Bodybuilders and athletes alike are always looking for an advantage. It’s a part of the competitive nature necessary to achieve greatness and something every champion intelligently employs. While there is no quick substitute for hard work and dedication, taking advantage of time sensitive intricacies towards the end of a prep is both necessary and highly unique to each individual. If you want to be your best on a specific day and pull out all the stops, then the final days and hours before competition are very, very important and must be as calculated as every other detail in your prep. Whether you are getting ready to step on stage or looking at a grueling triathlon, “loading” energy is a requirement you will not want to miss out on doing, and if properly executed will give you the advantage you have been looking for and waiting for.
3-4 Days Before Event
At this point, you have pretty much done all that you can do, and it’s too late if you haven’t put the work in. If you have, however, this is a time you have been waiting for as it is a chance to eat a lot of food in the hopes of storing energy for when it is needed. For this article, I’m only going to focus on carbohydrate consumption as this is where many people usually go wrong. At 3-4 days out, you are going to want to consume low glycemic carbohydrate foods as the body digests them at a slower rate, and allows for your liver to start storing the ever so important glycogen for later use. My suggestion is to start consuming sweet potatoes, brown rice and oatmeal keeping a close eye on how your body is reacting to the food. If you are getting too bloated and uncomfortable for the amount of food you are eating at each meal, back it off a bit and then adjust accordingly to what you think you can handle. Keep eating these foods every two hours to store the glycogen.
1 Day Before Event
By this point, your glycogen stores should be very high, and you have successfully filled your “reserve” tank for the difficult times during competition that lay ahead. You can start to slowly lower the volume of food you are consuming to avoid any stomach bloat and possible digestion problems. Increase the amount of water you are drinking and towards the end of the day introduce a new type of carb source into the equation by way of high glycemic foods. Chances are your competition is going to start in the morning, so you are going to want energy to be immediately on hand. This is where fast acting carb sources come into play. By eating foods such as regular potatoes, rice cakes, white rice, and pasta so close to the competition, you don’t allow your body to metabolize them in the same fashion as the slow acting carbs, and therefore the glycogen produced from eating these foods is in the bloodstream and ready to be used on demand and as soon as you start performing.
Day of the Event
To say that you are completely energy loaded by now would be an understatement and for that reason, a small meal an hour before the event is all you need. Those fast acting carbs you ate the night before are now acting like rocket fuel in your body ready to be burned up for the initial blast of competition. Once that energy is used up, your liver will start releasing all the stored glycogen from eating those slow acting carb sources days ago, and you will have sustained energy to keep you going and get you through some of the most difficult parts of competition. You should feel nice and full in your muscles, with a ton of energy, lots of endurance and ready to rock-and-roll.
I strongly feel that there is a must have supplement when trying to load energy. DGC delivers a precision carbohydrate, electrolyte, vitamin, and mineral matrix that ensures a higher and faster rate of carbohydrate transport and energy utilization during exercise. With DGC on hand, you already have the advantage of a specialized energy loading program.
Energy loading is unique to each individual. The best thing you can do for yourself should you decide to go this route before competition is learn about your body’s insulin sensitivity. Without this shuttling hormone, none of those above processes can happen. My suggestion is that you do a few trial runs with loading in the months before competition, learn how your body uses and stores energy, pay attention to how you feel during and after loading and then create a plan. Energy loading is not a trick, but it can certainly be tricky.