Bonk & Recovery

You are a bicyclist and have been warned about avoiding something called “bonk.” What is it and how do you recover from it?


The term “bonk” is another word used for the medical condition known as hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Depending upon its severity, low blood sugar can cause all kind of havoc on your body and cycling career. It can happen at any time.


According to cycling experts, bonking occurs when the glycogen (the stored version of sugar known as glucose) level in your muscles diminish. When this happens, your body switches gears and burns other fuel sources stored throughout your burn. This fuel is harder to gain access to, so your body has to work much harder to burn it. This is where the problem arises.

A variety of symptoms occur when you are bonking. Common symptoms of bonking include feeling queasy and lightheaded. Dizziness is a common occurrence, along with vision problems ranging from loss of focus to double vision. You may find you lose your sense of balance, have an inability to hold your body in the proper cycling position. When this happens, your body weight more than likely shifts to one side and increases your likelihood of falling off your bike.


A number of gastrointestinal breakdowns occur. Cycling jostles your stomach more than other sports do, leading to a number of symptoms. Your stomach can start to feel like it weighs a ton and a half. It feels bloated, and you hear sloshing going on inside it. The more sloshy you feel, the more likely nausea sets in. We all know what nausea leads to including vomiting and stomach upset.


Your legs will feel extremely heavy, and you find that lifting them takes all your energy, if you can even do that. Moving your body properly is hindered to the point of dysfunction. Muscle cramps result due to sugar being removed from muscle tissues. When muscle cramps occur, in addition to pain, your joint movement becomes hindered.


During your cycling ride, cycling experts recommend you lower your risks of bonk by consuming an hourly carbohydrate that equals your weight in grams multiplied by .7 to 1.25. The exact amount depends upon the difficulty of your riding and any pertinent conditions involved.


Within the first 15 minutes after your event, you can help your body recover by preparing and enjoying a carb/protein snack. Cycling experts recommend you make your post-ride meal a carb consumption that equals your weight in kilograms times 1.5. Add enough protein in grams to be the equivalent of your weight in kilograms times .4. You can recover from cycling bonk by eating lightly during the last 30 minutes of your cycling tour, or course.  recommends adjusting your fueling and hydration strategies for weather conditions. Cooler weather may require less hydration, for instance.


Staying nourished is the key to keeping your body operating at optimal levels and maintaining proper energy levels, both while cycling and throughout the day. Your body is a temple, so treat it accordingly.




  1. says

    Just so you really get the picture, I’ll give a third example; Your toddler walks off with your USB memory stick and then comes back looking very pleased with himself as he has placed it straight into the toilet – Disappointed doesn’t do it justice – I know what this feels like.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *