People who train for and compete in endurance sports regularly sometimes have different nutrition needs than those who don’t. It’s easy to understand. In order to run 18 miles or bike for several hours on end, it’s absolutely essential to fuel properly and treat the body as the machine it is.
(Photo credit: Own work.)
The Feed Zone Cookbook: Fast and Flavorful Food For Athletes understands those needs. Authors Biju Thomas and Allen Lim have filled this book with recipes that both provide the necessary nutrients for proper training and taste delicious. Who says healthy has to be boring?
The cookbook is packed with more than 150 recipes geared toward cyclists, since both authors have cycling backgrounds. Thomas grew up in Colorado, became a chef, and has since cooked for athletes such as Levi Leipheimer, Christian Vande Velde and Lance Armstrong. Lim, who also loves to cook, has a doctorate in integrative physiology and has been both the team scientist and a cook on the Tour de France.
Though geared toward cyclists, recipes in this book are suitable for endurance athletes in any sport. My family, made up of marathon runners and swimmers, uses the cookbook almost daily. Our favorites include the spicy chicken tacos, the spicy coleslaw and the bacon potato cakes. The cookbook has sample recipes from an array of cultures and includes foods from South America, India, Europe and the United States. Many of the recipes are made without cheese, and yet they’re still delicious. I didn’t even know that was possible until I got this book.
In our house, we liked to make large batches of the pancakes, veggie burgers, tacos, and bacon potato hash. We put them in the fridge or freeze them, and that way the food is ready to go as soon as we need it. Most often we need food quickly after a long run.
I will say this, however: After some of those longer runs, the portions in these recipes feel rather small! Perhaps it’s because I’m so hungry after finishing the long run, but I think perhaps they truly are a bit smaller than what I’m used to. It’s not a terrible thing though because the smaller portions help me to watch my training weight and prevent train gain.
Each recipe includes easy-to-follow directions with all of the per-serving information listed at the bottom. Per-serving information includes calories, fat grams, sodium grams, carbohydrate grams, fiber grams and protein grams.
The book covers everything from breakfast to dessert and even has an individual section for portables — small snacks that can be carried during races to help fuel athletes. (Since The Feed Zone Cookbook was published, Lim and Thomas have published a cookbook devoted entirely to portables, called Feed Zone Portables. We haven’t tried that one because we have found the portables in this book to be sufficient for our needs.)
My family really likes The Feed Zone Cookbook because it’s optimized to meet the needs of our active lifestyle. I feel confident that, with these recipes, we’re getting the nutrients we need to help fuel our long marathon-training runs.
Sandra Johnson is a freelance writer with nearly 10 years experience. Her work has been published on Yahoo!, USA Today, CBS, and AXS.com, among others. When she isn't writing, she's running marathons, swimming, and spending lots of time with her daughters.