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Robert Gorgos is the team nutritionist of Bora-Hansgrohe Cycling Team (a World Tour level team). In this interview, he discusses his role and responsibilities as nutritionist at a World Tour team, and how cyclists at the highest level approach nutrition in racing, training, and in their day to day.
In this Episode you'll learn about:
- Robert's role and responsibilities as the nutritionist of Bora-Hansgrohe
- What's changed in the last few years, and what might change in the next few years in nutrition in pro cycling?
- Energy demands, macronutrient needs, and intake of nutrition in meals and in training during normal training periods
- Nutrition during stage races (during the race and around the race)
- How to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way
- The use of train-low strategies (training with low carbohydrate availability)
- How to be able to take on large amounts of carbohydrate in races
- Common mistakes and top tips around nutrition for endurance athletes
- My name is Robert Gorgos and I am a sports nutritionist from Germany, currently working with the Bora-Hansgrohe professional cycling team as a nutritional advisor.
A typical work day
- During the pre and race season I work on several different ”fronts”, one being in contacts with chefs of the team, making suggestions on what type of food they should be cooking, the other one advising the coaches on nutritional aspects of the training and racing and the final front being in contact with the riders and discuss how they are feeling and experiencing nutrition related aspects.
- During the off season I am engaged in planning all sorts of nutrition related orders for the upcoming pre and race season.
Current trends in cycling nutrition
- Nowadays we are trying to increase the amount of carbohydrates the riders are taking in during training and racing from 60-80g to around 80-90g per hour.
Some teams are even going higher than this, but at the moment we believe this is a good compromise, maybe it is possible to titrate it up slightly more from this in the future.
- Now we can also test the amount of fat respective carbohydrates that the riders consume at different intensities quite accurately, which increases the precision of nutritional planning.
Day to day nutrition
- During the base training period the riders train between 3-6h per day, and typically they consume 500-800 calories per hour during the base training sessions.
The energy expenditure is then matched by the diet (both though regular food and in training nutrition).
Normally, the riders eat regular food rich in macro nutrients, however, as little processed food as possible.
During regular (endurance) rides, normally we strive for an intake between 40-50g of carbohydrates per h, only during a few sessions per week we aim for 80-90g per h as we do in races.
On average, 55-65 % of the riders’ total energy intake come from carbohydrates, which is slightly more than what it used to be.
- One can say that all riders implement a carbohydrate rich diet as a base.
Just a few riders implement ”low carb rides” at a maximum of once per week or once every two weeks (the rest of the time they take in rather much carbohydrates).
- Even riders who are trying to loose weight do not cut down on carbohydrates, instead they try and cut down on high density food (food with plenty of calories per 100g, e.g. chocolate).
To loose weight we strive for a caloric deficit between 10-15 %, if it gets much higher than this, the body starts to slow down the metabolism and maybe also break down some muscles, which is extremely unproductive from a performance standpoint.
World tour riders have a body fat percentage between 5-10 %.
”Low carb training”
- Generally, we rarely do fasted training, only a few specific riders do this and only at certain times of the season (early pre season).
The strategy for this is then to do a medium intensity ride the night before and after that have a low carb meal and in the morning the next day go out for a very easy ride while only taking in fats and proteins and/or slow release carbohydrates.
The future of cycling nutrition
- I think we are going to see an even higher amount of intake of carbohydrates during races (probably above 100g/h), this is also an area that I am really fascinated about at the moment!
In order to take in this much carbohydrates, one must make sure to take in a correct mixture of different types of carbohydrates.
- I also think that more and more professional cycling teams are going to have cooking buses.
Top 3 advice to amateur athletes
- Don’t go low carb.
- Make sure to fuel the riders probably.
- Do not overdo fasted training and ”low carb training”.
Rapid fire questions
- What’s your favorite book, blog or resource related to endurance sports? A book called ”Peak Performance” by John Hawly end Louise Burke.
- What is a personal habit that has helped you achieve success? I have listened to my body and not just followed at training plan.
- Who is someone you look up to or has inspired you? Tim Knoop, a very skilled scientist who I, however, don’t always agree with.
LINKS AND RESOURCES:
- Ministry of Nutrition - Robert's online store of nutrition products
- Bora-Hansgrohe Cycling Team
- All Nutrition-related episodes on That Triathlon Show
- Musculoskeletal adaptations, “train low” strategies, and muscle fiber types with prof. John Hawley | EP#248
- High carbohydrate, low carbohydrate, or periodised carbohydrate intake with Louise Burke, PhD | EP#236
- Endurance sports nutrition: state of the art in 2019 with prof. John Hawley | EP#181
- Effects of 120 g/h of Carbohydrates Intake during a Mountain Marathon on Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage in Elite Runners