Chris Froome, arguably the best road cyclist on the planet today, is the living proof that proper nutrition is essential. His big weight loss was one of the key factors that helped him change his career from mediocre to a super successful one. And he didn’t stop there, with the help of the marginal gains approach of team Sky, he keeps pushing the limits for cycling nutrition. Let’s look at what he eats!
When Chris Froome turned pro in 2007 he weighed 75,7 kg (167 pounds), but in the first Tour de France he won in 2013 he weighed as little as 65,8 kg (145 pounds). That’s 10 kg (22 pounds) lost for an already fit athlete! Of course, he has exceptional genes, a super-strong team, and the right mind set but that one parameter many cyclists envy is his power-to-weight ratio of 6.25 w/kg, which he achieved thanks to his diet change.
Getting slim with protein
He used to do it the wrong way – he starved himself before big races to lose enough weight. Thanks to suggestions from his wife, he experimented with a diet change, started eating much more protein, and cut back on carbs at certain times. His body responded well, his new weight allowed him to excel at the Tour de France, and he was able to replicate his success multiple times. So, what’s his secret?
— Chris Froome (@chrisfroome) February 9, 2015
It’s a common misconception that pros can eat what they want and burn it off because they train many hours a day. Chris himself confirmed that the reality is he needs to watch every little thing he puts his mouth. In his autobiography, The Climb, he says:
“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.”
Fat adaptation in the off season
Reaching his ideal racing weight was just the first step. Another important change in nutrition came along as a part of the team Sky strategy. James Morton, the current head of nutrition for team Sky, summed up the basics:
“In our research at Liverpool John Moores University, we now know that deliberately restricting carbs around carefully chosen training sessions can actually enhance training adaptations. But then of course we must ensure higher carbohydrate intakes for key training sessions and hard stages in racing. I believe this concept of periodising daily carbohydrate intake is the most exciting part of sports nutrition in the last decade.”
— Chris Froome (@chrisfroome) July 19, 2016
In practice, this means Chris focuses more on protein, and healthy fats in the off-season to teach his body to utilize stored fats for energy. That’s the reason for the eggs, avocado, and salmon breakfasts, or steak and vegetables lunches.
During races like the Tour de France or hard training sessions, he will of course go back to a higher proportion of carbs in his diet to top off his glycogen reserves and perform at his best. It seems that this approach allows him to get the best out of both worlds, he keeps his race weight without starving himself, and he has all the energy he needs for putting out big efforts. There’s not much that can be criticized about Chris’ diet, we can all learn a thing or two from his disciplined and smart approach to nutrition.