Janneke Pieterson combines her passion for nutrition with elite sports. She studied the Master in Coaching and prepares food for professional athletes such as cyclists, judokas, wrestlers and rowers
Janneke Pieterson has managed to combine her two great passions — cooking and sport — and do it at the highest level. It was when she was cooking for the Giant-Alpecin cycling team, now Team Sunweb, for four editions of the Tour de France (20122016), that she saw her professional future clearly: working in nutrition with athletes. In 2014, she also decided to add a new ingredient to her curriculum: the Master in Coaching from the Johan Cruyff Institute.
“I decided to do the Master in Coaching to be able to guide my athletes better. Working with young athletes, you realize that they want to approach their healthy lifestyle seriously, but they often do not know how. The social pressure they have to bear is huge. Judokas and wrestlers — and other sports with weight categories — are the ones for whom it is most difficult. They have to be strong before each competition, but with a minimum energy intake. And they have to be constantly aware of their weight, because each gram counts. Thirteen-year-old children are already facing this battle over weight and it can be very stressful. I wanted to be able to assist these young athletes the best I could, that’s why I decided to do the Master,” explains Janneke.
She also knows the world of cycling and its demands very well. She works with the WM3 women’s cycling team and for four years she was with the Dutch professional team Giant-Alpecin in the Tour de France preparing all their food. “Because top cyclists burn so many calories, the amount of food and carbohydrates they eat is very important. And also proteins, which they need for a good recovery. I made sure they had a varied diet, because the only things these guys do is sleep, cycle and eat. Nobody wants to eat only pasta! So every day I used to vary the vegetables (I would mix 10 different ones each day), and I also varied what they ate on the bus directly after the race: from rice to banana bread, fruit cakes, salads and so on.”
Janneke was alone in the kitchen. “It was pretty tough and I had to improvise a lot,” she says. “Two hours before they got up, I was already in the kitchen baking bread and preparing breakfast, and immediately afterwards, the food for after the race. Now I even have my own workshop in Utrecht, Sportkeuken (Sport Kitchen), where I cook, give advice and do presentations, workshops and coaching sessions with many athletes.”
Janneke also collaborated last year in the preparations for the Rio Olympic Games, “cooking for the Dutch rowers. And this year I’m going to work again with the cycling and rowing teams. I’m also going to start my own studio with special nutrition workshops for athletes. It’ll be great fun and at the same time perfect for team building!”
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