Food & Nutrition: Understanding the Diets of Competing Athletes in the Tour De France
The Tour De France is not just a test of speed and endurance, but also a challenge of nutrition and fuel consumption. Competing athletes must undertake arduous stages while ensuring they have the proper nutrients to maintain their energy levels and aid recovery. This article delves into the carefully calibrated diets and nutrition strategies of athletes competing in the notorious race.

The Nutritional Demand

Cyclists in the Tour De France can burn an average of 6,000 to 8,000 calories per day, with mountain stages resulting in even higher energy expenditure. This high calorie count needs to be replaced for consistent performance and recovery.

Carbohydrate Loading

The primary source of a cyclist's fuel comes from carbohydrates, which are stored as glycogen in muscles. Prior to races, cyclists often ‘carbo-load', or increase their carbohydrates intake to maximize glycogen stores.

Fine-Tuning The Breakfast

On race days, cyclists usually have breakfast 3-4 hours before the start. This meal is high in carbohydrates but also includes proteins and fats. A typical breakfast may consist of cereals, bread, pasta, eggs, and fruits.

Fueling during the Race

Eating and hydrating during the race is crucial. Race nutrition often includes energy bars, gels, bananas, and sandwiches, delivered to cyclists at supply points or carried in their jersey pockets. These foods offer a quick and easy way to refuel without slowing down.

Post-Race Recovery

Protein intake becomes crucial post-race for muscle repair and recovery. A recovery meal often includes lean proteins like chicken or fish, along with carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores.


Hydration plays a vital role in performance. A loss of even 2% body weight through sweating can impair performance. Cyclists drink water, but also sports drinks enriched with electrolytes to make up for the loss through sweating.

The Role of the Team Chef

Many teams now have their team chefs, who travel with the squad, preparing meals that are both nutritionally optimum and appealing to the palate, a much-needed morale booster during the taxing race weeks.

What Do Pro Cyclists Eat During The Tour De France?


Effective nutrition management during the Tour De France is a balancing act that can significantly impact a cyclist's performance. They do not just eat to satisfy hunger, but with the specific goal of fueling their strenuous efforts and aiding recovery.

As we marvel at the speed, endurance, and strategy displayed by these athletes, it's fascinating to understand the role culinary science plays in the backdrop of this grand spectacle.

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