A perfect nutrition plan is not going to turn an average athlete into a Champion, but poor nutrition choices can minimize the full potential of all athletes!
After a long and hard endurance session, the recovery process can be sped up with targeted nutrition measures. Recovery is an important factor; especially if the next training session or competition is due to take place shortly afterwards. Primarily always remember: immediately after the session the right nutrients and sufficient fluid need to be available for the body. However, this in itself is not enough. The meals following this initial one also need to be selected carefully. Nicki Strobel, chef of the Australian cycling team ORICA GreenEDGE shares exciting tips in an interview. In addition, he shares one of his tasty recipes to help refill the empty energy stores.
What are your three top pointers for healthy cooking?
- Buy fresh, high-quality products, preferably organic due to their superior taste.
- Use plenty of herbs! They give dishes a more sophisticated flavour and make a significant contribution to health.
- Cook „smart“! Athletes are often short on time, so a bit of clever planning pays off when it comes to preparing meals. Simply cook larger portions to leave leftovers for the following day, or choose a simple dish that is easy to prepare. After all, especially after training, many people feel too tired to make the effort to cook, and instead make bad nutritional decisions that seem quicker and easier.
What are the main considerations in an “athlete’s kitchen”?
The principles are rather simple. Fatty meals with a high cream or butter content should be cooked rarely. Use high-quality fats such as olive oil in the kitchen. Use a variety of sources of carbohydrates and include a range of grains, not only wheat. Athletes should also be sure to eat only fruit or vegetables that are ripe. Unripe produce is difficult to process and digest.
Do the cyclists of the ORICA GreenEDGE team have a favourite meal for regeneration?
The riders all have different favourite meals. But the team is always happy when I serve something simple like spaghetti bolognese. Some riders especially like my green curry dish. (Note: see the green curry recipe beside).
What is the significance of nutrition for professional cyclists?
On an intense day, a rider can burn through over 6,000 calories on the bike. It‘s extremely important for riders to feed themselves properly. It is becoming more and more popular for pro cycling teams to have their own chef to guarantee high-quality meals.
Nicki, many thanks for the interesting talk and the tasty recipe!
Recipe for Nicki‘s green curry:
AVERAGE NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION PER PORTION:
1.140 kcal (4772 KJ), 91 g Carbohydrate, 44 g Protein, 63 g Fat
INGREDIENTS FOR TWO SERVINGS:
250 g chicken breast cut into strips, 1 small courgette (approx. 200 g, sliced into short strips), 1 red bell pepper (approx. 150 g, sliced into short strips), 1 small aubergine (approx. 200 g, sliced into short strips), 160 g uncooked pasta (e.g. penne rigate), 1 small tin of coconut milk (200 ml), 2 tbsp olive oil, 4 small slices of bread (30 g each, toasted), 1 avocado, 2 small, fresh pineapple rings (approx. 120 g, sliced), salt and pepper.
Green curry paste:
2-3 cloves of garlic (minced), 1-3 green chilli peppers (jalapeños or Thai green chillies, minced), 1 shallot (minced), 1 piece of ginger root the size of a thumb (peeled and sliced into thin strips), 20 g fresh coriander (chopped), 20 g fresh basil (chopped), 1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp ground caraway seeds, 3 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tbsp lime juice, 1 tsp brown sugar, 1 tsp olive oil.
Mix all the ingredients for the green curry (except the olive oil) into a paste. If needed, add a dash of coconut milk. Heat up 1 tsp of olive oil in a pan, add the green curry paste and sauté it gently to allow its optimum flavour to develop. Toss in the sliced bell pepper, aubergine and courgette, pour in the coconut milk and let it simmer.
In a non-stick frying pan, heat up a splash of oil (about 1 tablespoon), briefly brown the chicken breast strips, then mix in the vegetable curry mixture and fry it until cooked through. In the first pan, quickly sauté the pineapple slices and set them aside.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta “al dente” (tender but still firm) following the instructions on the packet.
Mash the flesh of the avocado and season it with around 1 tbsp oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Now spread the mashed avocado mixture onto the toast.
Dish out the cooked pasta into bowls with the finished curry and fried pineapple slices. Serve the avocado on toast as a side.
Hint: If you would rather cut out some calories or do not need quite so much energy, you can skip the avocado on toast. That saves around 500 kcal!
© Corinne Mäder, Senior EU Sport Nutrition Manager PowerBar. International Olympic Committee postgraduate Diploma in Sports Nutrition