Well it has certainly been an interesting tour so far, with many of the big names out of the race, including last years winner! Australia now has a rider coming in second place overall, would love to see him win!
I recently posted about the many delicious meal choices provided to the cyclists during the Tour de France whilst they are not riding their bikes. But what about whilst they are actually on the bike?
Whilst on the bike, riders need approximately 800-1200 Cal per hour to get through a stage. One of the key goals is to consume enough carbohydrate whilst on the bike so that as little as possible needs to be made up in meals after the race, these means consuming approximately 90g of carbohydrate each hour. Another is to ensure fast delivery of carbohydrate to the muscles, so that it can be used as fuel. This is where multiple transportable carbohydrates (MTC's) come in. Have a look at your sports drink or your gel, or any other food that is specifically formulated to enhance performance, and most of them will contain a combination of different types of carbohydrate, for example maltodextrin and fructose. Research has shown that when consumed together, the rate of oxidation (or use by the body) is much higher than when consumed alone.
Recent research also shows there may be some benefit to consuming small amounts of protein during some endurance events (such as multi stage/day events, or events longer than marathon distance), to help reduce muscle loss during these events.
So what do Tour de France riders eat whilst on the bike? Some of the goodies found in the bags included a variety of paninis (sandwiches) including ham, chicken or jam, sports bars, sweet or savoury rice bars and cakes. Check out this recipe from FeedZone for some more inspiration!
Remaining hydrated is also key. Consuming a combination of water, sports drinks and coke can provide the fluid, electrolytes, carbohydrate, and some caffeine to help get over the line.
Stay tuned for the next post about caffeine and it's use during sport!
Chloe McLeod is a dietitian at BJC Health. This blog focuses on diet & nutrition generally and diet & nutrition in relation to the treatment of arthritis and arthritis-related diseases. Contact us if you’d like our help in managing diet-related health issues