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Words Laura Potter. Photograph iStock

If you’ve ever taken part in an endurance event, you’ll be only too aware of the worry of ‘hitting the wall’. And while we previously thought it was all in the mind, new research suggests that it’s actually in the gut.

US researchers looked at energy expenditure during some of the world’s most gruelling sporting events. They found no matter the activity, humans could only burn calories at 2.5 times their resting metabolic rate. Beyond that, the body started to break down its own tissues to make up for the calorie deicit. Meaning the dreaded wall is more down to your body reaching the point where it can’t process food into fuel, less your pesky brain deciding you’re too tired to go on. Good news, as it’s simple biology that afects everyone – and that can be managed.

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