You may not be riding the Tour de France this year but chances are you have a big event coming up in the next six months. To help you out, here is how to eat like a Tour de France rider.
Of course a well balanced diet is essential so make sure you have a mixed plate, but carbs need to be your biggest draw card, without them (or enough of them) you will find yourself running out of energy when it really counts.
When it comes to selecting those carbs make sure they come from a variety of sources so your body has plenty to work with, so think fruit, wholegrain, chocolate milk and veggies.
Every food contains different properties that give you different benefits. A dull plate means a limited nutritional hit. Your body will be searching for carbs, protein, and fats, so help it out by providing all three. To get a mix of the rest, look for different colours and make your plate as bright as possible.
For example, red foods such as watermelon, pink grapefruit and tomatoes help protect your skin from UV rays. Yellow/orange foods, such as turmeric, sweet potatoes, carrots and yellow pepper help boost the immune system. The greens are loaded with nutrition including iron, calcium and folate so stock up on kale, spinach and broccoli. Dark purple and blue coloured foods like beets, red cabbage, dark sour cherries and berries also help improve muscle strength due to all those healthy antioxidants as well as help maintain good circulation and have anti-inflammatory elements.
3. REAL FOOD
Food is fuel. The quality of your food will greatly affect your performance. Manufactured and refined foods are low quality and contain lots of additives, preservatives and artificial flavours that your body just can’t process. As well as that they are packed with sugar so you won’t get that nice long sustained energy burn you need. Our bodies are designed to process natural foods so make sure everything you eat and drink is as close to the farm as you can get.
Also stick to foods you know and feel good with. Changing your diet just before a big ride will cause your body to stress. Make your dietary changes gradual and look for those long-term goals.
4. CONSUME CALORIES
Tapering off your training shouldn’t mean you taper your meal size.
Our bodies continue to work on recovery, healing and growth from exercise a week (or even two weeks) after. So while you might be having a quieter week, your body is still running on last week’s training regime.
And don’t fret about any extra kilos, any weight you gain will be quickly lost in the hard days ahead.
One of the elements your body will look to consume (and will be burning on your ride) is fat. Particularly good fat and the best fat is omega-3.
The highest sources of omega-3 fatty acids lie in salmon and tuna but also consider flaxseeds (ground) and flaxseed oil as well as rocket. As well as feeling satisfied at meal time, omega-3 will assist in recovery time as well as overall good health. Look to have these fishy foods as part of your regular diet two or three times a week.
Simple foods not to be overlooked
Want some real power? It may come from unexpected places, like the humble cucumber. The inside is full of Vitamin C and caffeic acid while the dark skin is loaded with magnesium and potassium. These are the base elements for the connective tissue in your tendons, ligaments, muscles and bones.
Another easy to overlook but essential one is papaya. As well as Vitamin A papaya also helps with digestion.
Add both to salads or eat as a snack where you can.
If dairy isn’t one of your stomach’s best friends look to the soy option. Soy and soy products (like tofu) help prevent muscle degradation during a big event, they are also rich in antioxidants and help increase body mass.
Last, but not least is tea. Black or green tea is a great way to hydrate without the sugar fix as well as helping your post ride recovery due to it’s ability to lessen delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Drink plenty of tea hot or cold before and after your ride.
You want to eat every three hours or so to keep your blood sugar levels from dipping. Once you finish your ride eat within 20 minutes of getting off the bike to keep a sustained and steady level of sugar through your system. This is especially important if you are riding hard consistently for several days or more. If your body thinks it’s hungry it will dive into your energy stores when you are off the bike, instead of saving those valuable resources for when you actually need them. Chicken, turkey or yogurt with some kind of carbs is a perfect snack to keep your body busy between meals.
Eat like a Tour de France rider and enjoy the added energy on long rides? That’s freedom!