My Daily Diet
One of the most popular questions I get asked as an athlete is related to my diet. Whether I eat a special one, sticking to specific foods and is it strict. By now you should already know the answer, but I thought it might be of interest to give you an example of all that I eat in a day. As an athlete my calorie expenditure is much higher than an average person, and as my body has more muscle, it also has more protein requirement. It is something I struggled to get my head around for a long time at the start of my cycling career, understanding just how much I needed to eat and that eating the right food and plenty of it will not make me fat or put on weight. Now I’m far more comfortable with the quantity I eat and no longer get worried if people make passing comments.
I get up around 7.30 most mornings and immediately get breakfast. This consists of porridge, made with semi-skimmed milk. I also add a handful of frozen berries to it and sprinkle over some linseeds, sometimes called flax seeds. These are a good source of the essential fatty acid omega-3, as well as containing a little bit of protein and a good variety of vitamins and minerals. To increase the protein content of this meal further, I stir through a scoop of vanilla whey protein. This also helps to thicken the porridge, add flavour and disguise the taste of milk. I don’t like milk. The only reason I use it is for the good quality protein it contains. My personal preference would be to make it with coconut or almond milk instead, but the protein content in these are not as high. While I make my porridge, I also drink an actimel, to provide my gut with plenty of good bacteria to keep it healthy and to strengthen my immune system. With my porridge I drink a glass of grapefruit juice and a cup of coffee. There is a belief that grapefruit helps to speed up your metabolism, I’m not sure if this is truem but I find the bitter taste refreshing and helps wake me up. The caffeine from the coffee, which I drink black, also helps wake me up and get me going, ready for my morning training session. After breakfast and before I train, I will make sure I drink a 500ml bottle of water with an electrolyte tablet. This helps to ensure that I am fully hydrated ready for my day ahead.
My morning training session will generally be a bike one. Most likely on the static trainer at home. It will last for 90-120 minutes and may or may not include some specific efforts, depending on what we are trying to achieve. During this I will eat a carbohydrate based snack, such as a Nakd bar, to keep my muscles fuelled for the whole ride and drink plenty of water to maintain my hydration levels. Once completed I will eat a bowl of Arla natural yogurt. This yogurt has been strained and so is lower in fat, but also still has a high protein content. It is important to eat a protein based snack post training so that it can be used to help the muscles recover and repair any damage caused by training. 150g of greek yogurt contains around 15g protein and I will flavour it with a little honey, or peanut butter.
Lunch generally needs to be something quick and easy to digest, as well as being portable, as I will eat it on route to my afternoon training session, which could be a gym session over at the velodrome. It usually consists of a wholemeal wrap filled with hummus, chicken, mixed salad leaves and cucumber. I will then end with a banana and if I have been organised enough, drink a cup of herbal tea, which I will have made in my go-cup.
After my gym session, which takes around an hour, I will drink a whey protein shake and eat an apple. To maximise the body’s uptake of protein it is best to always have it alongside some carbohydrate as well, which is why I have the apple.
When I get home from training, I’m usually pretty tired and so need a caffeine fix. I will drink another black coffee, so long as it is before 17.00, otherwise I will drink a herbal tea and accompany it with a small snack. This will usually be a cereal bar or a handful of mixed nuts and dried fruit. I have signed up to Graze, a subscription service that sends out 4 different healthy and handy sized portions of snacks each week, which is perfect for this time of day. This helps to provide variety and keep it interesting.
Dinner consists of one protein source, be it chicken, turkey, beef or fish, one carbohydrate source such as pasta or rice and then a minimum of 3 vegetables. I try to mix it up regularly so that I don’t get bored and ensure I get a good variety. I will drink a large glass of sparkling water and then finish on a piece of fruit. I never feel like I have finished a meal properly unless I end on something sweet. To stop me from craving chocolate or cake I make sure I just have fruit instead, which also adds in extra vitamins and minerals. Dinner is the meal that contains most variety in my day. I tend to stick to a routine for breakfast and lunch, as I know it will fuel me properly for my training sessions, while also being easily digested and not sitting around in my stomach, interfereing with my training. I have to be careful what I eat before and during my training sessions, as I haven’t got the best of stomachs and am known for feeling and being sick during or post efforts if I’m not careful.
After dinner i tend to chill out for the evening and watch tv on the sofa with Neil. We will have an evening snack before bed with a cup of herbal tea. If I’m in a particularly big strength block, then I will ensure that this is another good protein source such as more greek yogurt. But sometimes it will just be chocolate instead. I tend to try and listen to my body and give it what it wants. I need to make sure what I have will make me feel full, happy and content, so that I have a good night sleep ready for the next day of training.
So there you have it. My average diet for a training day. I’m assuming there is nothing in there that you find particularly surprising, but please feel free to post any questions in the comments below if you have any.
Thank you for reading and speak soon.