• Rock Climbing Training: Building a Better Climber: Part 7
  • Rock Climbing Training: Building a Better Climber: Part 6
  • Rock Climbing Training: Building a Better Climber: Final Part
  • Rock Climbing Training: Building a Better Climber: Part 5
  • Rock Climbing Training: Building a Better Climber: Part 4
  • Rock Climbing Training: Building a Better Climber: Part 3
  • Rock Climbing Training: Building a Better Climber: Part 2
  • Rock Climbing Training: Building a Better Climber: Part 1
  • Rock Climbing Training: Gain Confidence by Learning Not to Fear Falling
  • Rock Climbing Training: The Unnatural Way to Climb
  • Rock Climbing Training: Get Better When You Are Scared and Pumped
  • Rock Climbing Training: Never Get Pumped Again
  • Rock Climbing Training: Should You Add Weight or Use Smaller Holds on a Hangboard
  • Rock Climbing Training: Pushing Past Your Training Plateau
  • Rock Climbing Training: How to Power Train for Climbing
  • Rock Climbing Training: How to Mentally Train
  • Rock Climbing Training: Boost Power With Eccentric Training
  • Rock Climbing Training: Tips for Better Onsighting
  • Rock Climbing Training: Should You Lose Weight or Get Stronger?
  • Rock Climbing Training: Is Protein Important?
  • Rock Climbing Training: Getting Strong After a Layoff
  • Rock Climbing Training: Does Running or Biking Improve Your Climbing?
  • Rock Climbing Training: Training While Hungry
  • Rock Climbing Training: HowTo Use Microcycles
  • Rock Climbing Training: Improving Slab Technique
  • Rock Climbing Training: How to Unlock a Crux
  • Rock Climbing Training: Using Your Hangboard the Right Way
  • Rock Climbing Training: Using a Weight Belt For Training
  • Rock Climbing Training: Training During Pregnancy
  • Rock Climbing Training: Maximizing a Small Home Wall
  • Rock Climbing Training: How to Stay Psyched
  • Rock Climbing Training: How to Prevent Bonking
  • Rock Climbing Training: Best Ratio of Resting to Bouldering
  • Rock Climbing Training: The Importance of Finger Strength
  • Rock Climbing Training: Regaining Confidence After a Fall
  • Rock Climbing Training: Overcome Anxiety and Send!
  • Rock Climbing Training: Maximum Training in Minimum Time
  • Rock Climbing Training: Dynamic vs. Static Stretching
  • Rock Climbing Training: Do Forearm Trainers Work?
  • Rock Climbing Training: Ultimate Strength
  • Rock Climbing Training: The Secrets of Warming Up
  • Rock Climbing Training: Periodized Training For the Year-round Approach
  • Rock Climbing Training: Resting the Perfect Amount
  • Rock Climbing Training: How To Recover On Route
  • Rock Climbing Training: Does Creatine Work?
  • Rock Climbing Training: Recovery Supplement Truths
  • Rock Climbing Training: Euro Training Secrets
  • Rock Climbing Training: Can Old Guys Get Stronger?
  • Rock Climbing Training: Training With an Injury
  • Rock Climbing Training: How to Beat Fear
  • Rock Climbing Training: How Often Should You Rest?
  • Rock Climbing Training: Warming Up Without Warm-Ups
  • Rock Climbing Training: How to Develop Sloper Strength
  • Rock Climbing Training: Beating the Lactic Acid Pump
  • Video Spotlight
    Red River Gorge - Spring 2012
    Red River Gorge - Spring 2012

    Rock Climbing Training: How to Prevent Bonking

    02-Feb-2010
    By

    Eating small meals helps keep my energy level up but I'm drained by 4 p.m., while large meals keep me satisfied but sluggish. What are some of the best foods to eat at the crag to feel energized throughout the day?

    —Amy Snyder | Blacksburg, Virginia

    It is easy to be led astray by the hype surrounding the latest energy bar or drink, or to copy the strategy of a climber who cranks harder than you, but when it comes to nutrition at the crag there really is no better expert than yourself. For example, I have a high metabolism and need plenty of treats to get through a long day. In spite of what everyone knows about highs and lows from sugary foods, I simply can't face a day without a few chocolate bars. However, this could be disastrous for some and I know plenty of climbers who have to stick religiously to the rules. If you crave sugary foods but respond badly to them, go for things like fruit or nuts. Generally, it is best if your intake of carbohydrates comes mainly from cereal bars, high-quality energy bars, nuts and foods that are low in simple sugars but high in complex carbs. Foods such as bread, rice or pasta, consumed in small quantities every hour or two, will provide a steady release of energy. Many people find that white bread and pasta can make them feel bloated and sluggish and most understand this to be caused by the high glycemic index [See G. I. Yo! No. 167 for an explanation of glycemic index] associated with foods that are high in refined flour. Go for whole-grain products, or rice, which has a lower overall GI.

    Though you are doing the right thing by snacking rather than eating a large meal in the middle of the day, I suspect that an intake of high GI foods could be responsible for your 4 p.m. fizzle. That said, another likely cause could be partial dehydration. Few of us consume sufficient water at the crag and it is vital to sip at regular intervals. If you use energy drinks, go for the products that offer only complex sugars, or better, try recovery drinks that consist of a mix of protein and carbohydrates.

    Most of the information on sports nutrition is geared for activities where you need to sustain intense bursts of energy for no more than an hour or two. Crag climbing is fundamentally different in that you need to maintain a steady level for an entire day, with a few short bursts when you're on the rock.

    A key, related issue (for me at least) is the intake of caffeine. We are told just to have one or two small cups of coffee at the start of the day (too much caffeine can cause dehydration and give you the jitters) but I have found no better way of preparing myself for that final redpoint in the conditions window at the end of the day than a quick hit of caramel cappuccino. Again, this works well for me but others may wreck their chances by too much caffeine at the wrong time. Study and experiment. The tips above will help, but ultimately you must find a formula that works for you.

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