Join Date: Jul 2011
What a Tour rider puts in his stomach
This is a picture of what the average Tour de France rider eats in just one day of the Tour. I've always been amazed at the amount of calories these guys eat, and yet they still manage to lose weight during the Tour, not gain. The Tour is the ultimate in endurance races and it has my highest respect and level of interest. I watch the entire 3+ weeks
race every year.
Not to look down upon the marathoner or the Iron Man competition, but this endurance sport is basically every single day, with just a few rests day during the event.
What a Tour rider puts in his stomach
July 14, 2011 00:07:00
Michael Barry Special to the Star
Although cyclists are thin and have as little as 4 per cent body fat, we are constantly eating.
To meet the energy requirements of the races we consume massive quantities of food. In an effort to recover from the race for the next day the eating continues.
But, the significant caloric intake doesn’t mean we aren’t cautious about what goes into our mouths. The quality of the food and hydration is as important as the quantity.
In a Grand Tour a rider’s priorities are to race, eat and rest.
A 160-pound Tour de France cyclist like Ryder Hesjedal, will consume roughly 4,000 calories during an average (180 km or 4.5 hours) stage.
As the Tour riders enter the Pyrenees this week and then the Alps next, their workload, and therefore their caloric consumption, will increase significantly.
On a hard mountain stage a rider will burn more than 6,000 calories in the race alone. Throughout the day, he’ll likely burn close to 10,000 calories.
His resting metabolic rate — the amount of energy it takes to sit and do nothing all day — is 1,500 calories while the rest will be consumed by racing recovering and moving throughout the day.
While racing, we try to eat roughly 300 calories in energy bars, small sandwiches, tarts or energy gels every hour. Before the race we load our pockets with food and then midway through the race, in a designated feed-zone, we’ll grab a bag, or mussette, full of food and drinks from the team staff who are standing at the roadside.
If we burn through it all, the team car, which drives behind the peloton, also has food and fluid for us. Throughout the race, the domestiques will drop back to the car to fetch bottles and food for their teammates.
We’ll drink a bottle of water or electrolyte-rich energy drink every half hour. If we don’t consume enough fuel we’ll run low on energy and eventually become hypoglycemic — a horrible state where blood sugar is too low and the body no longer functions properly. Equally detrimental is dehydration.
Most teams have nutritionists who plan the menus. The dense nutritious meals are rich in protein, vitamins and carbohydrates.
For breakfast we’ll eat a bowl of oatmeal with nuts and banana puree, homemade wholegrain bread, and an omelette. We’ll wash it all down with a smoothie and a shot or two of espresso.
During the drive to the start we’ll drink a litre of diluted juice, and then as soon as we climb on the bus after the stage we’ll drink a protein shake and eat a bowl of hot rice.
At night, an appetizer of vegetables and cheese will precede a main course of whole grain and meat. The desserts are healthy as well: a fruit crisp, yogurt, or chopped fruit. With dinner we’ll drink fresh pressed vegetable juice and water.
And, when the caloric expenditure is at a peak, we’ll sip on a protein-rich drink before bed.
A chef travels with most teams to ensure the food is prepared properly as hotel food can vary in quality. To simplify the chef’s life and to guarantee a sanitary environment, several teams have custom-built high-tech mobile kitchens with dining rooms.
As our power-to-weight is a determining factor in how fast we ride, cyclists monitor their weight closely. After waking, the team doctor will weigh the riders and test their hydration, as rapid weight loss or gain is detrimental to performance.
After the race we will be weighed again. There is a fine line between lean and too lean. If weight dips too low, power is lost. With experience each rider learns what his optimal weight is to perform.
Towards the end of a three-week race, a rider will begin to lose his appetite. Although the race leaves us hungry, the process of eating to fuel becomes tiresome.
Near the end of a Tour, I begin to dream of a relaxed barbecue in the garden with my family.
Think of food as fuel for the body instead of feeding emotions
Last edited by VitoVino; 03-14-2012 at 01:14 AM.