stress-activated food nutrients, such as organic black coffee, unsweetened cocoa, green tea and whey protein.

Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all plan to total health and fitness. Personal goals, current fitness level and diet all play a part in determining the right fitness plan for you. If you are unsure of how to reach your fitness goals, a certified trainer can help you come up with a plan that is specially tailored to your individual needs.

* Image Credit: Joy A. Martin