runDisney: Tips For Carb-Load at Walt Disney World

Carb-loading, runners talk about it, but how many actually know how it should be done? What seems like a great excuse for a pizza and pasta party on the sports teams of our youth, needs to be delved into a little further as adults heading out for a Disney Half Marathon and beyond. We've got a few great tips to get the most out of your Walt Disney World pre-race carb-load.


runDisney: Tips To Carb-Load at Walt Disney WorldrunDisney: Tips To Carb-Load at Walt Disney World


The idea of carb-loading is more than gorging yourself on pasta the night before a race, in fact, that can be one of the worst things you could do. Building the glycogen stores in your muscles takes more than a few hours, so if you want to avoid hitting a wall, plan on increasing your carbohydrate intake for 2-3 days prior to a race.

That being said - don't just increase your glycogen stores by eating more, you want to combine responsibly sized meals with the taper in your training plan to boost the available energy in your muscles.

Protein is also important for our bodies to function at their optimum. Be sure to combine your carbs with small servings of low-fat proteins like eggs, yogurt, turkey or chicken.

Stay clear of high fat foods, such as cheese, butter and oils; as well as high fiber fruits like those where you eat the peel. They don't offer your body much benefit during a race, and can even send you running for the port-potty.


The Arancini from Via NapoliThe Arancini from Via Napoli
Spaghetti And Meatballs at Tutto ItaliaSpaghetti And Meatballs at Tutto Italia


Consider eating your largest meal during dinner two days before your race. Here are some example to follow if your race is Sunday morning.

  • Friday night should be a big meal that is high in carbs and moderate in protein. This is when your big "blow out" should go down. For me, this is pizza and pasta night at Via Napoli or Tutto Italia in Epcot's Italy Pavilion

  • Saturday you will continue to increase your carbohydrates, enjoy a table service breakfast with lots of pancakes and potatoes, as well as small portions of proteins. Make sure you get a well solid, filling meal in before noon. A late breakfast reservation or brunch at one of Disney's many buffets, or restaurants with an 'all-you-care-to-eat' option is the way I go. My two favorite spots are Cape May Cafe at Disney's Beach Club Resort, and the Whispering Canyon Cafe at Disney's Wilderness Lodge.

  • Saturday night is really your last chance to get in the benefit from your carb-loading but don't over do the size of your meal, eat light. Since you'll be headed to bead early, you should plan on eating about 2 hours before you sleep. I like Asian for this meal with its high-carb, but easy on your stomach bowls of rice, and clean proteins. Head to Morimoto Asia in Disney Springs, or California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort for some amazing pacific rim flavors.



Iron Chef Morimoto Oversees Opening NightMorimoto Asia Sushi Bar
Chilled Sesame Lo MeinMorimoto Asia Chilled Sesame Lo Mein


Practice makes perfect, so practice what you will be consuming during your training too. The best race rule I know is "nothing new on race day," and that includes the way that you fuel your body. During training, use your long runs to practice your meal plans. Every body reacts a little differently to the food that goes in it, and knowing what you can and can't eat will go a long way during your race.

While I can offer tips for smarter carb-loading, I'm not a professional. If you want to make the most of your pre-race meals be sure to dive into the research on your own, talking to your trainer or nutrition, and be smart.


Mickey Waffles, Biscuits, and GravyMickey Waffles, Biscuits, and Gravy
Bacon, Eggs, Sausage, and PotaoesBacon, Eggs, Sausage, and Potaoes


Thanks to the Disney Food Blog for letting us use their spaghetti picture, it sure looks good. Where do you like to carb-load at Walt Disney World? Leave a comment below and share your favorite pre-race meals.

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