German road racing pro Trixi Worrack knows her stuff when it comes to nutrition.
The former National Road Race Champion has been part of the winning World Time Trial team for the last four years and also won the Women’s Amgen Tour of California during the season just gone.
Not only has she repeatedly fuelled herself to success, she’s also trained in the discipline – studying courses around basic human dietary needs as well as more specialist sports nutrition.
We caught up with the 34-year-old Canyon//SRAM rider to get her advice on what we should eat, and get a little insight into the diet of the pros many of us wish to emulate…
"One year I tried to be really light and I was not that powerful any more. Now I know I have a limit as to what I can weigh."
TWC: Do you follow any specific guidelines, or have any you would suggest others adhere to?
Trixi Worrack: I believe there are no guiding principles. For me it’s always personal – and about how you feel with various different foods. Some professional cyclists will eat more meat and feel good on that diet, some don’t eat bread and feel good about it – it’s all about how you feel. You can’t put ten girls in one bucket and say ‘you just eat this’ and expect everyone to feel good and full of energy.
Personally, I eat a lot of meat and vegetables - but [when on training camps or with the team for a race] I look at the girls eating around the table and they’re all eating differently. Some like lots of fruit, but I rarely eat that much – I don’t feel I need it.
It’s best to try things – find out what works for you, don’t listen to someone who says ‘don’t eat this or this, just this’ – you need to try, and you’ll feel it.
"When on Tour [a stage race], it’s hard to eat the calories that you need. You might need an extra 2,000 calories on top of your normal diet. But you need it."
Do you change your diet when you are upping intensity or duration of training?
I don’t eat differently, just more. In the first week of my off-season break, after the season finished, I still ate a lot as my body was still burning. Then the second week I already felt ‘oh, I’m not that hungry any more.’ As soon as I started training I had to eat much more.
Is it ever hard to maintain weight when riding a lot of miles?
When on Tour [a stage race], it’s hard to eat the calories that you need. You might need an extra 2,000 calories on top of your normal diet. But you need it. It’s possible to lose weight, but not more than two kilos, otherwise you are hungry which is not good
Do you find it hard to balance being a competitive weight, with eating enough to fuel yourself?
One year I tried to be really light and I was not that powerful any more. Now I know I have a limit as to what I can weigh. If you are too light – and how light is too light will depend on the rider – you’ll find you get sick [getting colds and flu easily]. Last season I was around 49kg [Trixi is around 1.6 metres tall] and if I’m under this, I get sick. So I know what I can weigh and I try to stick with this.
How would you advise amateur riders trying to reach the best weight?
If you race or train a lot, don’t try to lose too many kilos in a short time. It’s always important to lose weight gradually especially when you race. If you don’t eat enough, you don’t recover.
Do you have a recovery drink after every ride?
I don’t. Some riders do choose to – even after a 90 minute ride – they feel better with it. But it’s not necessary. After a longer ride – four to five hours - you should have one.
What do you have to recover after a race, or really hard ride?
Immediately after, we always have a Coke – to put back the sugar. Within 30 minutes we’ll always have a recovery drink - a mix of carbohydrates and protein. Sometimes we have recovery drinks before bed too, when on Tour.
What do you eat before a ride and on the bike?
For breakfast, I might have a bread roll with egg and cheese. Some other girls like museli and banana – I don’t really like sweet things.
On the ride, I always take food from breakfast [at the hotel]! Like cheese and egg, whilst some other riders might have a banana or an apple. I don’t eat bars or anything in training, I just want something salty. When racing, I eat gels as bars are hard to chew.