Have you ever wondered how elite athletes prepare for the Tour de France? Elite cyclist Lucy Garner is one of the top athletes in the world, and in July she’ll be racing the last stage of the Tour de France (La Course for women). She and renowned registered dietitian Brooke Alpert were kind enough to join me for an interview this week to discuss the importance of probiotics not only for elite athletes, but the rest of us too. Lucy also discussed how she’s training for the big race, too.
Candace Rose: What nutritional preparation does an elite cyclist undertake in advance of a race like the Tour de France?
Lucy Garner: “It’s so important that we keep fueling ourselves. As a sprint I have to make sure that I’m fresh as possible in the end of the race. The day of the race I’ll usually have a big bowl of oats with fruits and then maybe two slices of bread next to it. One hour before the race I’ll make sure that I have a banana or an energy bar. On the bike it’s so important that I keep eating, especially keep drinking, especially now that the sun is coming out and it’s getting hot. You have to stay hydrated on the bike.”
Candace Rose: How do digestive issues impact race training?
Lucy Garner: “It can hugely impact racing. It’s often that we’re away from home and I’m not being able to have the same foods as what I usually have. When I’m away I try to take as much as possible, but if I can’t, then I make sure that I’m taking Culturelle to make sure that I don’t have any problems on the bike because that’s the worst thing that an athlete can have if I’m racing for three or four hours. To have problems like that is not nice to go through.
Brooke Alpert: “Candace, I think it’s also important to realize that you don’t need to be an elite athlete to have to take care of yourself this way. We’re all running our own marathon every day whether it’s looking after children, whether it’s heading to work or finishing that project, and we need to treat ourselves that way. It’s really important to make sure to take that daily probiotic. For Lucy, it’s to be comfortable on the bike, but for us – moms and workers, we don’t get sick days, we don’t get to have a day off. I think it’s really important by taking that probiotic really keeps your immune system really strong, it helps keep digestion problems at bay.
70% of your immune system is based in your gut, and by taking a probiotic, especially one like Culturelle is the best way to support your immune system. Culturelle is the number one most clinically studied brand out there, it’s the number one most recommended by pharmacists, it’s the number one most recommended by pediatricians and it’s why I’m so comfortable recommending it to all of the clients in my practice as well.”
Candace Rose: We’re hearing more and more about probiotics these days. Do you have any advice for those of us who don’t know much about it?
Brooke Alpert: “Absolutely. I like to break it down by talking about what happens in your digestive system. What we’re really finding is that your GI tract or your gut is sort of the hub for all things health and wellness in your body. There’s bacteria in there at all times – there’s good bacteria and bad bacteria. When the good bacteria is more than the bad bacteria, everything is good. Life is good. Whether it’s due to stress, whether it’s due to traveling, whether it’s due to antibiotic use or food choices, that can make the bad bacteria outweigh the good bacteria, and that’s when we start to get rundown. That’s when we get sick, that’s when we get belly aches, that’s when due to a plane ride we’re having digestive woes. If we’re overtraining we can have digestive problems and that’s why it’s really important to take that probiotic daily to keep the good bacteria outnumbering the bad bacteria. The more that we do that, the healthier our gut is, which means the healthier our body is, the healthier our digestive system is – everything from brain health to heart health, everything is really important, so take that daily probiotic.”
Candace Rose: Lucy, as an elite athlete do you have any advice share with women who are committed to other goals that require some level or perseverance and/or endurance?
Lucy Garner: “I think it’s so important to set realistic goals. It’s very easy to set goals which are high and that can’t be reached for years or something like that. It’s very important to set those goals and to achieve them quite quickly. Once you have that sense of achievement it’s onto the next goal. I think that’s very important as an elite athlete, but also life in general.”
Brooke Alpert: “When people come into my practice, when any of my clients come in and they have big giant goals like they want to completely change the way they’re eating or they want to lose 150 pounds, I always make them start small. We need to work on the first 10 pounds, we need to work on the first lifestyle changes you can make. The things I always recommend are – obviously we’re going to take a look at your food, we’re going to make some changes there. We’re going to make sure everyone is well hydrated and then I’m going to make sure everyone is taking their probiotic daily. It’s going to support your immune system, support your digestive tract, it’s going to keep you going and it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself on a regular basis.”
Candace Rose: Lucy, how do you take care of yourself on the road?
Lucy Garner: “I am always away from home, it is very hard to get the foods that I want to. I take in Culturelle, it makes me not worry or think about having problems like that because at the end of the day it can really cause losing the win by having problems in your digestive system.”
Candace Rose: Lucy, how do you stay in shape in the off-season? Is there an off-season?
Lucy Garner: “There is an off-season. I usually race from February until September, and then October I have off. It is that time where you can relax and go on holiday and see family and friends and just do things that you don’t usually do in the season and I also like trying different sports, maybe running. I also keep up the core stability. I think it is important to keep fit, but it’s also a time to relax. I think rest is very important and training obviously is, but I think rest is up there as well. You’ve got to keep rested.”
Candace Rose: Lucy, can you tell us about some of your upcoming projects and races?
Lucy Garner: “I’ve got a busy few months actually coming up now. I will be competing next week in the Women’s Tour which I’m really excited about because it’s in Great Britain. It’s a home race for me, so my family and friends can come there and watch me and support. Also, at the end of July I’ll be racing the last stage of the Tour de France which is La Course for women and will be on the Champs-Elysées. I’m really excited that we get the opportunity to race there and show what we can do as women cyclists.”
Candace Rose: Do either of you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share with us?
Brooke Alpert: “Don’t forget to go to www.Culturelle.com for any of your probiotic questions or how do find it or where it’s located near you. Don’t forget to take care of yourself whether you’re an elite athlete or just whether you’re trying to get through the race of life make sure you take good care of yourself with good nutrition, good hydration and a daily probiotic.”