Leigh Howard is a professional racing cyclist with team Orica-GreenEDGE. The young Australian is currently based in Spain where he travels the world racing both road and track. He is a world champion having won world tittles in the omnium, team pursuit and madison. The 22-year-old has also tasted success in several race stages and tours in his young but promising career and aims to start a Tour de France in the next few years.
What does health and wellbeing mean to you?
Health and wellbeing is one of the most important things in life for me as a professional athlete. The understanding of how to eat well and live a healthy lifestyle is the first step to actually ‘doing’ it. The next step and hardest part for me, is to actually ‘do’ it. With so many unhealthy foods and bad habits in our world today, the temptations to live a bad lifestyle are limitless. As I have grown older, I have learnt to deal with these temptations better and my body is a lot better for it, and with this has produced better results in my sports.
Describe your diet –
To describe the diet of a professional sports person like myself is very difficult because it can vary immensely from day to day depending on your work/training load is. During a heavy training faze or competition when recovery is the most important thing, my diet includes a high amount of carbohydrates (usually derived from pasta, rice bread ect) also proteins (usually from eggs, isolate protein powders and chicken) and mixed in with these ‘main’ products are vegetables and added vitamins and amino acids. During a training period where training is important, but I might be trying to shed an extra couple of kilos, I generally add more protein and take out some of the carbohydrates. I like to keep snacking throughout the day to keep my metabolism going, but it might be as simple as a few rice crackers or a small salad.
What does a typical day on a plate look for you?
On a typical day of training my ‘plate’ will be an omelet and a small bowl of cereal for breakfast. A protein bar and a couple of small muesli bars while training. A protein/recovery shake after training. A salad or sandwich in the afternoon. Then a normal meal at night, which always includes the essentials.
Leigh in action in France
Photo: Graham Watson
Your signature dish is –
Salmon with mashed potato, asparagus and poached egg on top, with a topping of chopped red onion, avocado, cherry tomatoes, oil and salt and pepper.
Your last meal would be?
Chicken Parmi with chips!
How do you stay healthy whilst travelling?
Sometimes I pre-prepare food, but usually I just try and stay clear of bad foods and stick with café’s that serve fresh foods and fruit salads.
Describe your fitness routine –
As a professional athlete, my fitness routine is 7 days a week. It can include sometimes upwards of 30hrs (1000+km) a week ‘ON’ the bike for training, plus core exercises, stretching, massage and a whole heap of other little things to keep my body in tip top shape.
What’s one thing you would change about your current lifestyle of diet?
I have a major sweet tooth that I wish I didn’t have! Makes eating healthy very hard sometimes.
Favourite way to unwind?
Playing Golf or Training to do my helicopter license when I return to Australia.
Who do you admire?
Chris Judd. He is not only a great athlete and very naturally talented, but he also does all the 1% things on the side that make him an absolute superstar!
What’s next for you?
My next race is the Criterium du Dauphine Libere, which is a big race in France. I hope I can get my first win for the year!
Crunchy or smooth peanut (or any nut butter)?
Check out this video where Leigh shows the various types of food, provided by PowerBar or cooked up by team staff, GreenEDGE eats on race day — before, during and after the race. http://www.greenedgecycling.com/media-gallery/detail/376/131
You can also find out more about Leigh and his races via his website http://leighhoward.com.au/ or his twitter http://twitter.com/#!/leighhoward1
Eat well and be well.