Dr. Allen Lim is a sports physiologist who has worked with the biggest riders in professional cycling. One of his most influential contributions to the sport has been changing how the traditionally pasta-fueled peloton thinks about food.
Lim and professional chef Biju Thomas tested hundreds of recipes with Tour de France cyclists to find out what worked: what was easy to make, delicious to eat, and friendly to high performance. They share their favorite dishes in The Feed Zone Cookbook: Fast and Flavorful Food for Athletes, now available from VeloPress.
I started working on the Pro Cycling Tour just a few months after finishing my doctorate in integrative physiology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I knew the science, I was proud of it, and I felt ready to put it into practice. But it became immediately clear that my scientific vocabulary was of little use in helping the athletes I worked with to optimize their diets. I was speaking the wrong language. On my first night in Europe I watched one of the athletes I was coaching pour a bowl of cereal for dinner, and I knew we all had to do better.
I needed to teach the athletes simple, practical recipes. In some cases I needed to teach them how to shop for food, how to chop vegetables, or how to literally fry an egg. Even for the riders who did have skills in the kitchen, I was continually looking for ways to translate my scientific knowledge into practical meals.
For me, this knowledge and motivation really came together after I met Chef Biju Thomas. Biju was catering a dinner party for Jonathan Vaughters, the founder of the Garmin professional cycling team, whom I had been working for at the time. His meal was incredible—not just delicious but profoundly simple and nourishing. I immediately began talking to Biju about his cooking style, about food, and about helping me make great nutrition through great meals more accessible for the athletes I coached. We took our conversations about diet and nutrition a step further; instead of talking with athletes about food theory, we began actually cooking with them, not just cooking for them.
The Feed Zone Cookbook is a manifestation of countless conversations, endless days on the road in hotel kitchens, race meals made in cramped motor homes, and the often comical times cooking with our very close friends, many of whom just happen to be some of the best professional cyclists in the world. We put this book together not as a bible or manifesto on diet and nutrition but as a reference for athletes looking for no-nonsense, race-proven ideas, who are also willing to take the time and energy to cook the recipes that we know just work.
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