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burn baby burn: a newbie takes on fat-loading

i’ve carbo-loaded before.  a three-day focus on building up my carbohydrates stores in advance of marathons has worked well for me – and truth be told i like gobbling down all of those muffins, breads, pastas and sports drinks.  it’s kind of a treat.

but this is a first.

i’m fat-loading.

after having read several articles about this recently highlighted approach to distance event competition preparation (some in favour – like here, here and here – and some not so much – like here and here), i decided to give it a go in advance of the waterloo marathon on apr. 26. 
given that i’m a hack at everything i do, i thought that it would be best to consult somebody who is (a) experienced in fat-loading, (b) a high-level athlete and (c) well-studied in sport sciences.  so without a second thought i reached out to my friend stan ong for advice.


gracious as ever, stan was quick to say that he was glad that i’d asked, and then probed just a bit to find out how to best craft a fat-loading plan that would meet my specific needs (including finding out what a typical meal would look like for me, my current weight and foods that i won’t/can’t eat).  factoring in all of this info, stan came back with an outline of a daily menu that i could riff off of and use to map out the week’s grocery store trip.

if you’ve followed along with my blogventures then you know that i can’t leave well enough alone – i like to tinker.  the beauty with this outline that stan’s provided is that it has some flex to it – he even makes concessions for the occasional ‘carb craving’, allowing for a piece of toast or fruit here and there.  with that in mind, i was keen to launch into this new dimension of race readying.

A photo posted by patrick voo (@pbfvoo) on

i’m now a day and a half into it, and so far i’ve noticed a few things:

  1. stan provided advanced warning that fats don’t provide that ‘full up’ feeling like carbs do – and i admit to feeling noticeably hungrier after each meal yesterday and today.
  2. so far it looks like fats lead to less weight gain than carbs – maybe because carbs trigger greater water retention.
  3. it’s already painful to stare at the loaves of bread and bags of potatoes on my kitchen countertop.

but i will see this thing through – and trust that there will be a pay-off come race day in terms of efficiently metabolizing fat as fuel, and staving off the vaunted ‘wall’.

fat fingers crossed!

One comment

  • Intersting article. What next, Patrick? Do you still eat 65% carbs the last 3 days before the race and the ability to store fat is a B source once glycogen is gone? Or do you actually run the race on fat?

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