Thursday, July 28, 2016

Low-Carb Athletes: Chris Froome, Tour de France Winner 2013, '15, '16.

I think we're pretty close to putting this whole thing to bed.  Two of the three Hardrock 100 winners are low-carb athletes, and the third, while high-carb, trains fasted for hours on end and can do prodigious feats on stored fat along.  (I haven't done a post yet on any of them!).

Now this.

"Especially the carbs, he's got such a sweet tooth. But he's found now that if he does cut back on carbs the weight does come down a lot easier than it did in the past. And cutting out foods like breakfast cereals and a lot of the wheat products and bread but still eating enough food — the right food — that he is able to not feel hungry during the day. If you look at his build from the 2011 Vuelta compared to now, he's still lean but his muscles look a lot more defined. So now he has found a way of doing it ..."
That's his girlfriend and nutrition advisor.

Here's the athlete:

"In the Vuelta that year (2011), I think my muscles were probably lighter. I was gangly. You wouldn't look at me and say, 'That's someone who's strong.' Whereas now, my diet is a lot more protein based. I've cut back on carbs completely but I'm not losing muscle."

Yeah, that is how it works.

"I think hard about the quality of the food I'm eating – organic fruit, vegetables and meat wherever possible. It's a common misconception that because we're training five or six hours a day that we can eat what we want and burn it off. It really is a case of watching every little thing you put in your mouth and how it's going to benefit you. Your body really does respond to tweaks then."

Paul Jaminet would approve of this:

"I try to go very light in terms of diet. In the mornings I limit myself to just the one bowl of porridge, and normally a two-egg omelette, with no hint of extras on the side. No second helpings, no picking, nothing. If there is a big stage ahead that day I'll try a three-egg omelette, but warily, and I'll mix a small amount of white rice into the porridge ..."

So he's not no-carb, but he's pretty explicitly low-carb.

The incomprehension of this feat in the press is simply priceless.  I found this article, "This is what you have to eat to compete in the Tour de France", which states:

"09:00 Breakfast 
"Riders have their breakfast around three hours before the race — carbohydrate-rich foods like bread, muesli, cereal, fruit, coffee, smoothies, orange juice and even noodles help top up glycogen stores. 
"“One thing all riders avoid is eating heavy food,” says Judith Haudum, sports nutritionist to the BMC Racing team
"“They have to resist the enticing pastries from the hotel breakfast bar because this type of food isn’t fully digested in time for the start, making riders’ stomachs feel uncomfortably heavy.” 
10:30 Pre-race snack 
"Transfers from hotels to stage starts can be long, offering an opportunity to top up carbohydrate and calories — typically, rice cakes with honey, raisin bread or a sports bar are consumed with fluid."

No mention of Chris Froome, who won the race last year and again this year. We saw what he's eating above.  Is a three-egg omelete "heavy"?

Breakfast of champions
Here's his breakfast on a recovery day:

"The carbohydrates in the avocado (which contains about 320 calories) provide him with a source of quick energy, while the hefty amount of protein and fat in the eggs (70 calories each), avocado, and fish (100 calories for 3 ounces) helps fuel muscles and slow the breakdown of food in the body. 
"That helps steady energy levels and stave off hunger pangs. Plus, since the eggs are poached and the fish is smoked, they have no added fats or oils.
"As an added energy boost, Froome has a sachet of cherry-juice concentrate, 2 tablespoons of which would give him about 18 grams of carbohydrates and about 70 calories."
"Carbohydrates in the avocado"!?!  An avocado contains 17 grams of carbs, and a lot of that is fiber, which enters the bloodstream as fat, not glucose.  I'd be surprised if there are more than a few grams of digestible carbs in an avocado.  So that puts him at 20-30 grams of carbs for breakfast, a far, far cry from what's "required"!

I can't tell you how many times I've heard that a low-carb athlete could never win the Tour. "Once is an accident. Twice is coincidence. Three times is an enemy action."  The enemy in this case is coming to obliterate the carbs-are-needed-for-performance baloney we've been sold for decades.

The other thing I always hear is that low-carb doesn't improve performance.  It pretty clearly improved Chris Froome's performance!

"After Chris Froome cut back on carbs for more protein, he lost 20 pounds, started winning the Tour de France, and became a millionaire"

Your results may vary.

Via the excellent Diet Doctor.


  1. Good stuff, Tuck. However, you seem to be laboring under the assumption that data and facts will make people stop believing B.S. about how "vital" high-carbs are. You know that ain't true!