New age eating is taking nutrition further, and while some ingredients may challenge you, the results could be sweet. Try these five tips to ensure you’re fueling properly for your ride.
1. Remember the three Ts
“We have a philosophy at Team Sky based around the three Ts – Timing, Type and Total,” explains Dr James Morton, head of nutrition. “There’s little benefit to consuming the right food, in the right amount but at the wrong time. One of the biggest changes to the pro’s plate is around the types of foods they’re consuming now.
2: Consider swapping out dairy
Intolerance issues coupled with the fact that many of milk’s nutrients – vitamins A, K2 and omega-3 fatty acids – are found in the fat content (removed to create skimmed versions) has led to a shift. Mark Cavendish is one of a number of riders opting for plant-based versions such as almond or soy milk because dairy leaves him feeling ‘phelgmy’.
3: Sweeten with agave
Professional riders are also turning to syrup, made from agave nectar, to sweeten drinks and meals like porridge. “It’s one and half times sweeter than sugar, so less is needed to sweeten foods,” explains Dr Morton.
4: Add quinoa to your diet
Derided as a culinary certificate of middle-classness, quinoa has become commonplace on the cyclist’s breakfast, dinner plate or both. “It’s a very versatile food with almost twice as much protein in it as similar grains,” explains Georgia Bellas, nutritionist at Fresh Fitness Food and TeamGB advisor. “It works as breakfast cereal or as a substitute for pasta.” Chefs and riders at the Tinkoff pro team rate chia seeds for added flavour and protein in omelettes.
5: Eat foods that are high in branched-chain amino acids
“Branched-chain amino acids [BCAAs] are the amino acids your muscles can use most readily,” explains sports nutritionist Emma Barraclough. They’re found in food, especially meat, dairy products and legumes. For years body builders have used them as fast-acting muscle repair supplements but now cyclists are tapping into their recovery qualities, adding them to post-ride drinks.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine