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Avoid The 'Bonk'

Susan Sly BSc.,
Certified Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant

I was watching 'The Tour' the other night. I suppose, that like many of us, I want Lance Armstrong to win. O.K. so he used to be a triathlete and has had many hardships but let's face it, he works hard and deserves to win. On this particular night Jan Ulrich took over a minute off Armstrong. In the post race interview Lance exclaimed, "I bonked."

    I have given many seminars and have used that term before taking for granted that non-athletes think that 'bonking' is something that is best done behind closed doors. I explain that 'bonking' is simply when your easily accessible fuel stores run out and your energy falls so low that you could put your bike beside the road and have a bigger cry than when watching Oprah on an Angel Network day. They ususally get that.

    The body's easily accessed fuel, carbohydrate, has a limited store. You have to play mathematician to figure out when, exactly, based on intensity, quantity of food consumed, macronutrient breakdown and conversion you might bonk. Don't worry, I will do that for you in this article. Firstly, let's discuss how people get to this point.

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    In lay terms, 'bonking' occurs because people either don't eat or don't eat enough to prevent it. Content of food consumed is also important. Essentially when you consume a high glycemic carbohydrate such as a banana or a gel it will get converted to glucose (the body's most easily used fuel source) very quickly. When you exhaust that and your glycogen stores you feel like dirt. You see, even fat burns in the flame of carbohydrate. To burn fat you need carbs.

    If you consume carbohydrate with some protein or fat it slows down the conversion process to give you longer term energy. Yes, I did say the 'f' word. Some fats are good for you. We can deal with this in another article. Eating protein, carb and fat two hours before an intense workout will give you more energy. During the workout you can consume things like gels or high carb bars which will provide immediate energy. Try it and you will see a huge difference.

    I suggest the following breakfast pre hard workout:

    Susan's Smoothie

    1 banana (carb)
    1 cup of frozen berries (carb)
    1 scoop of protein powder (protein)
    1 cup of milk or soy milk (protein and carb and fat)
    Ice (freebie - eat as much as you want!)
    Water (see ice)
    2-3 tablespoons of full fat yogurt (fat, pro, carb)

Blend and eat. It will contain about 400 kcal. If you want to lower the calories take out the yogurt. This is slow release energy and no it won't get converted to fat. I have used this smoothie with Dallas Star's center Kirk Muller and he loves it.

    Now get out there and don't bonk. You never know when I might be cycling or running near you and I definitely don't plan to see anyone who has read this crying beside the road.
Susan Sly is an elite athlete and certified lifestyle and weight management consultant. She has worked with professional and recreational athletes.

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