Running shoes

One of my favourite authors wrote a whole book on bonking; however, she was referring to a different type of bonking then what I’ll be talking about today. Sorry to disappoint! Bonking in the sporting world is when an athlete ‘hits the wall’ or becomes exhausted and exhaustion can happen in endurance events lasting over 2 hours when the body has depleted all its carbohydrate reserves. Here’s how to prevent bonking:

Surprise, surprise carbohydrate and fat are used for energy (not protein) in athletes and the use of carbohydrate vs fat varies depending on:

  • Duration of exercise – at the start of exercise carbohydrates are used
  • Intensity of exercise – the higher the intensity, the greater the use of carbohydrate
  • And fitness of the individual – fit individuals will use more fat as energy

So, what can you do with this information? Well, warm up slowly to give your body the chance to start using fat as energy, carbohydrates are more important for intensely-trained athletes than for recreational athletes and getting fit is a good thing!!

Marathons, triathlons and other competitive events are just around the corner so here’s what you need to know about carbohydrate loading for events:

  • Activity – hard bout of exercise 7 days pre-event to deplete glycogen stores (how carbohydrates are stored in your muscles and liver). Once depleted it is easier for newly consumed carbohydrates to be stored.
  • Pre-exercise carbohydrate – 1 - 4 hours before an event (restore glycogen levels from overnight fast); controversy re: eating in the hour, so don’t do it!
  • During exercise/event - >0.6 g/kg body weight (solid, liquid or gel) if it’s a long event or the athlete hasn’t carb-loaded
  • After exercise for multiple daily training sessions – 1-1.5 g/kg within the first 30 min and then every two hours

Otherwise, everyday eating for exercise and health should include 6 g of carbohydrate for each kg of body weight and if you’re doing extreme endurance training then you need 10 g of carbohydrate for each kg of body weight.

Good luck in your event!! And any questions please feel free to post a comment below.

Image courtesy of Pete