The latest on carbohydrate loading: a practical approach

Curr Sports Med Rep. 2008 Jul-Aug;7(4):209-13. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e31817ef9cb.


High dietary carbohydrate (CHO) intake for several days before competition (CHO loading) is known to increase muscle glycogen stores, with subsequent ergogenic performance benefits often seen in events longer than 90 min in duration. CHO-loading strategies vary in characteristics such as type and duration of dietary manipulation and the accompanying exercise/training activities. Additionally, glycogen concentration may remain elevated for up to 5 d. This versatility in CHO-loading strategies allows the athlete greater flexibility in tailoring pre-event preparation. Women who attempt to CHO load should be particularly attentive to both total energy intake and relative CHO intake; dietary CHO should exceed 8 g x kg body mass(-1) x d(-1) or 10 g x kg lean body mass(-1) x d(-1). As long as the amount ingested is adequate for loading, the type of CHO is less important, with the exception of 1-d loading protocols where the glycemic index may be an important consideration.

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Body Size
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Glycogen / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Sex Factors
  • Sports


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Glycogen