If you want to be a fast, strong cyclist, you might want to learn how to cook, says sports physiologist Allen Lim.
Lim, a sports physiologist for the Team RadioShack pro cycling team, says one of the reasons he decided to co-author “The Feed Zone Cookbook” with local chef Biju Thomas was that “skills in the kitchen, rather than skills on the bike, were such a limiting factor for so many of the athletes I was working with.”
Lim and Thomas will offer a demonstration of recipes from the new cookbook at Boulder's Sterling-Rice Group demonstration kitchen, 1808 13th Street, on Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. Cyclist Taylor Phinney will be their sous chef for the evening. Registration is at aneveninginthefeedzone.com.
One of the reasons Lim wants athletes to learn how to cook is so they can eat “real food.”
“Real food causes less stomach problems than a lot of the prepackaged foods that are for sold and marked to athletes,” said Lim, who is accustomed to talking Tour de France cyclists into eating more and more to meet their daily caloric needs during the stage race. “Guys just don't get sick when they're eating real food, as opposed to a lot of the other stuff we try to shove down their throats.”
“If that sports bar makes my athletes sick, who cares if it has the next latest greatest chemical or compound?”
The cookbook is broken down by meals but includes a section on “portables,” meaning food you can take with you on a bike ride or run, and “apres” -- after exercising. Included in the “portables” section are Lim's famous rice cakes, which local pro cyclist Timmy Duggan praises in the books' foreward as “tasty and effective.”
The rice cakes are simple, Lim said.
“If you look at the ingredient list and compare it to a typical power bar -- you've got rice, eggs, some prosciutto,” he said. “They taste great, they're savory. And all of that is in contrast to what athletes are typically given -- the sweet, sugary gut-bomb type of food.”
“When you look at the sports nutrition market, there are all these weird hybrids that seem like good ideas... but you rarely see that stuff in nature,” he said of pre-packaged bars.
Speaking of prosciutto, Lim said with a laugh that bacon is a somewhat frequent ingredient in recipes in the book because “bacon is a gateway meat. Everyone loves bacon. If you're a vegetarian and one day you're thinking about that steak, bacon's going to crack you.”
More to the point, he said, athletes won't eat while they're racing if the food doesn't taste good. Bacon isn't a great idea if you're not exercising, or if you're eating a lot of it he said.
“Everything in moderation is fine,” he said. “Chocolate, butter, sugar, bacon, frying stuff -- it's all fine in moderation, if you have an active lifestyle.”
Lim said most of the recipes in the book take about 20 minutes to prepare. But it wasn't their intention to make it easy, necessarily, because it's not always convenient to exercise or take care of yourself, he said.
“If anything, I want to make sure athletes recognize and understand that the time and commitment they put into their diet had to be on par with the commitment they put into their training or racing,” he said.
But Lim believes there's a positive outcome to taking the time and effort to create real, tasty food, and he's seen it produce results in the pro cyclists he's worked with.
“I had to carry a rice cooker around Europe, and deal with a lot of bigotry because I was a Chinese guy carrying a rice cooker around Europe,” Lim said.
“But it was worth it.”