Bonking, hitting the wall, carrying a piano on your back. Regardless of what you call it, every endurance athlete experiences it. The unwanted, sudden, and sometimes extreme fatigue will attest that proper fueling is the key to overcoming and ultimately avoiding this phenomenon. Because endurance activities involve long bouts of exercise, the body must find its preferred source of glucose from stored sources such as liver and muscle glycogen. If these glycogen stores are depleted, the body has limited resources to maintain glucose levels. If levels are not replenished via food or drink containing carbohydrates, the athlete will ultimately enter glycogen depletion, aka hitting the wall.
While there are many options for carbohydrate ingestion during exercise, some sources are superior and possess additional benefits. Cocoa Elite’s new Elite Endurance product is a great example of a natural, quality option to not only avoid bonking, but to also increasing endurance performance. Let’s breakdown the ingredients to see why.
As with all Cocoa Elite products, the Elite Endurance product includes high quality cocoa powder containing a superior dose of cocoa flavanols. In various studies, it has been shown that flavanols found in cocoa benefit the circulatory system**. One study reported that flavanols found in dark chocolate actually decrease the oxygen cost of moderate intensity cycling. In other words, bikers used less oxygen and covered a greater distance in a 2-minute time trial after ingesting the flavanols. Cocoa also contains the antioxidant epicatechin, which is responsible for an increase in the release of nitric oxide (NO) in the blood vessels. This release of NO causes a vasodilatation of the blood vessels, thereby increasing cardiac function and allowing muscles to utilize more circulating blood sugar.
Coconut sugar is a carbohydrate source with multiple benefits. This lower glycemic index (GI) sugar contains inulin (a fiber source) that slows glucose absorption. Consequently, the sugar is digested over a longer period of time. The benefit is a longer, more sustained release of blood glucose. This sugar is also low in fructose. Because fructose is not utilized by muscle and is broken down exclusively in the liver, it is not the preferred source to replete muscle glycogen stores. Coconut sugar also contains 12 B vitamins and 16 of the 20 amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Additionally, the ingestion can decrease muscle breakdown and promote muscle growth and repair of tissue post exercise.
Working in tandem with coconut sugar, cane sugar is another carbohydrate source in the Elite Endurance product. This sugar is sucrose, a moderate GI sugar. Although glucose only has one pathway for absorption that can become maxed out and cause gastrointestinal stress, sucrose contains both glucose and fructose. This combo improves the rate of absorption in the gut, decreasing gastrointestinal stress. Cane sugar has also been shown to prevent decreases in liver glycogen (carbohydrate stores) during exercise. This leads to a decrease in tiredness and fatigue. This rapidly absorbing sugar ultimately helps the body maintain stable glucose levels after ingestion.
Another form of depletion during endurance exercise is electrolyte loss due to sweat. Most endurance products and sports drinks specifically target the electrolyte sodium chloride (NaCl), also known as table salt. However, when an athlete sweats, the depletion of many additional electrolytes and minerals also occurs. Found in naturally occurring crystals, Himalayan salt is a great source of over 80 minerals and elements. While this salt is ~85% NaCl, it contains 15% of other important trace minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and potassium. These minerals create an electrolyte balance and help regulate water levels in the body, leading to improved hydration. In comparison, commercial table salt is chemically cleaned and bleached, stripping it of all its minerals besides NaCl. Some additional benefits of Himalayan salt include maintaining the pH balance in cells and decreasing the occurrence of muscle cramps.
Arctic Blast Flavoring.
Finally, the ingredient that really sets Cocoa Elite’s Elite Endurance product apart from the competition is its natural Arctic Blast flavoring, containing peppermint oil. Not only is peppermint refreshing, studies also show that it can have a positive effect on endurance exercise. A 2013 study demonstrated that supplementing with peppermint oil pre- and post exercise increases lung function, work capacity, and power during exercise. It also increases time to exhaustion by 25%. A 2014 study also showed an increase in lung function with peppermint oil ingestion.
The results of the study showed a 35% increase in functional vital capacity (FVC), a 66% increase in peak inspiratory flow (PIF), and a 65% increase in peak expiratory flow (PEF). In addition, the study illustrated a 36% increase in grip strength, a 7% increase in vertical jump, and a 6% increase in standing long jump. Peppermint is also shown to possess positive digestive, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic effects. Finally, peppermint is a vasodilator of the smooth muscles of the respiratory tract, thus increasing respiratory function.
A perfect combination of ingredients.
The unique combination of the above ingredients gives Cocoa Elite’s Elite Endurance product not only the ability to attenuate glycogen depletion, but additionally the ability to aid in increasing endurance performance and post exercise recovery. I can personally attest to the benefits of the Elite Endurance powder. Using it before and during long runs, I have found I am less fatigued. More importantly, I have the ability to run faster and further with a lower perceived effort. It really is a game changer. As with all Cocoa Elite products, there are no sulfites, citrates, or preservatives. Each ingredient has a specific and important purpose. This product is free of fillers or unneeded ingredients
No bonking, increased performance, and enhanced recovery. Finally, an endurance product that satisfies chocolate hankerings to boot, too!
J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013 Mar 21;10(1):15. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-10-15. The effects of peppermint on exercise performance. Meamarbashi A1, Rajabi A. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23517650
Grassi, D; Short-term administration of dark chocolate is followed by a significant increase in insulin sensitivity and a decrease in blood pressure in healthy persons.; Department of Internal Medicine and Public Health, University of L’Aquila; 2005
Green, D; Effect of exercise training on endothelium-derived nitric oxide function in humans; Schools of Human Movement & Exercise Science Crawley; 2004
Buono, R; Nitric oxide sustains long-term skeletal muscle regeneration by regulating fate of satellite cells via signaling pathways requiring Vangl2 and cyclic GMP; Division of Regenerative Medicine, San Raffaele Scientific Institute; 2011
Nishizawa, M., Hara, T., Miura, T., Fujita, S., Yoshigai, E., Ue, H., Hayashi, Y., Kwon, A.-H., Okumura, T. and Isaka, T. (2011), Supplementation with a Flavanol-rich Lychee Fruit Extract Influences the Inflammatory Status of Young Athletes. Phytother. Res., 25: 1486–1493. doi:10.1002/ptr.3430
Dark chocolate supplementation reduces the oxygen cost of moderate intensity cycling. Rishikesh Kankesh Patel,corresponding author James Brouner, and Owen Spendiff https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4678700/
Heather Wilson is an Elite Track Runner. She became the 60th U.S. woman in history to break the 4:30 barrier in the mile. Heather clocked in with an impressive 4:29.39.
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