Carbohydrate loading, or eating a large amount of carbohydrates before an endurance event, is a common practice used by cross-country runners as a means of improving performance. The idea behind carb loading is to increase the amount of fuel stored in your muscles, giving you more power and energy during your activity. Certain types of carbohydrates are more beneficial for this purpose than others. And, of course, you don't want to eat or drink right before you run.
Bread is a great source of carbohydates, especially before a cross-country meet. Opt for whole-grain breads, because they are a better source of nutrients than white bread. According to MayoClinic.com, a slice of white bread has 66 calories, about 1.5 g of protein and about 0.5 g of fiber. A slice of whole-wheat bread of the same size has about the same number of calories, but nearly 2 g of fiber and more than 3.5 g of protein. While both contain the carbohydrates you need to stock up on before the big race, the whole-wheat bread is the more healthy choice.
Eat pasta to load up on carbs. Mix it up with penne, spaghetti, lasagna and other noodles. Incorporate lean meats like chicken and fish into your pasta to add protein to your meal. While traditional pastas can be great for carb loading before a big meet, consider whole-grain pastas as well. Whole-grain pastas cost about the same as white pastas, so you don't have to pay more for better health.
Vegetables and Fruits
Fresh foods like fruits and vegetables are also carb-rich. They can be a nice change from bread and pasta, which can get boring when you have too much before a big meet. Fresh fruits and veggies also contain fiber, vitamins and other nutrients as well.
Not every source of carbohydrates is good for pre-event carb loading. Table sugar, candy and sweets are almost 100 percent carbohydrates. While this may seem like a good source of carbohydrates when you want to load up on them, the provide only equal empty calories -- calories that don't add the nutrients you need to run well and long. Excessive sugar can also make it difficult to lose weight.