Why USA Men’s Cycling Coach Greg Henderson Starts the Day with Bone Broth
If you still need a reason to drink bone broth on the regular, here’s a convincing one: road cycling world champion and five-time Olympian Greg Henderson drinks a cup every single day. That’s right: Every. Single. Day.
He drinks bone broth while fasting and packs it in his suitcase when on the road. He drinks it for energy and endurance as well as recovery and healing. And as the newly minted endurance performance director for the USA Men’s Cycling Team, Henderson is now in charge of making sure that his athletes incorporate bone broth into their daily nutrition routine too.
Why should you care about Greg Henderson’s opinion? Because he’s a winner. And when it comes to the best nutrition to fuel an athlete’s body, he has done his research.
How Henderson Got to the Top
Most recently a professional track and road racing cyclist for UnitedHealthcare, the New Zealand native’s career includes winning the 15-kilometre scratch race at the 2004 world championships and the points competition at the 2005 Tour de Georgia for road cycling. He rode in five Olympic Games and completed 11 Grand Tours. He also competed in four Commonwealth Games and was a four-time medallist, including winning gold in the points race in 2002.
Like many pro athletes, Henderson’s career and passion for the sport started when he was a kid. At the age of five he started racing BMX bikes and soon became the national champion in the sport. Determined to be the best, Henderson went to college to earn a degree in sports and physiology to understand how the body works. As a pro athlete, he continued learning by reading new studies on nutrition and picking the brains of sports scientists on his teams.
“I always used to ask why we were doing this and that regarding training,” Henderson said. “I was curious. When it made sense in my brain, I could fully commit to the job at hand. I also knew I would be trying this stuff at home on my own, so where and when to put it place in a training program was very important.”
The one most important thing he learned over the years about nutrition: Less is more.
It’s definitely not rocket science on how to get the body functioning well.
Henderson’s Nutrition Advice: Keep It Simple
While school gave Henderson the basic understanding of physiology and exercise metabolism, his real-world experience as a professional athlete at the highest level for over 20 years made him realize that fads in nutrition come and go, but the basics always work.
And while there’s definitely a lot of physical training that happens on a daily basis, diet is crucial in a sport like cycling—especially at the national level, where cyclists are burning anywhere between 3,000 and 6,000 calories per day for nearly a month on end.
When it comes to athletes’ diets, Henderson adheres to the basics.
“By this I mean if you stick to the typical energy systems that you will use in the coming days and replenish these via real and healthy food, you will go a long way in the sporting world,” he says.
Keep it simple, keep it real. Don’t get caught up in fads.
The Pro Athlete’s Daily Nutrition Routine
Henderson’s daily routine is simple: fast regularly and eat complete, nutrient-dense foods.
Every morning Henderson starts the day with a cup of black coffee and a mug of bone broth, breaking a 16-hour fast. That will last him until lunchtime, when he eats a simple meal high in protein and good carbs. Henderson said he particularly likes Kettle & Fire’s Bone Broth because of the taste and the fact that it’s sourced from grass-fed beef bones that are simmered with organic ingredients.
For his athletes, the routine is similar. Before races, the cyclists are calorie-restricted to drop a pound or two. In order to keep nutritional values high, the team drinks Kettle & Fire Bone Broth, as well as a superfood smoothie for either breakfast or lunch.
When traveling, which Henderson and the team do a lot, the routine stays the same.
“I have been to five Olympics and the key thing I have learned — even though the food hall is the size of two footballs fields — is stick to the food you would eat at home,” Henderson says. “Even bring some essentials from home that are part of your normal routine, like Kettle & Fire.” Pack your suitcase with bone broth, in other words.
How Henderson Uses Bone Broth for Healing
Henderson turns to bone broth for a number of other reasons as well.
When his athletes get injured, bone broth works wonders to help repair broken bones and damaged skin. For his parents, Henderson says a regular bone broth diet has led to less noticeable pain when getting out of bed in the morning.
When he’s traveling, Henderson says bone broth helps heal an ailing stomach—or prevents one in the first place. It’s also cleared up his skin.
With anything, Henderson maintains, the key to success is commitment.
“Focus on the process and not the result,” he said. “If we follow the process, which is like a rollercoaster (highs and lows) but never lose focus on the progress towards the goal, then the results will follow. Respect the process.”