Top athletes around the world train day in and day out to be able to succeed in high-level competitions. To complement their workouts, these athletes also pay attention to their diets as an important component of performance. Since they work out multiple times a day, it’s necessary for them to stay fueled at all times. Having healthy light snacks throughout the day helps to keep you full and energized, which is also what most elite athletes do. However, some of them also keep unconventional diets because of the unique nature of their training regimen. Below, we’ll look at some of the unusual diets and tips that athletes, both in cycling and other sports, have used to succeed and gain that extra edge.
The former British National team cyclist has won 30 Tour de France stages during his career. While fueling up for an endurance sport has become quite a tricky science, he recommends not letting the diet consume you. The ‘Manx Missile’ says eating smart doesn’t necessarily mean following the crowd. What’s more important, he advises, is to listen to your body. A typical cyclist’s breakfast consists of oatmeal, but Cavendish claims that it doesn't work for him. Instead, he usually has rice and an omelet in the morning. Cavendish advocates rice because it’s a very simple carb to digest and contains a lot of fluid. Moreover, it gives a burst of energy to fuel you at the start of each day. This goes against the popular notion that rice is a carb that should be avoided by those in peak fitness.
When it comes to women’s tennis, one name stands above the rest: Serena Williams. While her dedication to the sport is well known, what sports fans may not realize is that she mainly follows a vegan diet. Serena originally went vegan to support her sister Venusafter she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in 2011. Yet the diet clearly worked as she continues to follow it during the tennis season. And it has not had any negative effect on her career. In fact, with 23 Grand Slam titles, Serena is one of the highest paid tennis players of all-time (both male and female), and considered one of the most successful athletes in the world. Her diet during tennis season involves lots of nuts, lentils, beans, and sprouted quinoa.
The 27-year-old is one of the top cyclists in the North American professional circuit, and he achieved this on a diet of home-baked sourdough. In between training for races, Robin Carpenter bakes his own bread. The cyclist proves that you can eat bread on a daily basis and still have podium finishes. In baking his own bread, Carpenter eliminates unnecessary additives like sugar and preservatives, allowing for a more high-carb diet. This helps make him faster and gives him more glycogen stores for long rides.
In ultra running, keeping your performance up means consuming lots of power bars and energy gels while on trails. 25-year-old newbie Clare Gallagher shocked the whole trail running world when she won her first 100-mile race at the Leadville Trail 100 in Colorado. Adding to the shock, was the fact that Gallagher was fueled by frosting and Sour Patch Kids during her run rather than expensive sports gels. The reason for this is that frosting and sweets are simple carbs that can be converted to energy quickly. They also have no fiber, because it has the possibility of wreaking havoc with a runner’s gastrointestinal track during the race. Because of her unusual diet, Gallagher is now sponsored by Frost'd, a coconut oil-based frosting company founded by fellow ultrarunner, Jessica Hamel. Although it may seem like an unhealthy way to fuel yourself, frosting and Sour Patch Kids have made Gallagher one of the fittest people on the planet.
As the above athletes show, finding the correct diet for a sport is much more than zoning in on the exact macronutrients. It is about listening to what your body needs to succeed.
Author: Victoria Bench