With the 2023 Tour de France in the history books, Tour de France fueling is trending. Several people have send me various articles specifically on the subject of what a Tour de France rider consumes and, every single one of these articles focuses on the massive amounts of carbohydrates these athletes are consuming to do their ‘job’ whether they are a GC rider, a climber, sprinter or a domestique.
They need the calories
I am not going to disagree with these articles on the fact they need tons of calories, and I won't even disagree with the need for plenty of carbs at this level of sport. Even though I don’t think they need quite as much, and have my thoughts on the unintended consequences of flogging Humans with what essentially is sugar, this is what is currently driving the level of performance and competition at this level.
Context is KEY in relation to this type of fueling
Instead of context, these articles have the inference that carbs are the only way you can fuel and that you require massive amounts of them to do so, “just like the Pros”. In fact, the trend of late in sports ‘nutrition’ has been to ‘hack’ or ‘hydrogel’ your way to get more external calories including ‘training’ the GI tract to absorb more calories during exercise.
Sadly these articles are missing a key piece of content - a question for you - is your average power over a 5-6 hour ride sitting at 200 watts let alone the 230-250 watts or more a Pro is averaging over a stage? Can you sustain a 400 watt push on a climb, or mash over 1200 watts to the pedals in a sprint or breakaway, time and time again over the course of a stage or a tour?
Just think about cramming all this down your stomach and gut wrenching to digest while trying to ride at a high level - the point here is context matters, and, unless you have the metabolic capacity for pro tour level output, day in and day out for 2-3 weeks, these articles are literally ‘overkill’.
The 1 key take-away for your performance and health
Instead of what is trending and sexy, what is important is ‘cellular’. What those Pros have at the unseen base of their outworldly performance is the metabolic capacity built upon fat metabolism.
In order to burn those metabolic matches over three weeks of racing they have built that capacity on a fat based physiology. The months of winter training you don’t see or hear about, with hours of base building, doing fasted rides, using minimal calories to build that metabolic capacity, to generate and sustain the kind of power levels where consuming lots of calories for competition is warranted.
The carbs are ‘icing on the cake’. Unseen and underneath all those carbs is the fact these guys are not just good fat burners but great fat burners. They cannot sustain that level of effort without a decent fat burning engine that supplement those massive amounts of external carbohydrates.
Even a significant portion of those massive meals of carbs get converted into triglycerides and liver fat and not just glycogen. Just do the math. Build your metabolic capacity up to where you can average 250 watts over 5 hours, and an have an FTP of over 400 watts, while getting your power to weight ratio to where you are carrying 8-12% body fat like a Pro, and only then does the inferred advice add up and makes sense in the context of competition.
These guys have 2-3 times the metabolic capacity of the average cyclist. They can ride for 5-6 hours on little to no calories at the output levels of most serious cyclists, they are also young, fit males that weigh in around 58-68 kilograms (128-150 pounds). And the fact is, testosterone covers up a host of metabolic sins which allows them the latitude to over consume carbs.
The one thing you can take from the Pros is building your metabolic capacity, the unseen aspect of your health and performance that makes all the difference in competition and Life. This is built on a physiology that burns fat, and what we focus on so you can achieve “Higher Health & Peak Performance”. In fact, our Team has worked with Pro Tour Cyclists to help them achieve just that so they not only were able to win stages but make the Podium and feel great doing so.
“Hello I just wanna thank you guys for the work we've done together for my health and the heat acclimatation . For now it works very well. We'll have time to get some feedback later but I'm feeling really good. 4 days to go!
This was from Bardet just 4 days before his 2nd overall finish, and the winner was Chris Froome, and his entire Team Sky were quietly employing fat adaptation strategies to give them that edge under the guidance of the team Doctor, James Morton.
The right foundation to your athletic performance
The point is the foundation of your health and performance are built upon a fat based physiology so you can build the metabolic capacity to perform on carbs when it counts in competition. Build that foundation first and foremost, so you will not only get the full benefit of those “Strategic Carbs” in racing but the robust health for that one ultra-endurance event we’re all signed up for called Life!
And the quickest way to ‘jump start’ building your metabolic capacity is to grab a 12 pack of Vespa to experience what your native performance is all about.
If you are curious about more check out ofm.io to learn more on how you can achieve “Higher Health & Peak Performance”