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Avoiding the bonk


Fresser
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Ladies of eGullet, I'm proud to reveal the secret to my gorgeous gams: hours in the saddle of my trusty steed, the Novara Buzz:

click here

I bought the bike in 2001 to rehabilitate after knee surgery, but I found that cycling is fantastic for controlling blood sugars (I'm diabetic), plus the oxygen-induced high that results from a three-hour ride is something that you MUST experience.

Something I don't recommend that you experience, however, is the bonk, or exercise-induced hypoglycemia. Bonking results when intense aerobic exercise depletes the body's glycogen stores and lowers blood sugar to dangerously low levels. Low blood sugar can lead to dizziness, disorientation, shaking and chest-pounding palpitations. Bonking is severly uncomfortable for cyclists and other distance athletes. For diabetics, it's dangerous.

So even though I ride to burn calories, I always snack before a ride AND I carry snacks such as dried plums, low-sugar energy bars and peanuts in my saddle bag. Watch triathletes in the midst of their rides--you'll often see them munching on bananas to replenish gylcogen stores as well as electrolytes. Personally, I find that foods that are low on the glycemic index work best for me.

Also, I'll plan rides around fruit stands and other places that serve a quick bite of energy. An ice cream stand near me serves no-sugar-added frozen yogurt that's both a cool treat and fuel for my "gas tank," so to speak. Energy bars are marketed heavily to athletes, but check their labels--many of them have over 20 mg of sugar per serving.

I know there are other diabetics in eGulletLand, and probably some of them are bicyclists. What do you like to nosh on mid-ride? And have you completed your first "century" ride yet?

Edited by Jake (log)

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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I am not a cyclist but my kid was semi-pro and my husband still rides all the time. Yeah the whole bonk thing must be really complicated with diabetes. My husband loves the endorphin popping (like champagne bubbles popping) long ass rides--I like him better when he rides too. :laugh: Yah think?!

They would do 12 hour races 24 hour races --like a team of 3 or 4 riders similar to a relay race for runners. Food--geez oh pete the amount of food consumed between laps is more than I would eat in several days.

And the hydration is crucial too.

Some riders are out there eating a fig bar for breakfast & riding all day taking no water along crazy crazy crazy.

We always have energy bars in the house.

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I'm a cyclist but not a diabetic, and I'm curious about that yogurt break. Yogurt without sugar added is fairly low in carbs of all kinds (only a few grams per serving). Your body stores 1500-2000 calories in glycogen, which is 400-500 grams of carbs*. Slapping 7-10 grams from cup of fro-yo in there won't make much of a dent in your chances of bonking. If anything is helping you, it's stopping to eat it.

What you need is starchy stuff with a buffer to keep the glycemic hit from activating your diabetic problem. (At least, from my non-diabetic POV that's what I think; your doctor may throw his clipboard at me.) Or a constant infusion of complex carbs.

This is the first article google returned for "prevent bonking":

http://www.trifuel.com/triathlon/nutrition...aces-000515.php

I'm not saying that's the panacaea, but it's a more detailed (and a little spammy) example of the sort of thing I'm talking about. And since that sort of thing is, in fact, food, and, in fact, a "meal", I see no problem at all getting down with it here. I wouldn't mind a bit if it turns into a discussion of fancy-restaurant attempts to create meals with targeted macronutrient ratios. There's a tiny deli around here called the Fitness Cafe that caters to gym rats and publishes ratios for each item and offers most in different styles (extra protein, low-carb, etc.) I think it's time the better places started paying attention to the fact that not everyone wants to have to write a book on the server's pad to get their chateaubriand accessorized properly for their current training regime.

Man...this sucks... my shoulder's messed up so I don't want to aggravate it on my bike and it's really nice out there today and I come in here and someone's posting bikie stuff on a foodie website... pure torture...

--Blair

* - riding in a pack at a long-race pace is roughly 400 cal/hour; riding solo at time-trial pace will be 1000 cal/hour and up.

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Okay, here's the straight poop. We didn't evolve eating pre-packaged food from Paleo-mart or Cost-aceous.

Our systems evolved to have a wide variety of foods because there are a wide variety of energy storage options that plants and animals have chosen to make.

I have a fair amount of experience as a recreational/commuting cyclist, and as a marathon runner.

Here is a short list of what I have found to work for me to recover from a bonk

Fresh fruit:

apples, oranges, bananas, plums, cherries, pineapple, mangos, peaches, grapefruit

dried fruit:

prunes, apricots, raisins, peaches

Other:

Snickers, anything sweet from Juice Stop, jerky, Popeyes Chicken, beer

Here is what I have found works best to stave off a bonk

PB&J sandwiches, jerky, any sort of dried fruit (with the exception of dried apples, bananas, or pineapple), oatmeal, yogurt, double-servings of fresh fruit, a general high-fiber diet, eating breakfast, eating after exercise (and sometimes during), moderating alcohol intake, drinking 750 ml water or more per hour.

Edit to add: There is a lot of personal trial and error to coming up with these lists, and I urge you to do two things: don't be afraid to experiment, and take any commercial glorp with a skeptical eye. Some of them are very good products (I personally like Gu and Accelerade), but I have found that with a little planning and experimentation, I can perform just as well with less outlay.

Edited by jsolomon (log)

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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What you need is starchy stuff with a buffer to keep the glycemic hit from activating your diabetic problem.  (At least, from my non-diabetic POV that's what I think; your doctor may throw his clipboard at me.)  Or a constant infusion of complex carbs.

That's handy advice, Blair. :smile:

I've found that fibrous foods such as prunes and whole-grain breads make great cycling snacks. These foods are high in carbohydrates but low on the glycemic index, which measures how quickly a food elevates blood sugar.

Contrast these foods with baked potatoes*, which I know some cyclists munch while on the bike. Unfortunately, potatoes are very HIGH on the glycemic index, meaning that the noble spud spikes my blood sugar about as quickly as a Snickers bar.

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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Thanks for answering a related question that I hadnt asked yet....Going on a long "bike" ride with a diabetic in June...of course long is 800 miles and the bike is a Honda. I assume he knows how to prepare for this ride but I wanted to have some stuff for him just in case...I know candy would melt and juice would get warm...but Dried Fruit is perfect

tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

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Bonk has quite a different meaning in other countries........

and as such is something that is rarely avoided-indeed it is often actively pursued  :raz:

Sam's quite right, where I live bonk does indeed have more than one meaning. But we cyclists like to think that we can multi-task. :biggrin:

I cycle a lot, mostly for 2-4 hour rides two or three times a week, plus a number of century and century-plus rides throughout the year (fortunately we can cycle year round here). Eating on a bike is something I've had to learn to do mainly from trial and error. Up to two hours, or say 35-40 miles, I can get away without eating. My legs should have just enough in them and I'll then try and eat as soon as I'm off the bike (I would ideally carry an energy drink like Lucozade Sport). However, even for this short distance it's good insurance to carry a banana or a flapjack. If the ride is any longer, then I'll either have planned to carry food with me or else we'd be looking to have a stop somewhere en route, usually in a caff for tea, cakes or something hot.

I have indeed bonked (on the bike) - when the real thing happens, it's quite horrible: your legs just go completely and though you may be able to turn the pedals, there is no power at all. Quite simply you are out of gas. This is uncomfortable in the extreme, especially if you find yourself miles from anywhere and you have no other way of getting back, save pedalling. Such an experience, for a diabetic, I'm sure, could be very dangerous.

The key I've found is eating regularly, to the clock. I like to have a bite or a nibble of something every hour, on the hour, while on the bike for longer rides. Flapjacks (what we call granola bar type things - the best are homemade) are great long-burning fuel as they are made with oats, honey, dried fruit etc. Quite concentrated, too, so you can have one in your pocket and just pull it out for a munch as you are going.

I'm afraid I'm not at all scientific about this and the good thing is that cyclists - unlike runners and swimmers - can ingest and digest large calorific intakes and continue to exercise (not at highest intensity) without discomfort. That means you don't need to buy the fancy and expensive performance fuels that triathletes for example may need to shell out for. In fact I HATE all cycling/performance specific 'food' such as Powerbars and carbo powders that you mix in your drinks bottle. I have resorted to sucking down a sachet of gel 10 minutes or so before a monster climb or when really desperate and nearly on empty. The result is fast acting but shortlived. On long rides I always carry two water bottles and drink regularly - again the key is to drink before you are thirsty.

I went through a phase of carrying beef jerky and it made a good change, tasty and savoury, but you need to drink lots with it and I'm not sure it was a really great energy source. Trail mix (MMs, salted peanuts, raisins) is good to have on hand. Real food seems best to me especially on long rides. Sandwiches such as egg salad or tuna work for me, while one of the best caff meals round here is tinned baked beans on brown bread toast washed down with mugs of strong tea with milk and sugar. When you are really knackered, it's one of the best meals you can have. Honest!

On a very long ride in France (1200k) I ate regular French cafeteria food, four times a day, and just drank plain water the whole way. The food was good and I consumed it in prodigious quantity, then waddled back on the bike and set off again.

Good luck and enjoy your cycling. It's a beautiful day here and Bank Holiday Monday so I'm looking forward to a ride on to Dartmoor.

Marc

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Bonk has quite a different meaning in other countries........

and as such is something that is rarely avoided-indeed it is often actively pursued  :raz:

Here we call that a "boink." Still, it's not something you'd want to experience on a bike.

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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I just realized I forgot one of my major snacking foods (but not pre- or post-training, generally) that I almost always have available when I am working out at high intensities for long periods of time (i.e. in training for a marathon or the like). GORP. Good Ole Raisins and Peanuts. They truly are a superfuel. I also sub in other nuts and other dried fruits, especially prunes and craisins.

Simple, but effective. And isn't that what we're looking for?

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Bonked on yesterday's cycle, a hilly 55. Wed afternoon is my day for cycling, but I was working hard to make a deadline and had time for only a very quick and insubstantial lunch before meeting the usual wolf pack for our regular ride. This was a massive mistake, as it proved. I was OK for the first section of the ride, but I overcooked it on a steep 2 mile climb (as one does): uh oh, heart rate way too high, should have cut back. But I didn't take note and paid the awful price. And this was only at mile 20! Used up all my glycogen stores on that climb, and soon afterwards legs went to jelly, powerless, awful. From that point on I knew I was in deep trouble and set for an afternoon of pain and suffering as the wolf pack (my mates!) revelled in my discomfort - cycling is nothing if not a wolf eat wolf activity and I would have done the same. I wasn't carrying any food, no not even a banana, not a flapjack, not a Nutrigrain bar. I also ran out of drink and dehydrated badly. Made it to seaside town, glugged down two water bottles full of water from the public toilets (no, not the toilet itself but from the basin). Didn't have any money for provisions and in any case the wolves wanted to keep going, relentlessly yapping and howling and piling on the pain. Limped up final hill at record sloth pace, finally made it home, and set about devouring the house. Straight to the cupboards, straight to fridge, cramming flapjackets, biscuits, nuts, anything I could get my hands on, into my mouth as fast I could - would have eaten a table leg let alone a leg of mutton - meanwhile glugging water as if I'd been lost in a desert for weeks or months.

This, I know from sad experience, is the classic and genuine full-monty bonk: I had conveniently forgotten quite how horrid it is, and I fervently hope not to repeat the experience again soon, if ever (though I know I will). Of course I should have followed my own advice above, carried grub, eaten on the hour, had two water bottles, etc etc. But there we are, these things happen. And when they do, the wolves are always circling around, and, at the first sniff of blood, ready to go for the jugular, snaffle up the scraps and afterwards howl to the moon in pleasure and ecstasy.

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This, I know from sad experience, is the classic and genuine full-monty bonk: I had conveniently forgotten quite how horrid it is, and I fervently hope not to repeat the experience again soon, if ever (though I know I will).

When you bonk, do you get the shakes and chest-pounding palpitations? Honestly, I hope not.

I knew someone who bonked on mile 85 of a century ride. She didn't know her name or what day it was.

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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