It may enter your head how nice it must be for a Tour de France rider to be able to eat so much food?! Imagine all those calories you can consume withour getting fat? Well this may not be as enjoyable as you think. When you spend the majority of the day on the bike and once finished likely to feel sick from the effort it’s not that easy to get the calories you need to perform in so easliy. It takes practice to be able to fuel correctly and is one of the most highly talked about, practiced and reasearched thing in the pro peloton.
What if you are eating too much, eating too less, eating the wrong stuff. To some degreeall riders will vary in what they need to take on. Some riders will burn more than others, some will need more food, some less, so one meal plan wont work for every rider. You will find some riders prefer ‘real‘ food whereas others will prefer the specifically made foods from nutrition brands such as bars and gels. It all depends on the individual really. Open up a race food bag and you will find a variety of things in there, from cakes to energy bars and of course, banana’s!
First things first
Wake up to a a nice fresh coffee and a zesty orange juice.
A substantial bowl of Porridge with raisans or toast and jam. Eggs are also a popular choice for topping up essential proteins. Eggs can be eaten so many ways so are hard to get bored of! Scrambled, Poached, boiled, omlette and lightly fried.
Before the start of the race
The riders will snack on Carbohydrate Bars or flapjack cereal bars washed down with electrolyte drinks to help replenish salts and minerals from the day before.
During the race
Depending on what’s happening in the race this can vary quite a lot. The higher the intensity the more the riders will lean towards gels as solids are very difficult to eat if attacks are happening and the pace is high. Keeping sugar levels high at this point is essential. As a rule 2-3 units of carbohydrates are needed to keep the stored as a optimum level so , 500ml bottle a bar and a gel would be a suitable option. Essentially a rider needs around 60-90 grams of carbs per hour in order to maintain consistent energy levels.
After the race
Recovery shakes with high protein: carb content to replenish the carbohydrates lost and start the recovery of torn muscles is needed in the first 20 minutes of finishing. Consuming within this window helps to repair the muscles quicker and is much more beneficial. Not haribo! But after all we did say everone was different!
A three course meal will be presented for the riders. Starting with salads and pastas. The main will generally be a high carb, high protein, low in fat meals, such a fish, chicken, turkey with rice and pastas to help replenish and repair the muscle damage from the days riding. Fruit deserts and fruit pies are often quite welcomed.
Milk, yogurts or protein shakes are most likely to be consumed before sleep to increase the chance of repairing the muscles as much as possible.
Of course Tour de France riders are at the extreme end of the spectrum when talking about fuelling. If you are interested in getting your diet right then we have a specific blog to help you identify what you may need.