Food Friday – Guilty pleasures with a healthy twist
We all know those moments when you desperately need some comfort food: guilty pl...
The team is aware of the effect of nutrition on performance, especially during a race like the Giro d’Italia. The two keywords in our nutrition plan are energy and recovery in order to deliver topnotch performances. In this Food Friday, we literally give you a sneak peek in our kitchen and you will discover the menu of Primož Roglič during a mountain stage.
The day is kick started with a breakfast focused on consuming carbohydrates to make sure our riders are fueled up with energy before the race. Our breakfast typically has a low amount of fat, protein and fiber as we want to serve our riders a light meal in the morning. A light breakfast is convenient, because you want your body to use its energy for the ride to come rather than to digest your breakfast. Besides, if your breakfast isn’t digested by the time you start riding, you have the risk of running into stomach/intestine issues.
"A good example of a light breakfast is rice porridge."
Our riders have to consume 90 grams of carbohydrates per hour during the race, preferably not at once. Nancy van der Burg: “That is why we offer our riders bits and pieces of 30 grams of carbohydrates per 20 minutes, such as a banana, a Vifit Energy Gel or a Vifit Energy Bar.”
It is a well-accepted rule to consume carbohydrates after one hour of cycling. At the beginning of a race, our riders are provided with high-carbohydrate foods, but later on we move on to fluids such as isotonic sport drinks and energy gels. “Our riders have a higher heart rate and start to become tired towards the end of a race. At those moments, fluids are just more convenient,” says our dietician Nancy van der Burg.
Taking care of rehydration is important as well. The standard rule that we apply is to drink a bottle of 500ml per hour.
The recovery meal plan starts directly after the race. We focus on providing food with high levels of carbohydrates and protein, and our riders have to rehydrate. A rider like Roglič consumes a recovery shake (protein/carbs) and some cherry juice (antioxidants against muscle damage) as soon as possible after the finish.
Once in the team bus, we offer all our riders the first recovery meal, such as some pasta salad with chicken breast and vegetables. Later on, our riders get a second recovery meal, such as wraps with rice and tuna.
"It is important that we invite our riders to eat by serving a tasty meal."
Dinner is served back in the hotel as soon as everyone has taken a shower and is freshened up. The key nutrition consists of carbohydrates and protein, just as with the recovery meals. There are some vegetables, but we try to keep it to a minimum level during mountain stages due to the high level of fiber. Fiber has the risk of constipation and bloating, meaning potential (temporary) weight gain and stomach/intestine issues.
Although we do limit the risks of potential weight gain, there is a desert on the menu. A rider like Roglič burns 6.000 to 8.000 calories a day, which is compensated in multiple meals.
Burning 6.000 to 8.000 calories is probably not a situation you can compare yourself with, but there are some things you can learn from our riders. Here are a few tips and tricks:
Another tip is to use the Vifit Sport products at home. Our riders use them a lot, because they contain a convenient level of carbohydrates and protein. For example, the Vifit Energy Bar has exactly 30 grams of carbohydrates. In the Netherlands, you can buy those products at grocery store Jumbo together with your weekly groceries.