Just how big is a carbo load meal?
How many calories, and shouldn't you just load the whole taper week anyway? Friend of mine says he eats 2000 kcal almost all in carbs. A pound of pasta is 1600 kcal, I can hardly eat half without puking! He eats a whole pound plus 2 cups of rice, just a little olive oil, salt and pepper, lots of water. Yuck!
Scottish Canuck in the US
Depends on what you are training for. Are you training for endurance events?
I used this site when training for my first century a while back and found it quite useful:
Focus on the future
No, you shouldn't "load the whole taper week anyway". The point of carbohydrate loading is supercompensation. You completely deplete your muscles of glycogen, after which they respond to the "loading" by storing more glycogen than usual, giving you better reserves for long endurance efforts or hard sprints.
It's my impression that most athletes find that the damage done to their training by the depletion phase is not worth the tiny boost in performance due to the supercompensation.
Now, the phrase has been hijacked by people who think that just adding extra pasta for one day before an event is "carbo-loading". I don't think this has been scientifically proven to do anything that just eating a standard moderately high-carbo training diet doesn't do.
So alison basically you're saying we should just eat a diet high in complex carbs during the taper week?
I'm thinking 1/2 or full marathon.
Focus on the future
If you want to carbo-load, then I think you will want to eat a low-carbohydrate diet (one source says roughly 60 g carb/day) for the first three days of your taper, and make sure to work out regularly; then eat a very high-carbohydrate diet for three days and try to minimize protein, etc.
If you want to follow the suggestions of sources like that ultracycling site and the experience of people I know in cycling, then you'd just continue getting sufficient carbo on a moderate-to-high carbo training diet, like the 60/25/15-ish that works for many athletes.
Gorging yourself on pasta for a week before the event shouldn't help you much in either case, if at all, as I understand it.
so whatcha' want?
I don't think you need to "carboload" if you've been training and recovering properly. Here's some useful info on recovery