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Tune in to our fourth episode about carbohydrates here. This blog post brings you the key takeaways to learn from and implement to help you achieve your goals! 

Our guests on this week’s podcast are Tao Geoghegan Hart and Professor Louise Burke. Tao is an INEOS Grenadiers cyclist and the 2020 winner of the Giro d’Italia, one of cycling’s toughest races. He is one currently of the world’s biggest talents in cycling. Professor Louise Burke is an expert sports dietitian with almost 40 years of experience educating and counselling elite athletes. Louise was the Australian Olympic Team’s dietitian during the 1996-2012 Summer Olympic Games and was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for her contribution to sports nutrition.  


  1. Underfuelling does more harm than good. There is no question that weight is often discussed in sports like cycling, or that it makes a difference to performance, but eating too little to keep your weight down is not beneficial. Tao has reaped the rewards of fuelling “aggressively” and asserts that the benefits, especially when it comes to intensity, are great. Nutrition makes the difference between winning and losing. Cycling in the mountains in Sicily was so physically challenging that Tao had to top up his fuel with carbohydrates on the go, like an isotonic energy gel, on many of the inclines.
  2. Embrace fuelling at an early age. Young athletes may not hear their role models or prominent athletes on social media talking enough about how important plenty of carbohydrates are, but it is the key to success.
  3. Your brain needs carbs too. Our brains need energy that comes from carbohydrates to function well in all aspects of our lives. It is easier to concentrate and focus when you are well fuelled – the decision-making process suffers when your blood sugar goes down due to a lack of carbohydrates. Fuelling with carbs means you can maintain a consistently high level of performance from start to finish.
  4. What you eat is just as important as how much. Eat carbohydrates from whole foods and avoid over-consuming processed and sugary foods.
  5. Mental strength will take you to the top. To reach the top of your sport, you must be capable of emotionally dealing with setbacks and be prepared to handle challenges. Focus on what you can do to rest and recover and try to enjoy downtime from injury as much as you can. Emotional intelligence is important – this is true no matter how well fuelled you are or how well you train!


  1. Eat more. Both Boxer Carl Frampton and footballer Jordan Nobbs also brought this point up right away in our conversations with them. Echoing Jordan in episode 3, Tao said that it is amazing how much food an athlete can and should eat!
  2. Do not be afraid of carbohydrates. Tao underlined this point by painting a picture of just how full a table of food to feed a cyclist would look in the lead up to a race… It might be hard to imagine that one person could eat this much, but athletes require a lot of fuel to perform well.
  3. Fuel for the work required. This applies to recreational exercisers and elite athletes. Understand what a training session requires and what the goals are, then optimise your amount of fuel and timing of intake.
  4. Maintain a healthy relationship with food. James praised Tao for his balanced attitude towards food. Tao takes his nutrition seriously, but also bakes his own naan bread from scratch and indulges in the occasional jammy Italian biscuit!
  5. There is no one-size-fits-all rule. Just because a diet is easy to follow, does not mean it is good for you. A low-carb, high-fat is easy to implement but does not serve endurance or high-intensity athletes. Using fat as fuel is like driving your car in second gear – to go fast, you need carbohydrates to take you to the fourth gear and above. Sport winning moments are carb-dependent.
Written By

Julia Deufel - content writer and consultant

Julia runs her own marketing consultancy, working with businesses and non-profits in education, nutrition, fitness and the arts. She also teaches a blend of HIIT and Pilates she developed and is an avid indoor cyclist. Julia is an advocate of effective altruism and believes in the power of sport to change lives.