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EnergyFirst, Vitamins & Food Supplements, Manhattan Beach, CA
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Beat the bonk with carbs

Carbs have become a dirty word for those trying to shed extra pounds. The ever-popular Atkins diet restricts carbs severely, and most fad diets and eating-behavior-modification regimes days limit carbs in some way.

But here’s a big of heresy for the anti-carb crowd: if you’re a serious fitness buff or athlete and your workouts or last longer than a 60-90 minutes, you NEED a certain amount of the right kinds of carbs at the right time.

If you don’t get the carbs you need when you’re working out or racing, you could end up like Chris Legh, an Australian triathlete. Even if you don’t remember his name, you probably remember seeing his complete physical melt-down a stone’s throw away from the finish line of the 1997 Ironman World Triathlon Championships.

One minute he was running easily, the next minute he looked like a puppet who’d had his strings cut. The change was so dramatic that Gatorade used it in commercials.

“You can do all the training in the world, but if you go out too fast, or if you make a mistake with your nutrition, then your day is done,” Mr. Legh said.

“The bonk is not a lot of fun,” he added. “Sometimes it catches you before you know it.”

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So what happened to Chris Legh? Well, actually, it’s what didn’t happen earlier in the race. He didn’t take in enough fluid so he got dehydrated, and he didn’t consume enough calories from carbs, so his blood sugar levels plummeted.

When this happens, people typically feel as if their energy source has been abruptly disconnected. What’s happened is that some combination of your blood sugar, fluid, and electrolyte levels have dropped below the critical threshold needed for vigorous activity.

The athletic name for this is “bonking.” In the marathon, it is known as “hitting the wall”, and was assumed to be the natural result of the body transitioning from burning glycogen to burning fat.

Nowadays we know that you don’t have to hit the wall or bonk, provided that you stay hydrated and keep your blood sugar and electrolytes up.

“Taking in glucose during exercise will help offset muscle glycogen depletion,” said Monique Ryan, the author of “Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes” and a registered dietitian. “Studies have shown if you start doing it earlier on, you can prolong exercise.”

Ready-to-eat glucose is available in many forms: Gu, PowerGel, HammerGel, and others. These are 100 to 200 calorie packets of gooey carbs that taste great. They come in easy-to-carry soft-sided packets with tear-off tops so that you can squeeze the gel into your mouth.

Depending on your bodyweight and how hard you’re working, you will need 1-2 gels for every hour of activity. Start eating them after you’ve been going for an hour, and be prepared to fine-tune your calorie consumption.

Practice with eating gels on the run during training—never try anything new in a race. Get a feel for how much gel you need for each hour of activity, and what flavors you like.

Another way to beat the bonk is by keeping your electrolyte and fluid levels up. Drink at least 16-20 ounces of water and sports drink every hour—more if it’s hot outside—and take electrolyte capsules if your workout or race exceeds an hour.

Gerry Morton, CEO of EnergyFirst, has these suggestions for avoiding a bonk:

  1. Before your workout or race, eat a small amount of complex carbohydrates, or a single Gu.
  2. During the workout or race, consume gels or Gu, drink water and sports drink, and take electrolyte capsules if necessary.
  3. Afterwards, consume an EnergyFirst protein shake within 15 minutes, and have a meal high in complex carbs and protein within 2 hours.

Once you learn how to eat on the run, you’ll never have to fear the dreaded bonk again.


Our Story

Our Story

EnergyFirst, a leading company in the all-natural protein and supplement industry, was founded in 1997. We, at EnergyFirst, believe that everyone can benefit from drinking a protein shake whether the goal is optimal nutrition in a meal replacement, an easy and healthy breakfast alternative, a weight loss aid, or a protein supplement for athletes. We also believe that your protein shake should be 100% natural and delicious. Nutritionist, educator, athlete, and EnergyFirst's CEO, Gerry Morton is committed to providing customers with all natural, science-based, effective products for optimal nutrition, weight loss, and a healthy lifestyle.

100% Satisfaction Guarantee

If for any reason you are dissatisfied with your purchase, simply return the unused portion for a full refund." Learn More

Gerry Morton,
President & CEO

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