Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday "Bonk" Training

God knows this is a hard time of the year to keep fit. We are inundated with holiday parties, gift baskets and baked goods at the office and at home. Its also a colder time of year making going outdoors to exercise less inviting. Fortunately, there is a simple way to help keep us from gaining too much weight during these trying, but fun, times. Exercise before breakfast.

An article in Wednesday's New York Times entitled "The Benefits of Exercise Before Breakfast" discussed a study that shows that exercising in the morning, before eating, seems to significantly lessen the ill effects of all this excessive holiday eating. The study seems to indicate that by running or biking intensely before eating or drinking exercise drinks helps to keep us from putting on as many holiday pounds or becoming more insulin resistant.

I found a comment from a reader who referred to the weight loss benefits of “exercising in a fasted state”as “bonk training”. The commenter mentioned a September 2002 Bicycling magazine article that outlined the following "Bonk Training" workout:

1. Upon waking, drink 2-3 cups of coffee, up to 45 minutes before cycling. Don’t eat.
2. Ride at endurance pace- 60-70% of your max heart rate, or a casual pace that doesn’t make you pant when you talk.
3. Keep it up for 20-90 minutes.
4. You can do this on consecutive days, but mix in at least one normal breakfast per week.
5. Eat your typical breakfast as soon as the ride ends.
6 . Watch the blubber ignite!!

I don't usually eat much before a run anyway, but I've always been told to eat before a ride to avoid the bonk. I guess that's flipped on its head for shorter sessions. I don't think I could stomach 2 to 3 cups of coffee before a ride, but one cup along with only water in my water bottle is something I could handle. I don't think I would do this on a very long run or ride, but I can see it on a short to intermediate workout. I think I'll give this a try. Just to try to keep off those extra holiday pounds.


  1. I don't eat much prior to working out in the morning either as it is usually 4am when I wake so not much of an appetite then, but I do eat when I get home and it is a normal breakfast.

    Lately I have changed that to be just fruit when I get home and I actually feel better b/c I don't feel bloated. I am getting my proteins in b/c I drink a bottle of HoneyMilk and so recovery goes smoothly.

  2. Thanks for sharing this, very interesting. I don't eat at all before morning runs and I eat during the first five minutes on the trainer (1 piece sprouted grain toast). I always drink an espresso and some water before. I suffer at the end of the run, but I feel better having gone out and run on empty. After reading this I am going to keep it up!

  3. Interesting, I have read about this alot, it seems it is used for more of cutting the fat and less about athletic performance, I have also read that if you try intervals, you run into the risk of cabalising your muscles because of your fasted state, I not 100% sure how I feel about it.

  4. I think that's why its recommended for workouts of around an hour. I wouldn't do this for longer workouts.