The Science Of “Bonking”: Best Guide for Bonking-2023


The Science Of Bonking And Ways To Prevent It On Race Day.

The amount of energy needed from your body is somewhat extreme during an endurance event. A painful but common occurrence on race day is bonking, also known as “hitting the wall,” which happens when your body runs out of both carbohydrates and amino acids. The last thing you want to do on race day is to start tanking, so let’s talk about what bonking is, what the symptoms are, and how to avoid.

What Is Bonking?

Around 4 million people compete in marathons, triathlons, and Ironman events each year, with participation in these events increasing in recent years.
Your body will become extremely exhausted and put under more physical stress during ultra-races, which last between four and six hours on average. An inadequate nutrition plan before the race can put you in a serious energy deficit, cause you to falter before the finish line, and cause you to bonk.

A relatively common occurrence known as “bonking” or “hitting the wall”. Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is what causes you to pass out. A lack of amino acids can also cause what is known as central nervous system fatigue, which makes you want to curl up in a ball and take a nap by the side of the road.

What Causes a Person to Hit a Wall?

Your body depends on a steady supply of glycogen, which it gets from carbohydrates. This is the rationale behind the fast-acting sugar and maltodextrin-based sources of carbohydrates offered at race aid stations, including Gatorade, energy gels, chews, bars, and chews. These can boost your energy and muscle-fueling capacity while extending your time until exhaustion.

Your body can store a limited amount of glycogen in your muscles and liver, ranging between 75 and 100, and 300 and 500 grams, unlike fat reserves. In order to maintain optimal energy levels throughout an ultra-endurance event, you need to consume up to 800 grams of carbohydrates.
The symptoms of bonking, or hitting the proverbial wall, include cramping, mental fogginess, sudden loss of energy, and extreme fatigue when your glycogen stores are depleted. In essence, your body and brain shut down and enter triage.



How To Avoid Bonking and Hitting The Wall?

The best way to avoid bonking is to improve your nutritional regimen. Not only your training but also your diet and supplements play a role in performance. You can’t function at your best if your body isn’t properly fueled.

When it comes to long-distance and endurance training, carbohydrates are the most important. In order to ensure that you are ready to go the next day, carb loading is a popular nutrition strategy. It will aid in the resynthesis of glycogen.In comparison to fat metabolism, carbohydrate metabolism produces more adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP) per volume of oxygen (O2) (as blood glucose and muscle glycogen).

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), Dietitians of Canada (DC), and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) advise that for optimal energy output and glycogen stores, ultra-endurance athletes may require up to 8-12 g/kg/day of carbohydrates. These athletes typically commit to extreme levels of daily activity (4-5 hours of moderate to high intensity exercise every day).

To support long-term endurance exercise, we advise using a fast-absorbing carbohydrate supplement like Clean Carbs. For more energy and better performance, Clean Carbs includes sweet potatoes, yams, oats, and blueberries to help sustain long-term energy and different glucose and insulin release times.
However, research indicates that even after 4 and a half hours of exercise at 70% of their maximum oxygen consumption, endurance athletes can continue to run at 16 km/h for an additional 2 and a half hours at a VO2 max.


Electrolytes are essential for any type of workout for adequate and effective hydration, as well as to prevent bonking. To increase workout volume, postpone muscle fatigue, improve recovery, and prolong endurance activity, you must stay hydrated while working out.

Electrolytes are vitamins and minerals that conduct electrical activity in the body so that you can carry out mechanical actions like muscle contraction and relaxation, which are essential for daily and athletic activities. Performance suffers and perceived exertion declines with just a 1-2 percent decrease in body weight from fluid loss alone.

Between 2 and 6 percent of your body’s water weight can be lost during a typical workout simply through perspiration. More than that can be expected to be lost during an ultra. When electrolytes and water are lost and not replaced, it affects how quickly the body recovers, how well nutrients are delivered, and how much oxygen is available to the muscles.

This results in muscle wasting and ineffective waste removal from the blood stream.
Magnesium, potassium, and salt are examples of electrolytes that can aid in rehydrating. Coconut water is an excellent hydrating ingredient. Coconut water boosts the electrolyte potassium along with a few other nutrients and is naturally low in sugar. Your body’s ability to retain water is crucial during a race, and sodium and electrolytes can help. Your body will practically shut down if you don’t have enough electrolytes.

The dreaded wall will be waiting, your legs will become heavy, and you’ll feel utter exhaustion. If you tend to overconsume salt, you’ll need more sodium than that—between 300 and 600 mg per hour. Ultra-endurance athletes should aim for 450–750 mL per hour for adequate hydration, according to a recent recommendation from the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Essential Amino Acids:

Your body also depends on essential amino acids to keep from running into a wall. Amino acids, frequently referred to as the building blocks of protein, are produced during the metabolism of protein. Nine of the 20 commonly occurring amino acids are regarded as essential and have a variety of functions in human biology. The name “amino acid” refers to the chemical compound formed when an amino group and an acidic carboxyl group combine.

Because your body cannot make essential amino acids, it is “essential” to consume them in your diet or take supplements. Twenty amino acids total, nine of them are classified as essential. The various bodily processes are carried out by each amino acid either singly or in combination. Leucine is one of the branched chain amino acids, which helps to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Tryptophan, on the other hand, is used to make niacin, melatonin, and serotonin, which support sound sleep and a positive mood state.

Tryptophan levels rise as muscle tissue is broken down as a result of your body working harder and harder during intense exercise. Tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes sleep, raises serotonin levels, which causes lethargy, reduces muscle contractions, and lowers motor neuron excitability.

When your body runs out of carbohydrates, you bonk. However, as your body uses more resources when you put more demands on it, you need to give it more fuel to keep up. Electrolytes, water, fat, and protein are among the other substances your body uses in addition to glycogen. .

You might experience an amino acid deficit during intense and protracted endurance exercise, which causes a neurotransmitter imbalance. It is known as muscle catabolism. When there is a severe nutrient shortage, muscle catabolism occurs, where your body uses your muscle mass as fuel. You might additionally experience central nervous system fatigue at this time.

You also need to consume enough b-vitamins, which are the main components of neurotransmitters and are necessary for your nervous system to synthesize amino acids.

You can strengthen your ability to withstand both mental and physical fatigue by consuming essential amino acids every hour while competing. I advise taking INTRA as a supplement. With raw superfoods like pomegranate, spirulina, and tart cherry extract that have been shown to support endurance and recovery, INTRA combines essential amino acids, B-Vitamins, electrolytes from pink Himalayan salt, coconut water, and electrolytes.

Takeaway: Understanding bonking and avoiding it.
One of the most crucial aspects of your workout plan is your diet. You will have much higher and ultimately guaranteed chances of experiencing the bonk if the proper performance nutrition protocol is not in place. More energy, water, and nutrients are required from your body during longer and more intense training sessions.

Making sure your amino acid, electrolyte, and carbohydrate intake is adequate prior to an endurance event will help you avoid bonking. For proper glycogen replenishment, muscle contraction, and preserving a favorable amino acid balance on race day, attention must be paid to amino acids, electrolytes, and carbohydrates.


What Is Bonking And How To Avoid It?

One of the most crucial aspects of your workout plan is your diet. Your chances of bonking will be much higher and ultimately inevitable without the proper performance nutrition protocol in place. Your body needs more fuel, water, and nutrients to keep up with longer, more intense training sessions.

Making sure you consume enough carbs, electrolytes, and amino acids prior to an endurance event will help you avoid bonking. For adequate glycogen replenishment, muscle contraction, and maintaining a positive amino acid balance on race day, attention must be paid to amino acids, electrolytes, and carbohydrates.

Want to Avoid Bonking? Learn the Science Behind It:

When you realize you haven’t eaten enough calories and that getting home or, worse yet, to the finish line will be a slow, agonizing shuffle. However, you can greatly improve your chances of preventing bonking by learning a little more about how it occurs.

Let’s begin by talking about glycogen. The simplest type of carbohydrate, glucose is made up of glucose molecules, or sugar in its purest form. Proglycogen and macroglycogen are the two different types of glycogen particles. Understanding these two types of glycogen particles is crucial because they both affect how quickly new glycogen particles are produced. The macroglycogen are formed from collections of glucose units that build slowly and allow secondary glycogen particle replenishment to occur over a longer period of time.

your most recent bout of exercise.Your muscles store the largest amount of glycogen (300–700g), followed by your liver (80–160g) and brain (100 times fewer glycogen particles than are stored in your muscle cells). The small amount (about 4g) of glucose in your bloodstream is constantly replenished by the liver glycogen particles.

This amount of glycogen is more than enough for a person who spends the majority of the week at rest and does not engage in bouts of short to long, low to high-intensity exercise (that’s not you, endurance athletes!).

Adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, which is produced during muscle contractions. You use this energy to fuel your workouts. The energy that enables cells to function is what it is (at its most fundamental level). You cannot perform without it. It is created by organelles called mitochondria, the energy production centers of your muscle cells. Fatty acids from your bloodstream, intramuscular fat stores, liver-supplied glucose, and glycogen molecules from your muscle cells and between your muscle cells are all converted to ATP through the process of oxidation.

There is general agreement that as exercise intensity rises, so does the reliance on blood and muscle glycogen molecules. In fact, you will discover that as intensity approaches 60 percent of VO2max, glucose in your blood and muscle will become the main fuel source being oxidized through anaerobic and aerobic processes to produce ATP. This is largely because of the muscle cells that are being recruited (i.e. e. Type II) in order to maintain the level of intensity and exercise.

Inadequate levels of muscle glycogen particles, known as bonking, lead to decreased muscle contractions, increased fatigue, and subpar effort. 2 As a result, you must slow down and eventually stop exercising because the mitochondria cannot produce ATP at a rate that allows you to maintain the necessary exercise intensity. How quickly your body runs out of glycogen depends significantly on the length and intensity of the exercise you are doing. The other exercises you performed that day or in the days prior, as well as your overall dietary intake of carbohydrates, will both contribute to bonking.

An athlete will typically complain of fatigue, lack of enjoyment, and difficulty finishing sessions when inadequate amounts of carbohydrates are combined with multiple sessions of moderate to high intensity and prolonged duration. Remember that in a specific session, this can occur both with and without the heaviness of bonking.

Naturally, it’s not the worst thing in the world, and you won’t hurt yourself, but it still stinks in the moment. You won’t lose muscle, you won’t get hurt, and you’ll definitely recover if it’s an isolated incident. But there are some long-term negative effects that can happen if you keep exhibiting these signs and symptoms of fatigue, boredom, and poor performance in your training week after week.

In addition to your training suffering and requiring a decrease in volume and intensity, these include increased muscle protein breakdown, which could lead to a loss of muscle mass. In other words, you won’t be benefiting from your training to the fullest extent that you could or ought to. Additionally, because carbohydrates have immunosuppressive properties, there is a higher risk of illness, particularly upper respiratory chest infections.

3 Another potential performance risk is a decreased capacity to use carbohydrates at higher intensities when they are most needed. 4 This is a reference to the harmful physiological changes that take place when you follow a low-carbohydrate diet for an extended period of time.


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