This has got everyone at Linwoods excited, as one of the biggest sporting events in the world lands in our own backyard.  To celebrate this momentous occasion for Northern Ireland and Armagh, we are taking a look at the diet of some of the world's top cycling stars, and what they eat to prepare and recover for this truly intense competition.

How do cyclists prepare for intense competition races

While many of us enjoy getting onto a bike and going for a gentle cycle around the park or to and from work, professional cyclists take it to another level.  Road racing can involve racing more than 200km in 1 day or sprinting a short distance like 25km (that's right, sprinting!) to try and be the first past the finish line.  In racing events like the Giro and Tour de France, these stages make up a 3 week competition, were nutrition and diet is crucial in preparing and recovering for each stage.  While it's unlikely that you will be getting onto a bike and hitting the roads for 3 weeks, there is still a lot to take from the way cyclists look after their bodies, especially if you are someone who trains on a regular basis.  Here are some ways in which top cyclists prepare and recover for races.

Diet of a cyclist - Linwoods Foods

Tips for preparing and recovering for a cycling session:

1. Look after your gut and digestion:

There is no point in eating good food if your body is unable to process it.  Cut out the foods that can irritate your gut and concentrate on those that can help it.  Reduce your intake of caffeine, alcohol and highly acidic foods, and start to eat more vegetables.  Nigel Mitchell,  head of nutrition with British Cycling and Team Sky explains that “We used to get riders on tours with gut irritation, but we worked to prevent it and don't have those problems now”.  One way of helping your gut is by adding fibre to your diet, and flax seed and chia seed are both great sources of fibre.  Check out our milled organic chia seed to find out more on the added benefits of fibre in your diet.  

2. Fuel your body:

It's important to start each day with a healthy breakfast as this can help to replenish the glycogen stores in your liver and provide your body with much needed energy sources.  This is especially the case if you are planning to work out early in the morning.  Take a light breakfast or a breakfast smoothie to stabilise your blood sugar levels and set you on your way.  If you are really keen to get into cycling or work out on a regular basis, it's important to effectively fuel your body throughout the day.  Don't skip meals and ensure your body gets the energy it needs both before and after training.  Read our previous article on tips to preparing and recovering for a training session, and never underestimate the importance of water and keeping hydrated throughout the day and also throughout any workout, especially in the warmer summer days.

3. Eat once you finish training:

It's vitally important that you eat a meal or supplement within an hour of completing a training session as this will help your body recover and will provide your muscles with the nutrients needed to repair.  If you don't eat after a long cycle or workout, you'll start to feel lethargic and won't be as fresh for your next race.  Flaxseed is a great source of iron which helps transport oxygen around the body, aiding recover.  Try out our milled organic flaxseed in a tasty chicken and vegetable tagine.

4. Embrace the power of broccoli:

Our final tip for preparing for a race (even a race to the bus stop!) in the morning or indeed any workout is to try vegetable juices.  Broccoli, beetroot and celery are firm favourites among many of the Team Sky riders as it allows them to get the nutrients needed from these vegetables in a quick and easy way.  Buy your own juicing machine and experiment with different vegetables to find a combination that works for you in the morning.  To enjoy additional health benefits and flavour, add a spoonful of Linwoods milled organic sunflower and pumpkin seeds to your juice.

Giro D'Italia diet advice - Linwoods Foods

We hope you have found some of our suggestions useful! If you are a fan of cycling and looking forward to the start of the Giro D'Italia, let us know what you are looking forward to most by connecting with us on Facebook and Twitter.  If you have any cycling inspired photos or preparation stories, let us know and we will share the best.

The Giro D'Italia kicks off on Friday 9th May in Belfast, with the 3rd stage taking place in Armagh, the home town of Linwoods on Sunday 11th March, before heading to Dublin and then on to Italy.  Visit www.girostart2014.com for more information on this year's Giro D'Italia.

Images courtesy of www.grahamwatson.com.