Dave Brailsford sets out in detail how he’s lost 3kgs in 3 weeks

Posted on: November 2nd, 2018

Dave Brailsford has detailed the weight loss regime – training and diet – that he followed in October.


Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford has been one of the most unpopular men, for some, in pro cycling in recent years because of all the controversies the squad has been through.

While he has espoused a zero-tolerance policy on doping and said the purpose of his team was to show the biggest races could be won clean, his and Team Sky’s reputation has taken a battering.

They have had no positive dope tests. But more than a few eyebrows were raised when details of Bradley Wiggins’s TUEs emerged two years ago, even though Wiggins broke no rules.

And while Chris Froome was cleared in his salbutamol – asthma drug – case, it was hugely controversial.

Brailsford hasn’t always helped himself; often adopting an aggressive stance in the media when a more conciliatory approach would have been wiser.

However, the team has an incredible record of winning races. And now Brailsford has set out on Strava how he is training and trying to lose weight. It’s testimony that will interest many riders.

He outlined how he was following a ketogenic diet for the month of October with a view to losing weight.

Dave Brailsford (54) has also been out on his bike and he’s been in the gym. And that exercise regime combined with his diet resulted in a 3kg weight loss in the first three weeks of October.

We’re still waiting on an update for how the final week went and what the overall month-long weight loss was. But let’s have a look at what he’s said.


First things first; what is a ketogenic diet?

In a nutshell, a ketogenic diet comprises a mix of high-fat, adequate protein and low carb foods. He has also restricted his food intake to the hours of 11am to 8pm daily.

And that means fasted – short and low intensity – morning rides. Let’s wave a red flag around this one; fasted rides should not be done by young riders at all.

And they should only be done by older cyclists in consultation with a coach. Fasting and going out cycling based on a hunch about how it might work, or simply taking a chance everything will be OK, is for the deluded.

Do not do it. You will regret it and it will be unhealthy.

Fasted riding should only be done in controlled circumstances, based on expert advice in the context of a wider training, recovery and nutrition regime.

Brailsford himself says he only did the ketogenic diet for a month. And only eating after 11am was also a temporary month-long experiment.

Brailsford opened up in the first of a series of detailed replies to other Strava users when one asked if he was still not eating cake.

“Nope, stopped eating carbs and intermittent fasting for October,” he replied in the first message.

“So basically, a high fat, moderate protein and very low carb diet (ketogenic) for a month. And only eating between 11am and 8pm and fasting for the rest of the time. “

He added there was lots of research going on into this area at present. He felt the only way to get to know it properly was to try it.

So that meant he’d follow the diet for all of October, during which people (and because of the diet) he would only do low intensity riders.

“I’ve only eaten carbs from veg and had two bananas the rest of the time,” he said when asked was he still on the programme.

“I stuck to fat and protein only and only eat between 11am and 8om. I lost 3kgs, but I’ve started back in the gym for the winter.

“So, I will switch my diet around to a higher protein and reintroduce a small amount of carbs pre and post training. Yes, I’m still off the cake and (only doing) low intensity rides with torque for now,” he said.

Torque involves pushing bugger gears at a low RPM rate, but not straying outside the low intensity mode of riding. Torque is aimed at building power.

He then went into great detail about the ketogenic diet and his training while on it.

“Generally, ‘low carb’ involves restricting carbohydrates and fuelling from protein and fats,” he said.

“For many years the established thinking has been that carbohydrates provide the body with the best source of glycogen which is used to fuel the muscles at higher workloads. That is, in relatively moderate-to-hard racing and training.

“Once our glycogen stores held in the muscles and liver are burned up then we tend to blow and have to go slower, at which point the body can use fat as a fuel but only at low intensity riding.

“I’m sure we’ve all experienced that at one time or another. Anyway, there has been a growing trend of restricting the carbohydrates in some training sessions.

“The belief is that riding with low glycogen stores not only promotes the burning of fat but also that it can train the body to use fat as a fuel more efficiently and therefor ‘spare’ the limited glycogen stores for longer.

“For most races (that is) towards the end when the speed and intensity is normally at its highest.

“Also, in general outside of sport, there has been an increasing trend to try to reduce the total amount and frequency of digesting carbohydrates.

“This is mainly due to the fact that carbs trigger the hormone insulin which, when the body’s ability to regulate insulin properly is reduced, leads to the onset of diabetes.

“This very simply means eating no grains, bread, pasta, rice, sugary products, starchy veg like potatoes and cutting out fruit.

“Of course for a young healthy active individual the best solution seems to be to eat moderate carbs, protein normally then fuel high carb prior to hard intensity training days or races and then use low carbs fuelling for days when it’s a slower more general type of riding day.

“So a good low carb breakfast would be scrambled eggs or omelette with a small portion of avocado and 100g of smoked salmon. This would be mainly a protein and fat meal.

“Many riders will wake up and have a black coffee and ride totally fasted also. But realistically you can only ride slowly or moderately and if you’re doing a longer ride then you’d start fuelling with carbs after 1½-2 hours.

“My view is that the best approach is to have clear phases or blocks where we focus on one or more goals and we adopt different training and nutritional strategies to best target that particular goal.

“Then assess and move on to the next goal. It seems that many people try to have one approach and try to stick to that approach.

“I think that’s ok but to improve and be more in tune with how our minds work then it’s better to have a plan which changes and develops over different parts of the season or year.

“Will power doesn’t work. We aren’t wired up to be able to use will power alone. But we can be disciplined.

“And a great way to get disciplined is to use the age-old approach of figuring out clear goals then, most importantly, to have a clear action plan of how we can get from A to B and figure out both what needs to be done and the real sacrifices and commitment needed to achieve it.

“Then make a clear decision as to whether you are disciplined enough to make the sacrifices and have plans in place for when you crack.

“When I get really off track I always try to sit and think about the thought of ‘make the sacrifices – it’s worth it’.

“Also a lot of people seem to think that others who perform well have something that they haven’t got – in reality it’s simply that they were willing to do something that we weren’t – so go do it.”