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World Class Cyclists & Special Diets – Lizzie Deignan

By Jiri Kaloc

Are you looking for nutritional inspiration from a successful female road cyclist? Lizzie Deignan (née Armitstead), the World and the Commonwealth road race champion, is an excellent choice to be your role model. Let’s check out her fuelling strategy and learn how she resists the temptation to make unhealthy choices.

Three meals a day

The best lessons in nutrition are those you live through. Lizzie learned hers going into 2013, she didn’t really buy into sports nutrition, and she put a little bit too much weight on in the off-season. It took the whole season and changing her eating habits to get back to where she was. Her view on diet has changed since then.

“I make sure that I have three main meals a day. I never skip a meal. I have seen so many riders who get into this cycle of putting on weight and starving themselves and you can only do that so many times before your metabolism is totally knackered. So I make sure I have three meals, and then it’s about being consistently healthy, you have to be prepared to take weight off in a long way instead of really quickly.”

Say no to the first biscuit

We are all tempted by unhealthy choices, especially when hungry after a ride, or when everyone around us is enjoying something irresistibly delicious. Lizzie knows herself well by now and this is how she deals with cravings.

“At Christmas and things like that, you are surrounded by people who are telling you that you must eat, I try not to get carried away with what they are saying. I never take advice on my diet from other people. I know what’s good for me and I stick to what I know. If like me, you are an all-or-nothing person – if you have one biscuit, you’ll have the packet – it is all about resisting that first biscuit.”

A typical training day nutrition

Lizzy described her usual fuelling regiment in an interview for Total Women’s Cycling magazine:

For breakfast

“My favourite breakfast is porridge so I start off the morning with that. It will generally have berries on it with cinnamon and some almonds. I will also have an espresso. And that is for a good long training ride.”

On the bike

“I always just train with water. I hate using energy drinks because I use them so much when racing and they are terrible for your teeth. I would eat bananas, flapjacks – I don’t eat any products as I try to limit them to race day. So I only eat proper food when I am training.”

After a ride

“I have a salad for lunch followed by a Greek yoghurt and then for main meal I have some fish, vegetables and rice.”

It is clear Lizzy knows what she’s doing, she chooses to fuel with nutrient dense wholesome foods and avoids highly processed stuff. She gets plenty of vegetables and fruits, opts for slow carbs in the morning to keep her fuelled for a long ride, doesn’t shy away from healthy fats like yoghurt, nuts, and fish, and includes enough protein for recovery. If you’re not sure where to start with nutrition, be more like Lizzy!