What you eat is almost as important as how much you train for professional cyclists in this day and age, and the best riders only fill their bodies with the best foods to help them be competitive in the peloton.
For the nutritionists and chefs it’s not as simple as giving every rider the same food, drink and supplements during the season as the energy demands for a domestique will be different to those of a climber or a sprinter.
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While a sprinter like Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quick Step) has to take on enough calories to make it through the day’s stage, he also has to be able to produce enough power when it counts to win the sprint at the end of the day.
A beta-Alanine supplement will help the sprinters stave off acid build-up in the muscles and boost physical performance for short bursts like a bunch sprint, as well as Creatine to maintain muscle mass.
Once Kittel has completed his ride it’s not enough to simply have a protein shake and a bit of a stretch to recover, the process can take up to 24 hours, so placing ideal foods and fluids every two or three hours in your recovery schedule that process is going to speed up.
And the bad news is that even though you’re burning thousands of calories on a long, tough ride, it’s not an excuse to replenish the reserves with a pizza or burger if you’re trying to get to the very top. Professional cyclists still have to count the calories very carefully, but if you just ride for fun then the odd treat won’t do too much harm!