This Is What You Have To Eat To Compete In the Tour De France

Described as one of the most grueling endurance events on earth, the Tour de France is as nutritionally challenging as it is physical. With riders spending up to 6 hours a day on the bike, with minimal time for recovery and just 2 days of rest over the entire event, feeding the world’s greatest riders is no easy feat. To fuel the journey, riders need to consume an average of 5,000+ calories per stage over 21 stages, with 5½ hours of cycling daily. Maintaining such a huge energy intake is challenging. It’s not, however, just the calories. Suppression of appetite and meal fatigue due to eating the same food every day for weeks also has to be managed. Gastrointestinal problems can occur, especially during the latter part of the race, which means sports nutrition products and food must be selected carefully and tailored to the individual rider. A typical breakfast for the riders includes sourdough pancakes, omelets, steamed rice, eggs and avocados, fresh juice and coffee. Then comes the pre-race snack at around 10:30 a.m., which includes rice cakes with honey, raisin bread, sports bars, bananas, and fresh juice. During the race, around noon, riders get quick-to-consume gels, small rolls with jam, rice cakes, and energy bars. Around 5 p.m., when the stage ends, recovery begins. Riders are given protein shakes to help with re-hydration. Once the riders shower and change clothes, they’re given a small meal prepared by the team chef — pasta salad, wraps and sandwiches, and rice. Finally, at 8 p.m., the riders enjoy their dinner, which typically includes a meal beginning with a salad, soup or juice, followed by meat and fish and carbohydrate-rich foods. Guzzling 5,000 calories a day might sound blissful, but the reality of consuming such huge quantities of food day in and day out for 3 weeks presents a big challenge for the riders. Recovery involves three parts: carbohydrates, protein and fluid. A cyclist’s body needs carbohydrates to replenish depleted glycogen stores, high-quality protein for repairing the damaged muscle tissue, and fluid plus electrolytes for effective re-hydration.