With summer cycling and hiking in the mountains just around the corner, I wanted to write a piece on nutrition for endurance aka “how to eat like an athlete”. I reached out to friend Biju Thomas, a professional chef who has cooked for some of cycling’s top athletes and teams. A few minutes in to the conversation I realized this piece was going to turn out completely different from what I thought…. and that is a good thing!
Biju and Dr. Lim’s latest book, The Feed Zone Table, is so well written that I am just going to share some of my favorite quotes from the book here:
We are not interested in perpetuating the idea that there has to be a certain way that athletes eat for performance that is somehow different from how non athletes eat for health and well-being.
While athletes calibrate training and diet for better performance, it’s a pursuit that often isolates them from friends and family.
Drawing form his work with professional cyclists, along with extensive research from a full line-up of scientists, sociologists, and pyschologists, Dr. Lim makes the case that the simple act of eating together nourishes emotional health and in turn has a tremendous impact on how the body absorbs nutrients. In fact, for athletes this social fuel is as important as chemical fuel.
Applying broader strokes, to a larger community outside of professional athletes...
Loneliness is as detrimental to our physical and mental health as any major health epidemic or risk factor. Eating together is independently related to improved health and happiness and needs to be recognized as an important strategy for buffering loneliness.
In my conversation with Biju, he talked about his experience while traveling with professional cycling teams and seeing performance drop off because of lack of social interaction and social support. When the riders ate together, it made a difference. They felt connected which boosted their performance.
Talking with Biju and reading The Feed Zone Table were truly eye opening. Fascinating stuff that makes a lot of sense. In Biju’s words...there is no magical athlete food. Look at food as what you can eat with your family. Make smart choices. The food science is really eat what you like, with people you like!