The Feed Zone

The Inspiration for The Feed Zone Cookbook

When Dr. Allen Lim left the lab to work with pro cyclists, he found a peloton weary of food. For years the sport’s elite athletes had been underperforming on bland fare and processed bars and gels. Science held few easy answers for nutrition in the real world, where hungry athletes must buy ingredients; make meals; and enjoy eating before, during, and after each workout, day after day.

So Lim set out to make eating delicious and practical. His journey began with his mom, took him inside the kitchens of the Tour de France, and delivered him to a dinner party where he met celebrated chef Biju Thomas.

The Feed Zone Cookbook inside the kitchenWhat made you realize you needed a cookbook for athletes?

Allen: On my first night in Europe, I watched one of the athletes I was coaching pour a bowl of cereal for dinner, and I knew we all had to do better. I needed to teach the athletes simple, practical recipes. In some cases I need to teach them how to shop for food, how to chop vegetables, or how to literally fry an egg.

How did you get started?

I wasn’t doing much better with my own diet. I’d spent most of the previous decade eating my meals over the kitchen sink, in front of my computer, or while walking across campus — behavior that was perfectly normal for a “starving” graduate student. So I called my mom. Pen and paper in hand, I bombarded her with questions. What was that thing wrapped in bamboo leaves that we used to eat when I was a kid? What ingredients do I need for that noodle dish? How did you make that amazing curry? And what were those rice cake desserts we use to pick up at the bakery in China Town?

Allen Lim making foodEuro pros eating Chinese at a race? How’d that go over?

I put a rice cooker in the team bus one day to replace baguettes with fresh rice after races. For many soigneurs, cooks, and especially the team bus driver, this was blasphemy. I was subjected to a load of racial slurs for my disruptive ways, but it was well worth it. The riders appreciated and thrived on the change. I started asking them as many questions as they asked me and we began teaching each other.

Allen Lim and rice cookerI later spent an entire season scouring obscure Asian markets in Europe for the best rice cookers available on the continent, securing a few of them for the team I was working with, and converting the riders to a predominantly rice-based diet. My triumph was short-lived. The guys returned to the bus following their first race of the next season only to learn that my precious equipment had deliberately been left at the service course. As consolation, they were offered microwavable rice that came conveniently packaged in plastic bags. The ensuing series of confrontations between hungry riders and team personnel were gruesome. By the next race, one rider brought his own personal rice cooker onto the bus. Even that rice cooker was later confiscated as rogue “non-sponsor-issued contraband.”

The moral of the story is that it’s difficult to change old habits, foolish as they may be.

The Feed Zone Cookbook inside the kitchenEnter Chef Biju?

Right. Having someone cook for you or fighting over what someone cooks for you is very different than having the know-how and motivation to cook for yourself. For me, the knowledge and motivation came after I met Biju. Biju was catering a dinner party for Jonathan Vaughters. His meal was incredible! Not just delicious but profoundly simple and nourishing. I immediately began talking to Biju about his cooking style, about food, and about helping me make great nutrition through great meals more accessible for the athletes I coached.

Allen Lim Biju Thomas Levi Leipheimer

Allen, Biju, Levi

Biju and I quickly became friends through the process. Not only did we share a common love of food and cycling, we had similar upbringings. We both immigrated to and were raised in the United States, we both grew up riding and racing bikes, and we were both caught between incredibly diverse food cultures that ran the gamut from ethnic street food to over-the-top family gatherings that featured recipes from India, where Biju is from, or from China and the Philippines, where my family is from. We took our conversations about diet and nutrition a step further; instead of talking with athletes about food theory, we began actually cooking with them, not just cooking for them.

The Feed Zone Cookbook is a manifestation of countless conversations, endless days on the road in hotel kitchens, race meals made in cramped motor homes, and the often comical times cooking with our very close friends, many of whom just happen to be some of the best professional cyclists in the world. This book is a reference for athletes looking for no-nonsense, race-proven ideas.

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The Feed Zone Cookbook cover image 250pw

Pro Athletes Praise Allen Lim, Biju Thomas, and The Feed Zone Cookbook

The Feed Zone Cookbook cover image 250pw“Not only did Biju and Allen help salvage a disastrous start to my 2011 season and turn it into one of my best, they actually got me into the kitchen, cooking these recipes.” Levi Leipheimer, professional cyclist for the Radioshack Pro Cycling Team, from his foreword to The Feed Zone Cookbook

The Feed Zone Cookbook is full of recipes from Allen and Biju that epitomize the athlete’s two greatest purposes in sitting down for a meal: to optimize performance and to maximize the pleasure that comes from eating.” Timmy Duggan, professional cyclist for the Liquigas-Cannondale Pro Cycling Team, from his foreword to The Feed Zone Cookbook

“Biju makes cooking high-quality, nourishing food easy. His recipes are mind-blowingly simply, but their flavors and quality are as high as a five-star restaurant. Biju will inspire you to want to cook.” Matthew Busche, professional cyclist for the Radioshack Pro Cycling Team and U.S. national road cycling champion

“Allen Lim has helped me fill my gas tank for many years: everything from breakfast burritos in Georgia to rice cakes and scrambled eggs in the Alps. Some of Lim’s foods are scientific and others just feel good, but one ingredient was always present: passion from the Asian Equation.” — Christian Vande Velde, professional cyclist for Team Garmin-Cervélo

“If sport is your thing, the intro alone is worth the purchase of this book, as Allen shares complex diet theory in layman’s terms for all  to comprehend. One can totally rediscover the kitchen as a performance-enhancing yet delicious tool.” — Peter Stetina, professional cyclist for Team Garmin-Barracuda

The Feed Zone Cookbook is not just a cookbook; it’s a lesson about food. Allen and Biju teach you how to eat, when to eat, and what quality ingredients to use to make you feel better in training, racing and just life in general. This book has become a staple in my daily cooking.” — Kristen Peterson, professional triathlete

The Feed Zone Cookbook is a dream come true! I’m on the go non-stop coaching athletes, teaching classes, and training and racing, so Allen and Biju’s high-quality meals and snacks help me perform my best and keep me from crashing. The Feed Zone Cookbook shows you how you should be eating.” — Tawnee Prazak, MS, CSCS, elite triathlete and certified triathlon coach

“Allen Lim has been an inspiration for the way I eat since I became a pro cyclist… Chef Biju has shown me how simple it is to prepare good, quality food despite the hectic lifestyle of a pro athlete. Together they have found a way to simplify that art of eating right for athletes without gimmicks or hard-to-follow recipes.”Lucas Euser, professional cyclist for Team SpiderTech and member of the 2008 USA National Team

“When Allen and Biju rolled up in their RV to prepare healthy and simply foods [at the Tour of California], it was exactly what we needed. The food they prepared was a game changer.” Jason McCartney, professional cyclist for the Radioshack Pro Cycling Team and two-time U.S. national time trial champion 

“Anyone can train when things are going well, but only a true champion can train when everything is going wrong. Similarly, eating healthy isn’t always easy, but a healthy diet is fundamental to peak performance. The Feed Zone Cookbook will help you eat right.” Ian D. MacGregor, former professional cyclist for Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth

“I wish Biju had cooked for me all those years I raced because it would have made me faster!” — Axel Merckx, former professional cyclist, Olympic medalist, and Belgian national champion

“There are two important forces at work here. An elegantly simple, practical application of macro- and micronutrients, and how they are used by our bodies. This is the wizardry of Dr. Lim. Chef Biju [contributes] romantic notions of taste; the use of our most familiar, simple ingredients; and a measured, sure-handed confidence in the kitchen. These elements are all brought together in a whirling, laughing, steaming, sizzling crescendo of an athlete’s most favorite thing: food.” — Jason Donald, former professional cyclist for Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth

“Biju is a self-taught chef who now works closely with Team RadioShack. He has spent the majority of his life preparing simple, yet highly nutritious food fit for the most demanding sport in the world. After flipping through a few pages of The Feed Zone Cookbook, it became apparent that just putting some thought into your next meal is all that is needed. [The book requires] no fancy ingredients or expensive products; you don’t even need a lot of time. Not only will you start to see huge improvements with your workouts on the bike, you’ll even improve your mood all around.  After all, you are what you eat.” — Craig Lewis for NBC Sports

FZC The Feed Zone Cookbook photoBuy The Feed Zone Cookbook from your local bookstore; bike, tri, or running shop; or from these booksellers:

First, You Must Set the Table…

The Feed Zone Cookbook Table of Contents imageThe Feed Zone Cookbook Table of Contents

Download a web-res pdf of The Feed Zone Cookbook table of contents (600kb pdf).

Foreword by Levi Leipheimer
Foreword by Timmy Duggan

Introduction by Allen Lim

Breakfast
Portables
Apres
Dinner
Desserts
Basics

Appendixes
Index
Acknowledgments
About the Authors
Credits