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Cutting but not eliminating carbs

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Cutting but not eliminating carbs

Old 05-09-19, 12:39 PM
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Hondo Gravel
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Cutting but not eliminating carbs

Going to cut back on the carbs but nothing crazy. See if this will lower BP somewhat and I won’t be so hungry all the time. 3 straight days on the bike today is chore/rest day plus it is going to pour down rain. Anybody have success with curbing the carbs and how was the effect on bicycling performance?
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Old 05-09-19, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Hondo Gravel View Post
Going to cut back on the carbs but nothing crazy. See if this will lower BP somewhat and I won’t be so hungry all the time. 3 straight days on the bike today is chore/rest day plus it is going to pour down rain. Anybody have success with curbing the carbs and how was the effect on bicycling performance?
Some people find low carb easier to implement than others. You need to analyse your eating patterns and see when you consume the most carbs and figure out a strategy for cutting them down or out. The hardest is when you finish a ride and when you are really hungry. Have something low or no carb handy and ready to go. It may be difficult at first, but if you persist you will find your performance will improve and you will feel much better.
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Old 05-09-19, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Hondo Gravel View Post
Going to cut back on the carbs but nothing crazy. See if this will lower BP somewhat and I won’t be so hungry all the time. 3 straight days on the bike today is chore/rest day plus it is going to pour down rain. Anybody have success with curbing the carbs and how was the effect on bicycling performance?
Worked for me. Went from 300+ g carbs a day to 180g carbs a day, and then eventually cut it down to 100-125g net carbs a day. Lost weight, all my blood numbers went from borderline to good, and am generally able to maintain performance by simply eating higher carb foods before and during hard rides, and staying low carb off the bike.
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Old 05-09-19, 01:17 PM
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I had 285g yesterday but a 3.5 hour ride. I will slowly decrease until I find a good number. Today I’m not riding so I won’t eat too many carbs. Like you said eating most of the carbs right before the bike ride and some in route.
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Old 05-09-19, 01:20 PM
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Rather than cutting carbohydrates, I focused on eating more protein and fat. That helped a lot.
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Old 05-09-19, 02:33 PM
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Are keeping track of total calories also and is that lower overall or are you replacing carbs with other macronutrients?
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Old 05-09-19, 03:58 PM
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I started cutting carbs seriously a couple weeks ago. Last time I did this was about 18 years ago (not riding then), dropped from 275# to 240-ish. Slowly worked down to ~206# over the years, starting cycling again 6 years ago helped. Trying to break thru the 200# level, where I haven't been since 1977. Also trying to address blood pressure, insulin resistance, low grade Type 2 diabetes.

Last weekend I did 54 miles on Sat then 47 on Sun. Sat felt fine. Sunday I felt low energy. Didn't bonk per-se but I had to start on my Clif bar before getting to our coffee stop. That's unusual, sometimes I don't even eat it at all. Could have just been one of those days or could be diet related, don't know without further data.

Last night I went out and did hill repeats. I did 6x, there is a 5x Strava segment, my all time PR is 48:06. Last night I did it in 50:42. 12.5 miles, ~1500'. So off a little bit, but to be expected after a raining winter/spring. I felt a bit hungry but did not bonk or otherwise feel bad.

So more rides will yield more info. Scale this morning read 203.8# BTW.
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Old 05-09-19, 05:02 PM
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No success. I only tried cutting back once, for 2 weeks. First pass climb I tried was horrible. My legs started hurting immediately and I had no power. Horrible day in the saddle. Never did that again. I find weight loss/control very simple: balanced diet with portion control. I know not everyone finds that easy. Well it's not easy but it's simple, works, and allows good performance.

That said, caloso's advice is very good. Many people overeat carbs. Half the plate veggies, carbs the size of your fist, protein size of your palm. Fat's very important for satiety.
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Old 05-09-19, 05:33 PM
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I don't think it's carbs themselves. It's the kind of carbs you are eating. Most of the popular carbs are pretty nutrient deficient. White potatoes, white rice, pasta, etc. are lousy carbs. Sweet potatoes, most beans, fruits and berries are good carbs.

I don't avoid the bad carbs, I just don't make them a major part of my diet for filler. And yes veggies and other non-meat foods comprise most of my plate. I dare say 75% of it. Sometimes 100% is without meat.

Last edited by Iride01; 05-09-19 at 05:37 PM.
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Old 05-09-19, 07:35 PM
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I've eaten 3 donuts today.

So that would be a no for me.
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Old 05-09-19, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
No success. I only tried cutting back once, for 2 weeks. .
To be fair, 2 weeks isn’t long enough to see how your body will respond to any change in your diet.
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Old 05-09-19, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by bbbean View Post
To be fair, 2 weeks isn’t long enough to see how your body will respond to any change in your diet.
Oh, that was plenty long enough for me. I should have tortured myself more? Or quit training and waited for some miraculous change in my body? So far I've never heard of a single low-carb rider kicking butt doing pass climbs in the heat. OTOH if someone is more interested in casual rides, shouldn't be a problem other than the usual problems of poor nutrition.

There's a good nutrition primer here: https://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardio...st-should-know
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Old 05-10-19, 08:56 AM
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no luck also
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Old 05-10-19, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Oh, that was plenty long enough for me. I should have tortured myself more? Or quit training and waited for some miraculous change in my body? So far I've never heard of a single low-carb rider kicking butt doing pass climbs in the heat. OTOH if someone is more interested in casual rides, shouldn't be a problem other than the usual problems of poor nutrition.

There's a good nutrition primer here: https://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardio...st-should-know
https://www.themanual.com/culture/ul...mile-low-carb/
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Old 05-10-19, 10:35 AM
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Between the last two websites linked, I'd trust the one that's not linking me to advertisement to buy their meals and processed stuff. Seems there must be some bias, as well the article about the runner really avoids talking his specifics.
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Old 05-10-19, 10:48 AM
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Eat whole foods with no processed carbs. Vegetables as your main source of carbs with some whole fruit. Add a protein and some fat.

The results will amaze you.
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Old 05-10-19, 12:05 PM
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these things are a life saver. chuck one in the toaster oven for approx 10 min & scarf it down w some salsa on top. it's good before bed too. protein before bed helps you sleep. I always have a pack in the fridge. it's also easy to keep a head of lettuce around, break off a wedge then cut one of these after toasting into fork sized pieces. add grated cheese, olives, artichoke hearts & minimal dressing of choice. instant salad

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Old 05-10-19, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Oh, that was plenty long enough for me. I should have tortured myself more?
If you were torturing yourself, maybe you weren't taking a well balanced approach to cutting carbs. The OP asked about cutting down on carbs, he didn't say anything about going on a draconian torture diet. I opined that whatever you did, you were going to need to give your body longer than two weeks to adapt and really see how it was going to impact your weight, health, and/or performance.

Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
...Or quit training and waited for some miraculous change in my body?
Was this a suggestion? Did I miss a post?


Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
So far I've never heard of a single low-carb rider kicking butt doing pass climbs in the heat.
I remember reading about some Kenyan named Froome who managed to do OK on a few climbs around France and Italy.

Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
OTOH if someone is more interested in casual rides, shouldn't be a problem other than the usual problems of poor nutrition.

There's a good nutrition primer here: https://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardio...st-should-know
I'm not sure what the reference to poor nutrition was about.
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Old 05-10-19, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by bbbean View Post
If you were torturing yourself, maybe you weren't taking a well balanced approach to cutting carbs. The OP asked about cutting down on carbs, he didn't say anything about going on a draconian torture diet. I opined that whatever you did, you were going to need to give your body longer than two weeks to adapt and really see how it was going to impact your weight, health, and/or performance.

Was this a suggestion? Did I miss a post?

I remember reading about some Kenyan named Froome who managed to do OK on a few climbs around France and Italy.

I'm not sure what the reference to poor nutrition was about.
I merely reduced carbs, exactly the OP. That meant I didn't have my normal recovery carbs, nor my normal 400 carb-calorie breakfasts, no fruit juice with lunch, smaller carb portions at dinner. Over 2 weeks, that was enough to leave me with insufficient glycogen, both liver and muscle, to do a pass climb, especially on the tandem. It's a climb I do every year and will do again on the tandem in 2 weeks, first pass of the year. My assessment was that it negatively impacted my performance. My weight and health have never been issues.

The low-carber BS that Froome rode low-carb is in fact, just that. Here's what the head of nutrition at Team Sky had to say:
That's reduced carbs 2 days/week when doing base. That's not low-carb. And 400g of rice for breakfast? Phenomenal.

In fact, Froome did pretty normal base training. Team Sky uses a high-carb beverage of maltodextrin and sucrose which allows him to process up to 360 calories/hour, also phenomenal. I base train too, and can comfortably ride for ~3 hours without eating or drinking anything as long as it's not too warm. Lance could ride for 6 hours on only water.

"Poor nutrition" referred to common low-carb strategies which vary from the cardiologist's nutrition ideas in the link I posted. Like drinking a cup of cream for breakfast, replacing carbs with meat and saturated fats, that kind of thing, the stuff low-carb posters on BF brag about along with their low cholesterol numbers.
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Old 05-10-19, 04:54 PM
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The question is why cut carbs and not some other macronutrient ??...What is your goal, what do you plan on achieving by cutting carbs ??
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Old 05-10-19, 05:33 PM
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For me low carbs food works very well. Especially low on "fast" carbs, they are excluded for the most part. Plenty of protein and fat.
However, I do eat fast carbs during long rides - e.g Clif bars, bagels etc. After rides - high protein food for recovery.

What I found to be the most important is to not cut carbs (and calorie intake in general) too much, so that you'll start loosing weight fast. The consequences are pretty much what Carbonfiberboy describes: drastic loss of power and high power endurance. Basically, you'll still be able to ride all day long, no problem here, but all climbing will suddenly become so much more difficult, slower and more painful; maintaining high speed will become impossible after few seconds etc. - everything that will require high intensity efforts will suffer. A lot.

PS. About the results. Reducing fast carbs intake reduces appetite, so helps to maintain food intake under control. From 235 lb got down to 160 lb. Never felt so good in my life.

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Old 05-10-19, 07:21 PM
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About two years ago a friend my age developed type 2 diabetes with some complications like cataracts and ED. It got me thinking about my own eating habits which were high carb and probably bordering on insulin resistance territory. Even though I do long distance endurance pursuits I struggled with weight loss. Being a vegetarian I do not have access to easy protein snacks and would default to carbs (loved breads) as a result. When tracking my intake (which is a really good idea) I found:

Breakfast: coffee with sugar x 2, toast or granola.
Break: coffee with sugar, carb type snack
Lunch: coffee with sugar, bread type sandwich and fruit
Break: carb type snack
Dinner: large carb component to compensate for lack of meat
Snack: carb

Looking at that I saw that I was constantly dosing myself with sugar or quick carbs so that my body never had a chance to access and use the stored energy (fat) that I wanted to lose. Even restricting intake didn't help because my body would go to those easy to convert fuels first. I bounced up and down in the 220's

At Xmas 2017 I cut out sugar which wasn't really hard once I got over coffee without it. I don't really have a sweet tooth and beyond that it was mostly habit. That also cut out a lot of office free food snacks like buns, cookies chocolates etc... I still occasionally eat dark chocolate (70% cocoa) which I like.

In Feb 2018, for a fun food challenge that I do each year, I decided to eat only eggs and spinach for a month just to see if I could do it. I know, sounds crazy, but I like to use myself as an experimental lab. Previously I have done a similar veggie burger challenge and a raw non processed food challenge. I had not heard of Keto nor did I intend to do keto but the egg challenge just happened to be a near perfect replica of it with protein/fat and no carbs.

I succeeded and ate 354 eggs (13/day). By the end of that experiment I had lost 35 pounds and had some electrolyte issues that I resolved with pottassium and magnesium supplements. While I experienced no hunger pangs I found by the end I lacked energy and was very decisive about how I expended what energy I had. I could not do a lot of endurance activities.

After that I have maintained a more moderate higher protein / lower carb diet and avoid refined carbs as much as possible and still no sugar except on rare occasion. For breakfast I have greek yogurt and/or oatmeal, breaks are usually fruit like an apple or banana, lunch is cheese, hummus, vegetables and boiled eggs and dinner is usually tofu and / vegetables with perhaps some whole grain carbs like buckwheat, quinoa or lentils. My energy levels are good and I long distance ride and trail run several times a week as well as bike commute to work.

My weight has stabilized at 190 and I think to make another drop I will have to restrict calories again but I feel very good and no longer get the mid afternoon bonks or hunger pangs. If I am doing a high intensity workout or ride I up my carb intake to match and even do sugars if riding long hours. Fruit leathers or clif bars etc... but try to avoid carb loading post workout or constant dosing on a daily basis.

That has been my somewhat accidental but happy experience in the last couple of years.

Last edited by Happy Feet; 05-10-19 at 07:26 PM.
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Old 05-10-19, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by bbbean View Post
I remember reading about some Kenyan named Froome who managed to do OK on a few climbs around France and Italy.
.
On stage 19 of the Giro Froome ate 1.3kg of carbs. Not sure that qualifies for a low carb diet.
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Old 05-10-19, 11:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Hondo Gravel View Post
Going to cut back on the carbs but nothing crazy. See if this will lower BP somewhat and I won’t be so hungry all the time. 3 straight days on the bike today is chore/rest day plus it is going to pour down rain. Anybody have success with curbing the carbs and how was the effect on bicycling performance?
Average power down 30 to 40 watts depending on the day. Could not get HR above my threshold.

I'm eating a bagel right now.
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Old 05-10-19, 11:32 PM
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Huh. BF apparently won't allow links to FB, so that link was deleted from my post 19. I didn't realize BF would do that because the link appeared in the preview.

Here's the text to which I was trying to link:
Chris Froome has embraced many nutritional strategies during his cycling career, from consuming more Omega-3-rich salmon to repair his muscles, to stoically devouring 400g of energy-boosting rice for breakfast on race days. But one of his most potent weapons is carbohydrate-restricted training – also known as low-carb training, or simply ‘training low.’

By avoiding carb-dense bread or cereals for breakfast, and then performing low- to medium-intensity exercise, Froome cleverly teaches his body to burn more fat for fuel and increase the energy-producing power of his muscle cells, resulting in enhanced stamina and performance. It's a scientific strategy that can help any amateur cyclist or runner who wants to exercise for longer and burn more fat.

“Low-carb training teaches the body to become more efficient at burning fat as a fuel source, as opposed to just using the readily available glycogen (stored energy) in the muscles,” explains Froome, 33, who lives in Monaco with his wife Michelle and children Kellan, 3, and seven-month-old Katie. “There are two benefits. One is obviously weight-loss, as it is important to keep lean for the mountains. But the main side is the adaptation in the body to use fat as a fuel source and not depend entirely on glycogen.”

As with all innovations at Team Sky (soon to be rebranded as Team Ineos), Froome’s focus is on performance. “Training this way means I have more fuel available for the last part of races,” he explains. “If your body is burning glycogen for 5-6 hours, you have to be a superhero to still have energy at the end. You can’t take in enough food to replace what you are burning. But if throughout those 5-6 hours your total energy expenditure was 4,000kJ, and by training this way you ensure, say, a quarter of that energy came from burning fat, not glycogen, that is saving a quarter of pure glycogen in the muscles which I can use to attack at the end of the race.”

Froome is supported in his search for stamina by James Morton, Professor of Exercise Metabolism at Liverpool John Moores University and Head of Nutrition at Team Sky. “The idea of training in carbohydrate-restricted states is to amplify the activation of all the molecular signaling pathways which regulate how our muscles adapt to endurance training,” explains Morton. “In other words, we are trying to make the muscles have more mitochondria (the powerhouses of the cells which use sugar and fats to make energy); to grow more capillaries to supply those muscles with oxygen; and to increase the body’s ability to use fat as a fuel during moderate-intensity exercise.” The result is a higher level of exercise endurance.

Recreational athletes who copy Froome’s methods can expect to burn more fat and enjoy better stamina. “One of the main adaptations that comes with having more mitochondria in your muscles is that you use more fat for a given (exercise) intensity,” explains Morton. “That is good for endurance because fat is a good fuel source, but it also means when you need to go quicker later on, you should have more carbohydrates left. All of these adaptations happen with standard endurance training anyway, but with carbohydrate-restricted training you get more bang for your buck.”

Froome’s slim physique has been critical to his four triumphs in the Tour de France – especially during the brutal mountain stages. The Kenyan-born Brit lost 8.6kg between 2007 and 2015. Morton insists that superior stamina, not weight-loss, is the primary focus of his carb-restricted training, but it does have knock-on effects which help to burn fat. “Weight loss is more about the simple equation of calories in, calories out,” he explains. “Having said that, training low can provide a framework to help you lose weight because if you go for a 5-6 hour ride you have 5-6 hours when you are in a calorie deficit, so you will be burning fat and losing weight over time.”

A key hormonal change also takes place. “You tend to have a higher adrenaline response when you are in a carbohydrate-restricted state. Adrenaline is one of the hormones that regulates fat metabolism, so in a calorie-restricted training ride you will burn more fat.”

There are some golden rules for anyone experimenting with low-carb training, starting with eating the right meals beforehand. Carbohydrate-restricted training is not the same as fasted training, which requires athletes to skip all food before exercise. Froome cuts out starchy carbohydrates before a training session, but not protein and vegetables. “In order for this to work, you have to deplete your glycogen stores first and not have a lot of carbs in your body,” he explains. “So my dinner the night before might be chicken or fish and a few vegetable sources, but not rice, pasta or potatoes. For breakfast I might have an omelette or a yoghurt without any honey.”

Consuming protein ensures your body doesn’t start eating your own muscles for fuel. “Eventually you could start to lose muscle if this type of training was performed for a long time, but consuming protein protects that muscle,” explains Morton. During the training ride itself, Froome tops up with Science in Sport protein gels. Amateur riders can use nut bars or protein balls, too.

Athletes must also perform the right training to elicit the desired fat-burning response. The secret is to focus on long, slow endurance training, at a low intensity, for anything from two to six hours. “We do long endurance rides several times a week so those are perfect opportunities for this,” says Froome. “You are not trying to achieve personal bests or do big intensity sessions. You just go out for a few hours, turning over at a low intensity, so you don’t need a massive fuel source and your body can burn a lot of fat.”

Morton explains that when completing carb-restricted training, you should always exercise below your threshold – which he defines as the highest intensity you could sustain for 20-25 minutes. “When you do higher intensity efforts around or above your threshold, you need to fuel those rides accordingly with carbohydrates,” he says.

Froome typically does carb-restricted training twice a week over winter, and once a week over summer. But without high-carb days, he would lack the energy to complete the high-intensity intervals and power efforts which boost his fitness and race speed. “Some days riders will have high-carbohydrate food to promote training intensity, and some days reduced carbohydrate to promote these endurance adaptations,” explains Morton. “The way we decide this is simply according to the fuel for the work required.”

Carb-restricted training can be challenging at first. “It doesn’t feel good when you are low,” admits Froome. “You tend to be more grumpy than normal. But you know as soon as you eat you will feel better. But you can’t do a full six-hour ride low-carb. You will reach a point where you do need to top up with a banana or something.” However, Morton explains that the more experienced you become at this type of training, the longer you can exercise for. “There is no reason why amateur athletes cannot benefit from this. Probably the biggest mistake amateur athletes make is to over-consume carbohydrates because they are not in tune with the intensities and durations of their training and which rides are actually dependent on carbohydrates – and which are not.”

Froome admits that following a structured diet can be tough, but even elite athletes are occasionally happy to bend the nutritional rules. “Every once in a while, I will go out and have a big meal, or I will have a roast dinner or a steak and chips,” he confesses. “It’s rare – perhaps once or twice a month – but it’s good for the head.”
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