Photos: Matt Grayson
It’s no secret that the right fuel provides the energy you need to finish a race, enjoy your sport, or simply just focus on the day’s tasks. Quality fuel, therefore, provides an athlete with the tools to succeed and greatly improves the unison between their mindset, recovery and movement.
Human Powered Health athletes were helped in striking this balance during their recent Algarve training camp thanks to Boston-based food innovators Chew. The company was on hand in Portugal, supplying top-class chefs to provide a high-performance nutrition plan throughout the camp during breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Attending were Lucas Sousa, an R&D chef with over 15 years of experience, Marissa Bunnewith, a registered dietitian and pastry chef who designed the nutritional program, director of innovation Tess Cavalieri, and founder/CEO Adam Melonas.
“Attending camp was the ultimate experience,” says Melonas. “We were able to watch the riders in their habitat, interact with each other, get ready for the season, and observe how they fuel their bodies in detail. Interacting with the riders at all key fueling occasions helps us understand where we can improve their lives and performance by making healthful food-based solutions easy to achieve, both on and off the bike”.
With any athlete’s nutrition being vital to their performance, having a consistent source of quality food was a game changer for the program.
“Sports nutrition is almost the opposite of how a restaurant/hotel would cook,” explains team nutritionist Mathias Fluit. “Getting the nutrition right is important so doing this the way Chew did, is the way.
Fluit goes on to describe specific details as to why it is particularly important for an athlete to be able to choose the composition of their dishes themselves.
“It is essential that the rice is not prepared with oil and the chicken with as little fat as possible,” Fluit says of two small examples. “This way an athlete can respond as well as possible to their needs for that day. So, protein is protein, fat is fat, and carbohydrate is mainly carbohydrate and there are no hidden foodstuffs in the preparation of those food groups.”
The Chew team also learned just how cyclists are during their camp experience.
“We learned that riders are limited on the foods they can typically eat off the bike while traveling, and are usually consuming just chicken and rice,” explains Melonas. “Considering these athletes are eating triple more calories than a regular person, ensuring the food has psychological enjoyment in addition to physical calories can be the difference between underfueling at meals and adequately recovering for the next day.”
As well as meals. Chew also supplied the athletes with innovative superfoods such as zucchini bread, power smoothies, and energy beet shots enhanced with Guaraná, a naturally occurring source of caffeine.
With cyclists on average having to consume 5000 to 8000 kcal per day, fueling can often turn into a laborious, unhealthy task where carb and calorie counts outnumber any sort of enjoyment with food. This is why the interesting, tasty alternatives served by Chew can also have a huge impact on an athlete’s mindset.
“As a coach, I don't want the riders to worry about anything else but training at a training camp,” added team trainer Jelmer Nutjen. “Nutrition is key, especially when training hard and the quality of hotel food can often be unpredictable. Having Chew with us at the camp making sure the riders get first-class meals, was vital for their recovery, and with that, their training.”
The long term benefits of quality food are a key pillar to how professional athletes stay at the top of their game through a hard season. This reliable and consistent form of nutrition plays an important role in an athlete’s performance going into the first block of races.
“You don't make gains overnight, you have to do it over time” concurs Fluit. “Eating the right products at the right time will improve recovery and will make your recovery from training (both in refueling and post-fueling) more effective.”
To prove the point, Fluit concludes with a simple fact on the importance of getting even just the basics of nutrition right.
“If you would gain 10% more recovery from every training session by getting the correct nutrition at the right moment, you can improve a lot over time.”
Human Powered Health will have a chance to show the nutrition gains they made during training in their January-closing races. The men’s team has 5 back-to-back days on the Balearic isle of Mallorca with the women’s team Down Under aiming to retain Henrietta Christie’s UCI youth leaders jersey at the Cadel Evan Great Ocean Road Race. The rest of the women’s squad will race the Almeria one day before we close out January by welcoming in a block in the Middle East at the men’s Saudi Tour.
For more information on Chew, visit: http://www.chewinnovation.com/