Nutrition is much more than just a “marginal gain” in any type of endurance sport. In regards to cycling and the energy requirements needed before racing and on the bike, including recovery needs off the bike, there are few events that can match the Tour de France or other Grand Tours where cyclists cover up to 230km each day, every day for 3 weeks.
Where to start? What to eat? Let’s highlight the most consumed foods to benefit the nutritional needs of pro-cyclists…
This delicious, versatile food staple contains 250% of daily vitamin A (antioxidants and great for eyesight), in addition to:
✓ Vitamin C (for the immune system)
✓ Potassium (for blood pressure and blood cell efficiency – stops cramps and makes heart work effectively ),
✓ Iron (red blood cells, immune system white blood cells – mega important for cyclists),
✓ Manganese and copper (for healthy muscle function).
Within this category, porridge is definitely King!
✓ Oats are inexpensive
✓ A great slow-releasing energy source
✓ Keeps you full for a good few hours
Porridge is incredibly versatile – you can pretty much add anything to it for a delicious, satiating meal.
Try berries, nuts, coconut, dates, cocoa nibs etc. as delicious toppings!
Many believe pasta can be detrimental to some diets due to the ‘amount’ of carbs it contains – however, for a cyclist, it is the perfect meal!
Whole grain pasta is a nutritious, delicious carbohydrate source for replenishing your glycogen stores. This will significantly benefit your performance rates whilst training and on race days.
This energy source also packs in Vitamin B to regulate a healthy heart!
No diet can go wrong with a bunch of natural, nutrient-dense and low calorie vegetables.
Vegetables are delicious, versatile and a signficant health-boosters! The fresher the better – either way, cramming a ton of veg into your training diet will provide the body with a hefty amount of vitamins and provide a natural source of energy.
In addition, thanks to the high content in beta-carotene and vitamin C, they will help reduce muscle soreness after training!
✓ Strawberries are packed with Vitamin C – a great immune system booster! They are also high in folic acid, beneficial for producing and maintaining new cells in the body.
✓ Blueberries are powerful antioxidants that can aid muscle soreness – especially DOMS! (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)
✓ Blackberries, Raspberries – again, a delicious natural energy source of which contain 8g of fibre in one single cup.
✓ Cranberries – a delicious, natural pro-biotic beneficial for producing healthy bacteria and particularly useful in aiding digestion.
All-in-all, a powerful group of antioxidants!
Canned beans?! Surely there are other foods tastier and more creative…
Nope! Beans have a great nutritional profile, specifically sporting a good ratio of carbohydrates to protein. Vegans and vegetarian athletes favour beans for the natural energy source in addition to the muscle-recovering, satiating protein boost.
The definite highlight of this food is the content of folate and vitamin B (for heart health and circulation).
One of the most simple super-foods!
Oranges provide a large dose of vitamin C for recovery (help with muscle soreness) in addition to being a delicious, natural energy source! Other nutrients include:
✓ Vitamin A
With 500 mg of potassium per banana is an excellent food to replenish salts and electrolytes lost through sweat, which also can even prevent painful muscle cramps.
Did I mention that they are incredibly versatile and delicious? Eat them alone or slice over cereal, blend in a pre-training/post-training smoothie, enjoy with peanut butter or even freeze and make “ice-cream!”
One of the most popular and versatile staple foods, packed with complete protein and healthy fats. Just one medium-sized egg contains around a mere 65 calories, 6g protein, less than 1g carbs and 4g of healthy fats to promote hormone balance.
Eggs also contain:
✓ Vitamin K (for healthy bones)
✓ Choline (good for the brain/memory)
Try: Poached, scrambled, boiled for snacks, omelettes or use in protein pancakes!
An excellent source of lean protein – 31g protein in 100g chicken!
Chicken is an extremely popular staple food of many diets – whether your an endurance athlete, bodybuilder, dancer etc – all of our bodies need good sources of protein to support muscle growth, weight loss, lean muscle mass etc!
Also, chicken contains selenium, a trace mineral that helps protect the muscle from free radicals that can occur during exercise.
Salmon is a source of high quality protein and omega 3 fats essential for anti-inflammatory system/breathing efficiency.
Many people steer away from this type of fish due to the ‘high fat content’ – however, the fatty acids in salmon help promote hormone balance, in addition to aiding eye health, cardiovascular health and skin and hair health. Salmon is also packed with:
✓ Vitamin D
✓ Vitamin A
✓ Some of the Vitamin B family
✓ Minerals: Calcium, Iron,
Protein shakes are always useful, either to help muscle recovery after training or as a snack.
Myprotein’s Impact Whey Protein is a rich source of whey protein concentrate with excellent amino acid profile perfect to strengthen and repair muscle tissue.
You also have 60 flavours to choose from! Drink alone as a pre-workout, enjoy with carbs (maybe a banana) post-workout, or get creative – use whey protein in cakes, pancakes, protein bites or mixed with a bit of water/milk for a tasty ‘pudding.’
One of the favourite foods of the group!
Dark chocolate is not only delicious, but it is packed with potent antioxidants called flavonols that can boost heart health.
Sweet cravings can also be dealt with by breaking off a couple of squares of this tasty treat – it is definitely better to stick to 75%+ Dark chocolate.
Almonds are packed with antioxidants and vitamin E (good for healing).
✓ Lower bad cholesterol
✓ Aid good brain function – almonds contain L-carnitine and riboflavin, favourable for better brain health.
An excellent food for cyclists because due to the high protein content, calcium and anti-inflammatory powers.
Yoghurt is a quick and simple snack that can be added to breakfast cereals, smoothies or eaten alone as a snack.
Try adding fruit, nuts, or cocoa for an extra tasty treat, whilst boosting nutritional value!