The Best Recipes for Carb Loading

In our last post we detailed how carb loading works to help maintain distance and speed over an unusually intense distance, such as a tough training ride or race event.

As promised we have easy to use recipe ideas that mean you can whip up a carb feast that is healthy and will get you powering through your next big cycling event.

The History of Carb Loading 

Back in the 60s, when carb loading first gained traction it was quite an intense process. A week before a race, riders would exercise intensely and eat as few carbs as possible. The theory was to eliminate old energy stores and then replace them with new stores in the final three days before racing, where riders would do absolutely no exercise and carb load like crazy.

In practice there were terrible side effects that took a toll on the athletes bodies and minds. It turns out that depleting your carb stores isn’t a great idea, the same goes for stopping exercise altogether in preparation for a race.

The carb loading part still stands as an effective and proven race aid.

Luckily the flaws in that theory were quickly uncovered and carb loading tactics and tapering exercises before an event have been refined and proven to the standards we have today.

How to Carb Load Effectively 

The best way to carb load is to start a few days out and increase slowly. If you are not used to carbs in your diet take even more time to get your body adjusted. It’s important not to suddenly introduce new foods to your system before a race if you can help it, which is even more reason to eat a healthy diet on a regular basis!

The same goes for your water intake as well. The best way to reach effective hydration levels is to increase your water consumption gradually a few days out from your race.

Carb loading isn’t just about your performance on the bike, it’s also proven to help you recover. The University of Birmingham’s Human Performance laboratory released studies that showed that those who used carb loading effectively in the lead up to a high performance ride were able to perform well for longer during the event and were less likely to show signs of overtraining afterwards. The study looked at immune system functions as well as typical overtraining symptoms like depression, headaches, chronic fatigue and irritability.

As mentioned, the best carbs come from wholefoods so cook yourself up a batch of something straight from nature, as unprocessed and unrefined as you can. Save time by cooking up a large batch of brown rice or make a one-pot casserole that can last over a few meals.

You want to be sure to decrease your other food intake as you increase your carbs so that you are not eating too much food. It’s not a plan to stuff yourself and gain weight. Make sure you stop eating when you feel satisfied and break up your meals over the day, even having 5-6 small meals if required so you are not accidently packing on excess weight you will need to carry up a large incline.

Look to consume 10gs or carbohydrates per 10 kilos of body weight.

Recipes for Carb Loading 



Oats have an incredible carb ratio so cook up a batch and include some added goodness for a natural hit of sweetness.

  • Sliced banana
  • Sliced fresh mango
  • Blueberries
  • Raisins
  • Dates
  • Cinnamon
  • Nuts



Warm or cold brown rice with your choice of:

50-100gs of meat

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Chicken
  • Turkey

Plus some green stuff

  • Cooked spinach
  • Raw torn up kale
  • Peas
  • Corn

Soy sauce

Dollop of whole egg mayonnaise

Lamb with Sweet potato mash

Ground spices (any or all)

  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • Cinnamon

Sweet potatoes (around 4)

Boneless lamb loin fillets (100-150gs)

2 tablespoons natural yoghurt

Spice up your raw lamb chop with the ground spices. Roast in the oven for extra leanness for 30-40 minutes

While that bakes peel and cube the sweet potatoes, boil until soft and mash.

Stir in yoghurt and about 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

Serve with a sprinkle of fresh coriander

Wholemeal pasta bolognaise

Use whole meal pasta instead of processed pasta for extra goodness. Remember to go light on the sauce, especially if you have minced meat.

Have with a side of lettuce for better digestion and some hydration.



Fish is a great meal choice because it is light, easy to digest and full of nutrition. Grill for best results and leave the skin on.

If you need a nutrition boost go for fish with high Omega 3s – Salmon or mackerel.

Pair with potato mash (sweet or regular) and remember a side of dark leafy greens.



Soup is so easy to digest and you can just heat and go, great for when you are busy or on the move.

Add in some chicken for protein or barley for extra texture and a great carb bonus and dunk in some warm wholemeal bread or toast.


One-pots are great if you are away from home for an event. Cook up and store in individual serves in the fridge to have whenever you need to. Be sure to go for super healthy high carb options and make them with your favourite sauce or gravy.

Carb Base:

  • Potato cubes
  • Lentils
  • Chick peas
  • Beans (especially Adzuki Beans)
  • Barley
  • Quinoa


  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Root vegetables
  • Dried herbs or spices
  • Stock

For one pots you are best to cook your brown rice or pasta separately as per normal and stir through after your one pot has completed cooking to avoid overcooking and mashing your ingredients.

Desserts and snacks


Forget rice cream in a can. Make your own with cooked brown rice and homemade custard made from skim or soy milk

Add a topping

Peeled stewed fruit

  • Banana
  • apple
  • Peach
  • Pear

These are some incredibly easy recipes for carb loading that will help ensure you have enough energy in the tank to complete your next big event!