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How To Lose Weight Like A Professional Cyclist With Team Sky’s Head Of Nutrition

October 10, 2019


– Balanced nutrition
forms an integral part of any structured training programme. But can the manipulation
of nutrition alone have an effective impact on your training? Well, to answer that very question, we’re gonna speak to James Morton, Head of Nutrition at Team Sky,
here at the Giro d’Italia. (whooshing) So James, in your role as
Head Nutritionist at Team Sky, how do you use diet in
combination with the coaches and training so riders
can actually lose weight? ‘Cause it is one of the holy
grails of cycling, isn’t it? Is the power to weight ratio, so being as light as they can, but while still maintaining
that optimum power. So, what techniques? – Well, I think it’s
the $64 million question of cycling really. It doesn’t have to be as
complicated as what people think. Ultimately it comes
back to energy balance. So if people want to lose weight, they have to expend more energy
than they actually consume. The difficulty of it is of
course is that these guys are training for six months for the peak event of the season. So it has to be done at the right times, and you can’t lose weight
too quickly, too soon, otherwise you burn out. So it’s more of a gradual approach really. We try and do it over a six month period. We identify the types
of weight loss targets that we want in certain
phases of the season. But of course, the initial conversation involves the coach and the rider, and we have to plan out the
correct times in the season when we’re, or the correct
days in the week actually, down to that level of
where we’re training hard. Or days when the intensity isn’t as high, and you can maybe afford a
calorie deficit on those days. So I guess it’s very much a meal by meal, day by day approach. And we do that every week. – Yeah. – And we’re in dialogue every week to try and make sure that
we’re fueling well for the days that we need to fuel well, and I guess you could call
it deliberately under fueling on the days that you can
deliberately under fuel. And over the course of a seven day period, you build up a calorie deficit. (popping) Every month you’re building
up your calorie deficit, and then slowly but
surely you chip away at it and hopefully you arrive on
day one of your peak race in the best shape of the season. – I’m intrigued, how often
will a rider weigh themselves? I mean, at home. I mean, I know on a grand tour because of dehydration and stuff riders are weighed everyday, because it’s important
to maintain, obviously, a balance especially from
a hydration perspective. Not losing too much weight. But say you’ve identified a rider arbitrarily needs to lose two kilogrammes, would that rider be required
to be weighed every day, or would it be every couple of days? How would you manage that side of things? – Yeah, again, it’s very
individual, specific. I mean, these guys
aren’t robots, you know, they’re human beings as well. And you’ve gotta treat
them like human beings, they’re not robots. So it all really comes back
to those intense periods of the season when we want to do that. And in an intense period, which might be five,
six, seven, eight weeks, it’s not uncommon for
riders to weigh themselves every morning and every night. And in fact, we encourage that. The more times they do it,
then the more that we learn how they’re responding to
the different interventions. But more importantly,
the more that they learn. And once they learn
and they take ownership for it themselves, then
that’s real progress really. – I mean, typically in terms
of the actual diet itself, I guess you’re keeping, I mean, in terms of like the
proteins and carbohydrates, do you increase proteins,
decrease carbohydrates? I mean, what kind or
permutation do you use? I mean, what’s the science
behind the best way to kind of lose weight? ‘Cause there’s so much
conjecture over this particular subject.
– Yeah. Well, I think you’ve hit
the nail on the head there. We’ve been debating this for 20 years. And longer, actually. It was certainly in my career, – Yeah.
– For 20 years or so. But, sports scientists
have been debating this for many decades. I think the research in 2017 is pointing towards a higher protein diet. And perhaps a carbohydrate
restricted diet. Or in fact, a carbohydrate
periodized diet. So we would say consistently
high protein everyday. – Yup.
– You never compromise on the protein.
– Okay. – But what you do manipulate
is energy balance. And the way that you
manipulate energy balance is to manipulate the carbohydrate intake. And so what it really looks like then is that some days you will fuel well with high carbohydrate for
those intensity type days, and other days you will under fuel for those perhaps longer duration,
but lower intensity days. And that’s where you would
restrict the carbohydrate. But the protein always stays the same. And I think most sports
scientists nowadays would agree the benefits
of a high protein diet on weight loss. So, we’d use a lot of
the Science in Sport, the whey protein supplements. The Advanced Isolate Protein,
which we’ll have on the bike. The Overnight Protein, which
we’ll have prior to sleep. We’ve got the Whey 20 product, which is effectively
almost like a protein gel. We’d use that on the bike quite a lot. So I guess when we look at a rider and they might need to
hit, maybe 180g of protein per day, of course we will try
and emphasise that in food. But purely on convenience,
and also quality, because a lot of these
protein products are rich in real key amino acids.
– Sure. – Then we will top up
the daily protein intake with the SIS products. And all of the riders buy into that, I mean they really like those products. And more importantly, they
see the benefits from them. – Now, farther question, if, many of our viewers
watch these videos, you know, are trying to lose weight. It always has been,
always will be, you know, a big topic in cycling. Losing a little bit of weight, getting that bit more
efficient on the bike. So what are two pieces of key advice for somebody watching this,
for them to lose weight safely and effectively? – I think I would aim for a
slow and gradual weight loss. So certainly no more
than one kilo per week. You can lose weight
much quicker than that, but that’s usually where
trouble starts to happen. So I would say slow and gradual. In my mind, and in my experience of research & practice,
the nutritional strategy that facilities that is higher protein than what the general population
are used to consuming. And certainly less carbohydrate than what they’re used to consuming. But make sure that when you
have those key training sessions you consume the carbohydrate. And make sure when it’s race day itself, then obviously you consume it. And I guess the principle
that really brings it all together is this concept of
fuel for the work requited. – Okay. – In other words, if you
have a long, hard day in the saddle, then fuel for it. And if you don’t have a
long, hard day in the saddle, then don’t fuel for it. – Okay. James Morton, thanks very much. Top tips there, thank you. Well some really interesting,
intriguing points there that I know are gonna light
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