During the Tour de France a rider is in a constant battle with energy balance. Food consumption is just as important to these riders as turning the pedals. We look into how the teams go about weight management during a Grand Tour.

At the start of each Grand Tour, a team will do a body composition analysis with each rider. They will check their starting weight and body fat percentage as benchmark to compare to throughout the race. A rider doesn’t want to be losing weight during the 3 weeks as this would mean they are in negative energy balance. Being in a negative energy balance during a race can not only affect on the bike performance but also a riders recovery.

What you tend to find is your climbers will be absolutely super skinny and sometimes you’re really having to protect them so they don’t lose any more weight. Some of the bigger guys may start a kilo heavier than what they need to be but within that first 9 days it isn’t going to make much difference if people are a kilo over. Riders don’t really want to be trying to lose weight when in a race like the TDF because if you are in a negative energy balance then that affects your recovery.

The teams use a very simple tool to measures skin folds. A portable set of callipers can easily be transported from stage to stage. They usually measure the total number of mm of the 8 skin folds sites.

You would expect your top climbers to come in with this sum of 8 below 33mm and the bigger sprinter guys at around 40mm. Compare that to a professional footballer would be between 50-70mm.

Weight is also monitored before and after stages to help keep track of hydration status. For every 1kg lost during  stage, a rider is advised to consume 1.5L of fluid to get back on top of hydration. Adding a Hydro Tab helps to body to retain the fluid, better than just consuming water alone.

The amount of calories a rider can burn per day could be anywhere between 3500-7000 depending on the type of stage. If it is a super hard and long stage then it could be as much as 9000kcal. To replenish this amount of calories the riders have a duty to take on food at all given opportunities; on and off the bike.

Basically Tour de France riders are either eating, sleeping or riding their bike. And when they’re riding their bikes they are eating too.

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Teams give their riders as many opportunities as possible to eat and the team bus is such an important part of that. As soon as every rider finishes the stage the first thing they think about is nutrition for recovery. A bottle of OTE Super Protein is a superior product that will provide the riders with high quality protein to optimise the recovery process. The good thing about this is it provides protein but it also helps the riders replenish their fluid, another important part of recovery especially after a hot stage.

Another important part of recovery is to top up glycogen stores in the muscles. Some riders like to eat the carbohydrates to replenish these stores and so a small meal based on either rice or pasta is supplied to riders straight after their recovery drink. After a really hard mountain stages a team could add extra carbs to the Super Recovery Protein Drink to by adding a scoop of OTE Carbo Booster.

To find out more about the importance of recovery click here.

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