We get a lot of questions about how PH products fit in with your wider nutrition plan and we thought it would be helpful to take a look at how a professional cyclist fuels their racing.
PH are an Official Partner of Team Sunweb and rider Jan Bakelants has shared his nutrition plan with us.
The one thing that's really interesting is just how much carbohydrate energy he's taking on to fuel his efforts when racing at a high intensity and duration (especially given that a three-hour bike ride is considered an 'easy day' between races in the life of a pro!).
Here's what Jan had to say...
The day before a race is all about carb-loading and we reduce the training volume in the days before the start. Two days out from a race we might ride for three hours and after that I start to increase my carb intake in my meals.
The day before a race I start with a breakfast of 60g of oats with yoghurt, six rice waffles with ham, a fruit salad and a cappuccino (the coffee is a must if I'm racing in Italy!).
For lunch I'll have a risotto and some boiled potatoes, together with other boiled vegetables.
In the afternoon I might eat some Haribo candy and a banana. And then at dinner I will eat a plate of pasta (about 150g in dry weight) and some more potatoes with a small piece of chicken.
On the day of the race I will get up and have my usual race day breakfast; 50g of oats with yoghurt and 100g (dry weight) of rice. There's lots of carbs because we'll need energy!
Depending on the hotel I’m in, I’ll also add some ham or I might ask for an omelette consisting of two yolks and three egg whites. The omelette fills me up and it supplies me with some protein, while the taste also goes well with the rice.
I do miss my own omelettes when I’m at a race though. At home we have our own chickens and the taste of our own eggs is unbeatable!
If there’s space for more after all that, I’ll eat some rice cakes with some jam. I always drink green tea at breakfast. Green tea has proven health benefits and I prefer not to add to the nerves by drinking coffee yet!
Just before the race starts I’ll have a double espresso on the team bus. The caffeine gives me just the right kick to start the race.
Pretty much as soon as we start riding, I start eating.
In the beginning this will be real foods that you need to chew on and get absorbed by your stomach rather slowly. A banana or two is one thing I always have in my back pocket for those first hours.
The soigneurs prepare little jam sandwiches, porridge and rice balls. I’ll always take these foods with me for the early going, mainly because after years as a pro you get tired of the taste of energy bars.
Later in the race I will then switch to bars and only move on to gels in the final stages.
The golden rule is to take in at least 60g of carbs every hour, but my stomach is well-trained and I can get higher than that these days. In those 60g are some sugars, including those from the sports drink in our water bottles.
On hot days I always have PH 1500 to hand in order to keep up with my sweat losses during a six-hour race.
On a side note, I rode in a team with Chris Horner in 2012/13 and he had a quite different approach to in-race fuelling. During the race he only ever wanted to eat Snickers and drink Coca Cola! He would ask the guy that had to stay with him in the race, "hey, can you get a Snickers and a coke for me at the team car?"
When the race is over I’ll have a soft drink, a recovery shake and some rice or some other carb-rich food prepared by the bus driver.
At dinner if I have a choice I’ll tend to have a steak. The long effort I’ve put in during the day needs to be compensated for with the right amount of protein and I love a good steak, especially as it goes well with a glass of red wine (my favourite reward when a race has gone well…).
So, there you have it, the full race-day nutrition plan of a top pro cyclist. Amazing how much Jan packs away and interesting how much is carbohydrate, which really aligns with our own approach to fuelling.
Now all you need is your own chickens and you'll have everything you need to eat like a pro...
Stay tuned for more insights from Team Sunweb!