Should Men And Women Carb Load Differently Before Races?

Carb loading differences in men and women. Does it matter? The research seems to think so. EndurElite Chief Endurance Officer Matt Mosman explains why and how each gender should carb load for optimal performance.

Video Transcription:

Why Male And Female Endurance Athletes Should Be Carb Loading Differently.

Good morning, family of fast. Matt Monsman, the Chief Endurance Office over at EndurElite. Today, we're gonna be talking about carb loading and if men and women should carb load differently. Now, a typical carb loading period before a race looks something like this. About six days before the race and for a few days, you basically decrease your carbohydrate intake to deplete muscle glycogen stores. And this is followed by two to three days, before the race, eating a higher concentration of carbohydrates anywhere from eight to 10 grams per kilogram bodyweight to basically super saturate muscle glycogen stores before your race. And this method has been shown to increase performance up to 20 % and delay fatigue during the races. So tried and true strategy. 

Estradiol....The Hormone Responsible For Different Carb Loading Between Genders 

But an interesting study came across my desk the other day from chief science officer, Jordan Joy, that demonstrated that men and women may need to carb load differently to produce basically optimal race results and to saturate muscle glycogen stores. So we're gonna take a quick look at this study/meta-nalysis done at Baylor University by a Darryn Willoughby and associates and see basically how men and women should be carb loading differently as far as amounts to produce optimal race results. Now, the main difference when you're carb loading for men and women seems to be related to a hormone women have called estradiol which is important in the development of secondary sex characteristics and is at peak concentrations during that "special time of the month". 

Now, estradiol, it appears, has an effect on which substrate the body will use during endurance exercise or racing. More specifically, with a higher concentration of estradiol, it appears, especially at lower intensities in women, that this hormone can affect basically the body's ability to use glycogen and in favor uses triglycerides or fats, which really isn't as quite a high powered energy source compared to glycogen. So let's look at a few studies that this meta-analysis covered and provide a take-home point for you to basically tell you how you, as a woman, should be carb loading different from a man. 

Studies Looking At Carb Loading Differences

So, the first study looked at both men and women. So, both and women increased carb intake from 55% to 75% of total energy intake, total energy intake remained the same. So, they both bumped up their carbohydrates, for men it was 8.2 grams per kilogram bodyweight, in women, it was 6.4 grams per kilogram bodyweight. So, carbohydrates bumped up but total calories remained the same. And the results show that men increase glycogen storages by 41% and improved performance by 45% for this kind of glycogen super compensation carb loading method. On the other hand, women showed no increase in glycogen storages and only 5% performance in increases. So, even though both men and women bumped up their carbohydrate intake up based on a typical carb loading format, the women really didn't see any significant differences in the amount of glycogen that was stored and subsequent increases in performance. 

Now, here's where it gets important. In the second study, men and women achieved the same level of carb super compensation by consuming 12 grams per kilogram bodyweight of fat-free body mass of carbohydrate. Now, for this one, this is where it gets interesting, for this, both men and women showed similar increases in glycogen stores and performance. So, what does this mean for a woman? Well, for a woman to achieve this intake of 12 grams per kilogram bodyweight of carbohydrate, they would need to increase total energy intake by approximately 34% during each carb loading phase before a race. So total calories would go up 34% and then again they'd want to eat about a percentage of that calories, they would want to do 12 grams per kilogram bodyweight fat-free mass in carbohydrates to basically get that same level of glycogen super compensation that will lead to increased race performance and delay fatigue.

The Bottom Line On Carb Loading

So, what's really the conclusion of this study? Well, first and foremost, it appears that men and women do need to carb load differently. Female athletes do have the capacity for carbs super compensation with an increase in calories during the loading phase. So, again, during that three, maybe four-day carb loading super compensation phase, women want to increase their caloric intake by 34% and again, make sure that you're consuming anywhere from, I would say depending on bodyweight and fat-free mass, anywhere from 10 grams to 12 grams per kilogram bodyweight. 

So that is all I have on carb loading and the differences on how men and women should be carb loading before races to produce optimal results. So if you have a buddy that's all about carb loading, especially if they're a woman, please share this video with them. If you want other videos like this on endurance training, nutrition, supplementation, and my other random musings, subscribe to EndurElite YouTube channel or head on over to the EndurElite blog at www.endurelite.com. Get social with us on Facebook and Instagram. And until next time my endurance friends, stay fueled, stay focused, stay fast, and stay informed.



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