Here are 8 nutrition tips for better cycling performance, reportedly from some of the best people in the industry:
1. Choose high-carb, low-fat for more power
‘I recommend a high-carbohydrate, low-fat, vegan diet. It’s going to send your performance through the roof. You should be eating whole plant foods.
‘Make sure you have no oils in the diet, not even a little bit when you’re cooking. Cut that out. Any fats that you have should come from whole foods, and moderate protein from plant sources only.
‘No eggs. No dairy. No meat. Cut all that filth out. Seriously, your power will go through the roof. It really helps my performance, I can really put down the power, put down the watts.’
Peter Sagan, Bora-Hansgrohe
2. Eat little and often
‘The importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle alongside your fitness routine is key to ensuring you’re benefiting from the exercise you’re doing.
‘To get the right balance, focus always on the quality of food. We work really hard with the riders to make sure they’re eating plenty of vegetables, fruit, fish, chicken, lean meat and carbohydrate sources.
‘Having more wholegrain foods such as rice, bread and pasta provide riders with vitamins as well as carbs. Also, what we’ve found has a lot of success from a weight-management point of view is when people analyse their meal plans more proactively.
‘If people try to eat little and often rather than just three meals a day, it can be much more effective for weight loss and topping up energy sources.
‘And don’t forget hydration. My suggestion is 500ml of fluid every couple of hours when not exercising.’
Nigel Mitchell, head of nutrition, EF Education First-Drapac
3. Try vegan food for recovery
‘I’m a high-carbohydrate vegan. Being a vegan, I find that my recovery is the best this way, my performance is the best.
‘Don’t worry about the protein. It’s very easy to get enough protein. 75kg is my lean body weight. That means I need 127g of protein per day, which is very achievable.
‘Go vegan, it’s perfect for recovery.’
Andre Greipel, Lotto Soudal
4. Eat more porridge and rice in training
‘Nutrition is massively important if you want to train at your best. On a training day, I’ll have porridge and yoghurt in the morning.
‘During the ride, I might have flapjack bars, rice cakes and maybe a caffeine gel at the end. When I’m finished I will have a protein drink and some rice with fish, then in the evening some salad and soup with pasta and chicken.’
Geraint Thomas, Team Sky
5. Keep your diet light
‘I try to go very light in terms of diet. In the mornings I limit myself to just the one bowl of porridge, and normally a two-egg omelette, with no hint of extras, no second helpings, nothing.
‘If there is a big stage ahead that day, I’ll try a three-egg omelette, but warily, and I’ll mix a small amount of white rice into the porridge.
‘For dessert, I’ll chew a few pieces of fruit or have a pot of yoghurt. I don’t count calories or know the values of most things. I just let my instinct guide me as to what is the right amount to eat.
‘My instinct always says that the right amount is less than I feel like eating. In a previous life, I think my instinct lived in a remote monastery.’
Chris Froome, Team Sky
6. Eat meat? Choose white, not red
‘For dinner I’ll usually have white meat. I do like red meat, like steak, but it takes longer for your body to use it, so it’s not very good for you when you’re training.
‘Instead, I’ll go for chicken or fish and a bit of rice or pasta – but it’s really nowhere near the amount of rice or pasta you’d expect.
‘People assume cyclists have to eat loads of it, but it’s really quite a small portion.’
Mark Cavendish, Dimension Data
7. Do intervals to build fitness and speed
‘If you only have time for shorter sessions, do lots of intervals – like 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off, or 1 minute on, 30 seconds off.
‘Intervals are the key to high-quality training sessions. If you are doing any kind of speed session or interval session, the main thing is doing it fresh.
‘If you’re trying intervals at the end of a long ride, you won’t be at your best. If you do them fresh you will recruit more muscle fibres and the training will be more effective.’
Geraint Thomas, Team Sky
8. Tailor your training to be event-specific
‘Working on your threshold is important for racing because when the shit hits the fan in a race or on a climb, you need to be able to put out a lot of power for a short amount of time, whether it’s 800 watts for 30 seconds or 300 watts for half-an-hour.
‘If you’re just going out and riding for five hours at 200 watts then come race time it’s going to be a shock to the system.
‘It’s all about tailoring your training for the event you ride, whether it’s a WorldTour race or a sportive – it’s all about preparation.’
Alex Dowsett, Katusha-Alpecin