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Sports: 6 foods and drinks that Tour de France chefs refuse to serve their riders

Sean Fowler and Olga Belenka cook for the US-registered Cannondale-Drapac team at the Tour de France.

There are just some foods and drinks that Tour de France chefs will almost never serve their riders. Here they are.

The 198 riders who start each Tour de France are some of the fittest athletes on the planet, and they have to consume an impressive number of calories each day to fuel their bodies in the three-week race.

They have to chow so much that eating actually becomes work, and by the third week chefs have to get creative when preparing healthy but delicious meals.

Still, there are just some foods and drinks that Tour chefs will almost never serve riders.

Given modern cycling's obsession with sports science and nutrition and marginal gains, many cyclists won't see certain items at the team's breakfast or dinner table.

Olga Belenka and Sean Fowler, chefs for the American Cannondale-Drapac team, shared with Business Insider the foods and drinks they avoid serving their riders. The cyclists may consume some of these items on their own, but never at Belenka and Fowler's table, where the athletes eat all their meals. Like all chefs, they have strong opinions!

"Since the beginning, we've been gluten-free, lactose-free, and white-sugar-free," Fowler says. "I continue that diet, but the riders do still sometimes have that — just not from me."

Here are the six things Cannondale-Drapac riders are almost never served during the Tour.

Pork

"Pork is too heavy and hard to digest," Belenka tells Business Insider. "We just never cook pork. In the morning, we have omelettes with chicken or roasted turkey breast."

Occasionally, they will make an exception and add some ham to the omelettes.

Many pork products are high in fat, which means they take some time to digest, just like beef.

Milk

Fowler gets passionate when he talks about milk. "There doesn't exist in today's market, anywhere — unless you have a cow in your house — milk that's nutritious," Fowler tells us. "Milk is dead white water that's been fortified. There is no beneficial bacteria."

"And most dietitians implement a lot of dairy into the diet exclusively for the protein — and they don't consider all the bad things. There's all sorts of bad things in milk."

While Fowler is anti-milk, in general research shows that milk is a good source of protein and an effective hydration source. Some small studies show that it can improve athletic performance and is an effective recovery beverage. But in some people, especially those with lactose intolerance, dairy products can cause digestive issues.

White sugar

Like many health-conscious people these days, Fowler and Belenka say they avoid using white sugar altogether.

"Maybe we'll use brown sugar from time to time, but it's always less than what most people would use," Fowler says. "Agave syrup is a substitute once in a while. When we make something sweet for the riders, we try to do 50% fructose and 50% glucose."

Belenka adds: "Generally we try not to do too many sweets. Even making cakes, I try to use bananas, dates, and other options for sweetness."

As Business Insider's Erin Brodwin has reported: "When we eat large amounts of sugar and don't balance these calories with those from protein and fat, which the body breaks down more slowly, it can lead to dramatic rises and drops in blood sugar. These 'crashes' can cause 'hanger,' or what's known as being angry and hungry at the same time."

Wheat and gluten

Cyclists in the Tour de France won't see much in the way of wheat or gluten at Fowler's table. He says he doesn't like to use the word "gluten" because of the stigma it has these days.

"I prefer to say 'wheat,' not 'gluten.' The issue with wheat is that it's genetically modified, so there are bigger issues than gluten. But gluten is not necessarily bad for you."

Fowler avoids wheat, but in the US there's no genetically modified wheat grown for commercial purposes, and most researchers agree that genetically modified foods are as safe as conventionally farmed products. For those who don't have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, wheat consumption should be safe.

Flatulent foods, like most cabbages

"We try to avoid all type of veggies that produce flatulence," Belenka says. "Many types of cabbages. And also a lot of beans."

"Some cabbages in the cabbage family are actually helpful to maintain your flora," Fowler says. "Like Brussels sprouts and cauliflower and broccoli, which are good for flora, but in small amounts and very, very al dente — not too cooked. As a rule, no more than three minutes."

"And if we do cook beans, we soak them for 24 hours before serving," Belenka adds.

Soft drinks and other carbonated beverages

Fowler and Belenka say the riders generally avoid soft drinks. When we were at the Tour, we didn't see any riders drinking any soft drinks at all.

The sugar is obviously not good for them, as mentioned, and the drinks are carbonated.

"They drink still, natural mineral water and drink tea and coffee," Belenka says. "But no Coke or Fanta or any soft drinks."

The riders have energy mix in their water bottles for racing, but never at the table.

NEXT: Here's what the world's best cyclists actually eat for dinner at the Tour de France >>

Source: Pulse Nig

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