As a world champion cyclist preparing to compete at Tour de Yorkshire next weekend and then Rio 2016 later in the summer, Lizzie Armitstead requires more calories than the average person: “I probably have about 4,000 calories a day,” she says, “but it’s important in cycling to carry as little weight as possible, so we have to eat carefully.”
I always make sure that I have lunch and dinner prepared, especially if I’m travelling...
“I’m a vegetarian, which is quite unusual for someone at my level of sport,” says the Yorkshire-born athlete who gave up red meat and poultry when she was just ten years old, “so I use protein and iron supplements and I never skip a meal.”
Prepare in advance
Preparation is key to staying healthy Lizzie says: “I always make sure that I have lunch and dinner prepared, especially if I’m travelling as I find that food I buy out can be sickly and make me feel bloated. It’s easy to make a salad or a wrap or some healthy flapjacks.”
Lizzie, who resides and trains in Monaco kick-starts her day with what she describes as a protein porridge, which consists of oats mixed with protein powder and topped with berries and bananas.
The 27-year-old has lunch after her morning training, which is typically an omelette and salad, then her evening meal will consist of fish and vegetables. She opts for healthy snacks such as Greek yoghurt, which is packed with probiotics and protein and apples, which offer high soluble fibre and antioxidants.
Understanding what your body needs
While Lizzie describes herself as vegetarian she says she makes an exception for fish: “I suppose it has quite a different taste to meat and I think it’s important for my diet that I try to include it.”
Muscles use carbohydrates as fuel during exercise, so making sure her body has what it needs to perform, Lizzie ramps up her food intake prior to competing, pointing out: “I have more carbohydrates in the days running up to competitions because there are benefits for my joints and muscles.”
When it comes to exercise other than cycling Lizzie says: “I spend five hours a day on the bike, so I don’t do any other cross training, but I do a generic core stability session every day.” Acknowledging that she’s someone who can’t sit still she adds: “I tried yoga but it’s not for me – it’s too slow-paced.”
It’s ok to treat yourself
A girl after our own hearts, while she’s disciplined about her diet and has seen a nutritionist in the past, Lizzie does have some food weaknesses like the rest of us – namely cheesecake: “I can’t resist it!” she says emphatically.
Lizzie will compete in the Asda Women's Tour de Yorkshire race on Saturday 30th April. Find out more at letour.yorkshire.com.
Find healthy food for you and your family at Asda groceries.