Updated: Stuffing Face & Keeping Pace
Ever look around at the riders lining up next you and think wonder what she eats ...? Well you're not alone. It's totally common to wonder what your friends (and competition) are eating, especially when it comes to pro athletes who make us all stare in awe as they effortlessly spin their super quads and lean bodies in circles around the rest of us.
Because #crossiscoming we thought it would be a good time to catch up with Pro Cyclocross Rider Jen Malik about her nutrition.
Last year we chatted with Jen about her performance eating habits as she entered the world of being a professional cyclist (scroll down for that interview). Now, a year later, let's check-in and see what she has (or hasn't) changed and if its affected her racing.
This year Jen is racing mountain bike + cross only (#sorrynotsorry road racing). She is currently privateering for mountain under the support of Paradise Garage and Bikefettish. For 2018 cross, she's super stocked to have joined the American Classic Pro CX team.
August 17th 2017 Interview with Jennifer Malik by Lori Nedescu
Lori- How has your nutrition changed since the last time we chatted?
Jen- It's definitely improved! Although I still struggle with cookies (did you know Insomnia delivers until 2am!?) and Indian buffets, overall I'm much more focused.
L-What is something you've been doing differently?
J- I started writing out my meals for about 2 months to make sure I was getting a good balance of macronutrients.
L- That's a great practice! Are you still doing that?
J- Not daily, because I have a much better grasp on what it means for me to eat a balanced, quality diet. I do plan ahead still, especially before going to the grocery shopping. It's way too convenient to have a grocery store within a tenth of a mile from my apartment!
Lori- How has your nutrition changed to meet your super pro status?
Jen- My workouts are way more intense (which I love!) and I have days with multiple workout sessions which made me realize how important it is to stay on top of nutrition. Last year I would get lazy after a workout session and forget about recovery fuel and feel like death hours later, just no energy. As a pro, I have no time to feel like a zombie post training. Now I make sure to have something with me to eat as soon as I finish a ride/workout and remain functional for the rest of the day.
L- So many athletes fall into that trap!! It's an eye opener once you incorporate proper recovery nutrition; just because the training session is over, doesn't mean you're 'done'. Eating will help your body repair, reenergize and prep you for the next session.
J- Yeah it's working! I'm seeing gains in my training, all my numbers are increasing!
L- What is your go-to recovery meal?
J- Lately I've been obsessed with making a big crockpot of tomato soup and freezing some, it can last me 2 weeks of recovery meals! It has lots of veggies and is super quick to reheat.
L- Awesome! Great meal planning! And I'm a huge fan of soup as recovery because it gets the body back to savory foods post workout and is great for rehydrating the body!
Lori- What else are you currently eating?
Jen- I keep things pretty consistent. Right now I'm trying to do a salad a day. By salad, I mean epicly large mix of kale and veggies with hard boiled egg. When I need something more, I turn the salad into a rice bowl. Since getting a juicer, I make my own blend of carrot, ginger, orange juice. Breakfast is typically whole grain cereal with almond milk and greek yogurt. Today I actually branched out and tried collard wraps!
Lori- I'm sure that diet will take you far! Good luck this season!
June 8th 2016 Interview with Jennifer Malik by Lori Nedescu
WHAT ARE THEY EATING!?
Lets find out! In order to gain some understanding of how our fellow female cyclists fuel their sport, we are going to take a snap shot look at the diet of professional cyclocross rider (and my road cycling teammate) Jennifer Malik. Although this is just a peak at her fueling habits, we can learn from what habits are on track and what improvements she might want to make for better performance. This little exercise will also give you some insight into how a consult with a sports specific dietitian goes down and could help you pinpoint areas of improvement in your own nutrition needs.
Before we open her fridge up... lets get to know Jen a little better.
(Lori) How did you get your start in the sport?
(Jen) I used to run and compete in triathlons, but was always terrible on the bike. I decided to become more involved in the Columbus cycling community to improve my cycling but ended up being introduced to cyclocross at a local clinic hosted by the Lady Gnar Shredders and fell in love with the sport.
L - Understatement!! Not only did she fall in love with cyclocross, but she crushed the sport; going from her very first race to a pro race in the same season.
L - What team(s) do you ride for?
J - Womens CX Project (cross), Womens Project Pedal + OSU (road) and Paradise Garage (UCI mtn bike)
L - Favorite bike?
J - Focus Mares CX
L - When you're not riding (and not eating) you are...
J - PhD student studying Biomedical Engineering at The Ohio State University
L - Where she designs models of the inner ear... yea it’s a thing and Jen does it.
L - Do you have any off the bike special talents?
J - I can sleep through anything. Cannon blast, earthquake, smoke alarm, people hunting 15 ft from my tent while camping... the list goes on.
L - You have a pet right?
J - Otis – 4 year old rescue Ohio Brown dog.
L - Ohio Brown? Is that an official color!?!
L - Favorite song:?
J - B52s – Rock Lobster
L - This is why we listen to separate headphones on car trips to races...
L - Alright, lets chat a bit about your eating habits and goals. Why is nutrition important to you?
J - Nutrition has an impact on all aspects of my life. I can tell both physically and mentally when I have been slacking on my nutrition! My schedule is incredibly hectic and given the amount of activity I do I want to make sure that I am providing my body with the appropriate foods to help me perform my best and make the most of my workouts. I also really want to make sure that I start developing healthy eating habits so that I can continue to rock my crazy schedule for a long long time.
L - It's super important that you are looking at nutrition as a right now AND long term factor! Every athlete should do the same. When athletes only consider how eating effects their current performance, they are liable to create future deficiencies.
L - Do you have any nutrition or eating goals?
J - Eat a clean and well balanced diet and minimize processed foods.
L - Perfect. This should be almost everyone's goal! Now that you have a goal...make a plan to set it in motion!
L - Do you follow a special diet?
J - Vegetarian. But I eat dairy, eggs and some fish.
L - Okay, it's good that you have limits, but are not overly restrictive. Any special diet can be done well or poorly.. .vegetarians should remember the root word is veg so the diet should be rich in produce.
L - Go-to fueling food?
J - Peanut butter toast
L - Are you sure you don't mean peanut butter by the spoonful?...
J - Hehehe....I don't know what you're talking about...
L - What food item do you always pack with you?
J - A banana.
L - Good choice; having a piece of fruit on hand is the perfect natural snack.
J - Yeah, otherwise I will reach for a Girl Scout Cookie. They are my weakness for sure – I got asked if I wanted some after a trainer night and ended up ordering 7 boxes and promptly eating them that night and felt terrible/sick. Oops.
L - OMG. We've all been there... stick with the banana.
L - If I looked in your fridge right now... you'd be most embarrassed by:
J - The current lack of food. Must. Go. Grocery. Shopping.
L - That is a problem. One, because you live 100 ft from a grocery store...
J - I know, I know!!!
L - But more importantly, readers take note, if you do not have good, quality food in reach, you are more apt to eat poor quality junk food. Always have an emergency meal on hand like canned tuna + mac n chz + frozen veggies or even a few healthy frozen meals on hand like an Amys Tofu Rice Bowl.
L - Post Race Craving?
J - Pizza!!!
L - Not a bad choice!
J - Yes! Winning! Ha.
L - Pizza gets a bad rap, but it can have a great balance of macronutrients to fuel your body. Just skip the greasy meat or thick pastry crust style pizza.
L - Favorite Food?
J - Currently, avocados... Although I still can't cut them into flowers. Damn #avocadochallenge.
L - That's a skill we will work on. Luckily for us that doesn't take away from how nutritionally sound the avocado is. I suggest eating them often. Calorie dense, which athletes need, and full of healthful fats to promote satiety, brain function and endurance.
L - What is your eating weakness?
J - Sometimes I keep eating even though I'm full because I like the taste of what I am eating.
L - So many athletes struggle with this. The trick is to eat filling foods, eat slowly, and only serve yourself what you think you need. Athletes shouldn't skimp on food intake, but everyone is at risk of over consuming, regardless of activity level.
Alright, let's take a snap shot look at your diet. Tell me how your day played out, food & workout wise.
Biggest A+ of the day: Great vegetable intake! Really proud of you stepping it up and moving away from convenience foods to cooking quality, veggie rich meals.
All athletes should take note; just because you burn lots of calories does not give you free reign to consume junk food. You won't be riding at pro status with a poor diet.
Biggest area for improvement: Your riding would benefit from more calories and carbohydrates placed before and during the workout. Let's aim for 15 grams of carbohydrate in solid food form every 30 minutes during the ride while sipping the hydration mix for an extra boost and electrolytes.
Hopefully this gives you a little insight into evaluating your own diet for better performance while feeling at ease that pro cyclists still have nutrition goals to work towards. Remember that every athletes needs are different, so if you're concerned you are struggling in this area, please consult a dietitian who specialized in your sport for a full consult.