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Train more efficiently: 4 top nutrition tips from cycling pro Anton Palzer

4 Ernährungstipps im Radsport

In this blog article, Anton Palzer (BORA – hansgrohe) gives you nutrition tips to help you train even more efficiently.

Nutrition in endurance sports explained very easily


In this blog article, we reveal 4 exclusive nutrition tips from professional cyclist Anton Palzer.

From skis to racing bike: Anton Palzer made this unusual and impressive transition in 2021. In March, he won the silver medal in ski mountaineering at the World Championships in Andorra, and just one month later he was on the start line of the Tour of the Alps, competing in his first cycling race as a professional.

His motto: “With courage and diligence, you can achieve anything in life!”

And: With effective training! Anton Palzer also knows this very well thanks to his many years of experience in two challenging sports. Therefore, we have summarized here 4 nutrition tips of the cycling professional from BORA – hansgrohe.

So you can train more effectively in cycling and achieve your goals faster!

Know your ACTUAL condition & requirements of the sport/competition.

Before Anton Palzer gets started with his training, data is first collected and analyzed: Fitness level, training goal, upcoming races, etc.

At the time of writing, for example, the former ski mountaineer is in an altitude training camp in Sölden. Even for non-competitive athletes, it’s super helpful to think about the most important parameters ahead of time.

Ask yourself the following questions at the beginning of a training cycle:

  • What is my current training status? (performance diagnostics, test runs/rides, etc.)
  • What competition am I training for? (distance, duration, altitude profile, etc.)
  • What specific demands does the competition place on my performance indicators and metabolic profile?
  • What time and stress budget do I have available for training?
  • How do I meet the nutritional needs for each individual session and what should I eat in day-to-day life?

Here we outline the meaning of these questions – however, questions and answers are usually related. You will notice this after reading the following paragraph.

Training goals and appropriate catering

There are various goals that can be pursued through a training session:

  • Improvement of the carbohydrate metabolism
  • Improvement of the fat metabolism
  • Reduction of VLamax (maximum lactate formation)
  • Increase of VO2max (maximum oxygen uptake)
  • Weight loss

Depending on what your goal is, you should make appropriate adjustments – we’re looking primarily at nutrition and food here.

Because: Every training method requires different strategies of optimal (sports) nutrition. Hence, your nutritional intake needs to be adapted to your training in order to achieve the right training stimuli and adaptations for your training or competition goal.

For fat metabolism training, it makes sense to consume slowly available carbohydrates, so-called slow-release products. Suitable for this purpose is our SLOW CARB, or (particularly good in the summer) our SLOW CARB HEAT product.

This is because it contains a carbohydrate source called isomaltulose, which passes slowly into the blood. This provides you with long-lasting energy, helps your body conserve muscle glycogen, and promotes fat metabolism training. This makes SLOW CARB ideal for basic endurance training, among other things.

During intense sessions that help you improve your VO2max, you need fast-available energy. You will find this, for example, in POWER CARB.

So consider your training goals and adjust your food intake during training, but also your daily diet accordingly.

If your training is focused on weight loss, then you should aim for an energy deficit should. This should ideally be discussed with a doctor and/or your trainer, and also only done in training (more on this later). An energy deficit is generally not recommended when you are preparing for a competition!

Do not underestimate time and stress budget!

Anton Palzer sleeps around ten hours a day and is very aware that this is a “luxury”. Most non-competitive athletes don’t even have the opportunity to get that much regeneration in due to work and family commitments.

So you should look at your day to figure out how much time you have realistically for your workout. How long are you out of the house? Are you perhaps caring for an elderly family member or do you have to pick up the kids from school and take care of meals and household chores?

These are all significant (stress) stimuli that can have a big impact on your performance.

In addition, someone who works on theier feet all day burns significantly more energy than someone whose job is primarily sedentary.

Therefore, you should be aware of your energy requirements at rest. If you then add the energy expenditure from your training, you can roughly estimate how high your energy intake should be – or, if weight loss is the goal, how much energy you can healthily conserve without losing strength and power.

Despite all the ambition, don’t forget one thing: your health and the fun of exercise should take priority. It’s better to skip a session than to go through it stressed and overtired. By doing so, you are only harming yourself. Proceeding with your planned trainings session can generate a supra-threshold stimulus for your system, causing a risk of infection or injury.

Simple but important: no tank, no performance

Especially in long (stage) races and thus long load duration, the right nutrition and sufficient food plays a decisive role.

In road cycling, competitions sometimes last as long as six hours or more. Additionally, it’s a real challenge to ride ten days in a row, like in stage races such as the Giro d’Italia or the Tour de France.

If something doesn’t go well on a day or gastrointestinal problems arise, it can quickly lead to a rider no longer playing a role in the overall classification.

It should actually be clear to everyone: without a tank, the engine can not perform. But for years, the rule in cycling was: the leaner, the faster. In this sport, body weight is therefore very crucial and health is often on a “knife edge”, as Anton Palzer also reports.

But for the professional cyclist, “the key moment” came in 2013.

During a ski marathon Toni experienced “the hunger pang of his life”. It even went so far that he couldn’t remember the last climbs. “I had a complete blackout,” he looks back. Because even in ski mountaineering, the motto at the time was: he who eats the least is the strongest.

Since then, these assumptions have – fortunately!!! – long been outdated. “I prefer to weigh one or two kilos more to have strength and to work on my VO2max, for example,” Toni knows better today.

To be efficient in cycling, VO2max utilization must be maximized while carbohydrate consumption (VLamax) is minimized. This is especially important for long-distance mountain riding – like the Tour de France.

The decisive factor is therefore the ability to deliver high performance even when exhaustion sets in. There are special training methods, such as HIT (High-Intensity Training), to optimize your VO2max. You can find out more about this by reading the artilce HERE.

Emphasize meals around workouts

A truly “golden” tip from Toni: emphasize meals around training.

So, very simply, if your workout is in the morning, make sure you have a good and sufficient energy intake, especially at breakfast and lunch. Dinner could be more concise in this example. In the evening, emphasize healthy foods such as vegetables, protective substances from fresh herbs (broccoli, onions, garlic) and proteins.

An important aspect of this tip is to be mindful of your food intake during exercise and the rapid supply of nutrients immediately after exercise. You probably already know about the famous “Open Window”.

Toni brought back a concrete example from his high-altitude training camp in the beautiful Ötztal valley in Sölden. This is what catering could look like from morning to night – on quiet days and on intense days:

Rest day: porridge (about 100g) with 500ml of water to save calories and at the same time absorb more fluid in altitude training camp. To this Toni mixes chia seeds for healthy fats and better texture. The porridge is supplemented with a piece of fruit, yogurt, skyr or cottage cheese. Thus, it comes to about 110g of carbohydrates.

On intense days, Toni simply replaces the water with about 300ml of rice milk.

At low intensity: 40 to 60g of carbs per hour. For example SLOW CARB and PORRIDGE BAR.

For intense loads, 100 to 120g of carbs per hour. For example POWER CARB and INTENSITY BAR.

After the workout: RECOVERY SHAKE to take advantage of the Open Window and to do something good for the body in a simple (and delicious) way.

150g dry pasta + light tomato sauce = 100g carbohydrates

If Toni wants to watch his weight more, this meal is a great way to “save”. So he reaches for a big mixed salad with some olive oil. Fresh herbs would also be a good choice here, as well as, for example, fish or lean (white) meat with some potatoes and vegetables.

Overall, a slight deficit of 5% to 8% is recommended for the “weight loss” goal. Definitely not more! Otherwise, you risk not only a drop in performance, but also long-term health problems.

Finally, Toni emphasizes that healthy weight loss is not possible overnight: consistency pays off.

You cannot do without a healthy basic diet

Training adaptations are only possible if these adaptations can be applied to everyday life. If you implement these basic nutritional guidelines in your daily diet, then you’re already doing a lot right:

  • Each of your meals should contain as much fruit and vegetables as possible.
  • Look for complex carbohydrates from natural sources (potatoes, grains) in your main meals.
  • Eat unprocessed food as much as possible – Even if you might have seen the odd rider, at the Tour de France, eating gummy bears after the race. In this case, it was about a quick and easy carbohydrate intake, and that’s fine for a change!
  • Protein is often forgotten, but contains important nutrients. Therefore, distribute your intake evenly over your meals (3-4 servings/daily) – preferably varied: fish, meat, egg, dairy products. It doesn’t have to be meat. Plant-based alternatives are just as good. Ideally, you’ll eat a mostly plant-based diet, with the occasional meat addition to your plate here and there.
  • Topic: Antinutritives – they can block nutrient absorption and thus influence entire training processes. You should keep an eye on that. You can find these antinutrients in soy, for example, as well as in large amounts of plant grains and seeds.

We hope these four nutrition tips from Anton Palzer will help you train more effectively in the future.

If you would like to know more about how professional cyclists like Toni feed themselves, then take a look at our Fueling strategy for the Tour de France!

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