Nutrition Strategy

Nutrition Strategy

To break an endurance world record requires adapting to the lifestyle of an elite athlete in every aspect, within this, nutritional control is essential. This week, Alex Neilan, Sport Dietitian on The Fastest Cycle Across Europe team, explains his approach to ensuring my body is in peak condition on the start line and that it can tolerate the nutritional demands of the event.

Optimising sports nutrition is a fundamental part of maximising athletic performance

Optimising sports nutrition is a fundamental part of maximising athletic performance at an elite level. It’s crucial to ensure the athlete has the energy to perform at the required intensity, a controlled diet also aids faster recovery – facilitating more frequent training, furthermore, diet is intrinsically linked to reducing injury.

To establish the objective of Leigh’s diet plan, an accurate measurement of body fat percentage is essential. Using callipers to perform a seven-point skin-fold test, it has been determined that Leigh’s current body fat percentage is 12.02 percent. From a nutritional point of view, the primary short-term goal is to reduce this to 8-10%.

Through the initial phase of dietary management, we will collaborate closely to find an effective balance between the optimal scientific methodology and what is practical for Leigh to maintain. The meal plan will focus largely on maximising carbohydrate intake while staying within an energy budget structured for a reduction in body fat. Weight loss is aimed at 0.5kg per week but this will vary depending on training fluctuations. A dynamic and flexible nutrition plan will ensure that Leigh’s performance remains at the centre of our focus throughout a modest calorie deficit.

Carbohydrate and protein timings based around training and sleep patterns will utilise enhanced glycogen repletion and protein synthesis post exercise, and maximise recovery during an intense training schedule.

If an athlete enjoys their diet, they are far more likely to sustain it

Foods will be centred around Leigh’s taste, as nutritious foods are only nutritious when eaten. Flavoursome and fast to make recipes will ensure that the food eaten is more than just functional, it is truly enjoyable. If an athlete enjoys their diet, they are far more likely to sustain it.

Leigh’s weight will be examined weekly, in order to monitor changes and to modify the prescribed diet. Once the target fat percentage is achieved, the dietary focus will shift to maximising Leigh’s intake in line with his training performance, while mitigating any risk of nausea and intolerances.

Throughout the preparation and the attempt, I will be bringing you weekly behind the scenes videos and blogs, documenting what it takes to prepare for a world record. Next week, through a professional bike fit, I’ll be ensuring my position on the bike is correct and discovering how this essential process affects comfort and fatigue.

Follow my world record adventure now on my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin.

More information about Alex Neilan at

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