How to Eat Like a Pro Athlete

Portland cyclist Brianna Walle shares her pre-race nutrition plan (hint: it includes baby food).

By Zach Dundas March 3, 2014 Published in the March 2014 issue of Portland Monthly

Last year was your rookie season as a pro cyclist; this month, you’re off to Europe for the brutal Spring Classics. How have you adjusted?

I used to have a couple beers after races. I’d have pizza the night before. Now I’m tracking my caloric intake with an app, I don’t eat anything with lactose, and I have a glass of wine with a meal. No more beer. 

Sounds fun! What do you eat?

I graze throughout the day—six or eight little meals, plus snacks. I never get to the point where I’m actively hungry. There’s a saying in cycling: if you’re hungry, it’s too late.

For breakfast this morning, I sautéed some kale and shredded sweet potatoes with salt and pepper and chipotle—though I wouldn’t do chipotle on race days—and eggs. The rest of the day, it’s a lot of organic vegetables, rice cakes with almond butter, jerky, lactose-free yogurt...For on the bike, I’ll make “rice squares”—sticky rice, raisins, cashews, and honey; date balls, with dates and cocoa powder; and squeeze-packets of organic baby food.

I need at least 2,500 calories a day, and much more during heavy training and competition; I can get up to 4,000 calories a day.

Isn’t that daunting, just logistically?

It does involve a lot of planning. We’re lucky, in Portland, to have such easy access to great food. It gets tricky when we travel. But even Walmart has an organic section now. 

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