To ‘bonk’ in cycling, essentially means you’ve hit the wall, pushed yourself too far without eating enough to replace the energy used. Now you know what it is, how do you go about avoiding it?
We’ve asked a nutritionist from SiS, leaders in endurance nutrition, to give you the low down on how to stave off the bonk.
Nutrition and hydration around cycling is important so that you feel comfortable and are well fuelled when in the saddle. Depending on the time of day you are planning to ride, it’s a good idea to eat a well-balanced meal around two hours in advance so that you can properly digest the food and utilise its energy.
You should also take on fluids pre and post ride to replace water lost as sweat. Whether heading out on the hottest or coldest day of the year, adequate hydration is essential.
If you are heading our for a long or hard ride, you will need to start thinking about taking on additional fluids and energy sources during activity as the energy stores from your meal will have depleted. Energy bars and gels are great for this and can be stored in a jersey pocket or saddlebag, but tucking them into your jersey will make them easier to access on the move.
For commutes or rides that are less than one hour a bottle filled with water or a low calorie hydration tablet will be fine. However, for rides longer than one hour it is worth taking a couple of bottles; one filled with water - or with an added electrolyte tab to make it a little more exciting and also helping to replace salts that are lost through sweat, and the other filled with a carbohydrate drink to help fuel your muscles.
Try to get into the habit of eating or drinking regularly to avoid 'bonking' - which in basic terms is when there is nothing left in the tank and your legs turn to jelly. We recommend that you practise eating and drinking on the move (best done on quiet roads); make sure that you can do this almost subconsciously so that you can concentrate on the road and other riders around you.
Recovery is an area that is often overlooked but is as important as what you eat during the ride. It can mean the difference between waking up with sore muscles and heading out feeling fresh.
Stretching is also key when warming down post-ride so that your muscles don’t feel tight in the morning. A recovery drink like SiS REGO Rapid Recovery should ideally follow rides, within 30 minutes of finishing exercise to deliver protein to your muscles and promote repair. Rather than opting for a large bowl of chips as your post-ride meal, go for foods that are high in protein and also contain some carbohydrates.
Find out more about SiS and their the range of endurance nutrition including SiS GO Isotonic gels, SiS GO Energy Bars, SiS GO Hydro and SiS REGO Rapid Recovery by visiting their website.