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Vuelta a España



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  So, I’ve been getting a lot of questions and comments about my diet.  In the old days, my diet consisted of pretty much anything and everything I wanted!  A couple Cokes, a couple Snickers, breakfast burritos, donuts, Little Debbie Brownies and Swiss Rolls, sandwiches and chips, and fast food for dinner.  It was FANTASTIC!!!!  And for those of you who are laughing, keep in mind I got over 65 victories on that diet...  While other guys were eating pasta, I was happily chowing down on McDonald’s.  For example, in 2004, while riding for the Webcor team, I took a trip over the pond for the Elite World Championships in Verona, Italy.  The hotel was seriously lacking in my customary cuisine, and couldn’t even make up for it with Italian quality, so I was forced to hijack the director’s team car for a trip to good old McDonald’s!  I had a Big Mac, Hamburger, large fries, and a large Coke – of course I was a little disappointed to see that the large Coke looked like a US medium, so I had to make up for the missing calories with a hot fudge sundae...  Kristen Armstrong is still scarred from the “incident” because she had been planning on taking the car to go get some health food or something, only to hear that I had already taken it for a trip to McDonald’s.  She couldn’t believe it when I ended up 8th in the road race the next day, especially since the staff had been placing bets on which lap I would drop out after they had heard about my pre-race meal.  It was a unique diet, but one that has served me well – until now...

  At this year’s Tour of California, I suffered a major crash in stage 3, and I knew I was going to have to take two weeks off of the bike after the race concluded.  I decided it was a good time to try this new fangled “healthy eating” thing...  Of course, I had one last round of donuts for breakfast before the final stage – I mean, what the hell, it was the last day and it had been a LONG week!  My method was to begin counting calories and keeping a daily food diary to see how much I was eating.  The first to go was the fast food – for the most part...  There’s always an occasional special trip to In-n-Out!  In place of the fast food, I added a lot of fruits and a FEW vegetables...  I mean, seriously, let’s not get carried away here – a guy still has to live!  I focused on cutting calories seriously while I was off the bike, but once the training began again, I added a few more sugars back into my diet in the form of Cokes and Snickers to keep up my energy levels while training, but it was still considerably less than before (probably a third of what I had eaten in the past). 

  While training the diet is very manageable, but is more uncomfortable when there is no training...  With several long periods off the bike last season because of injury, I spent a lot of time being uncomfortable, but it paid off, as I am a few pounds lighter and climbing better than ever! 

  The hardest days are the days with no riding, where my calories allowance is reduced to 1500-2000 calories, where in the past I was used to being able to eat at least 3000 – that took some adjustment!  On short days (2 hr rides), I take in about 2500-3000 calories for the day now, whereas in the past, I would have eaten at least a 1000 calories more in the form of Snickers, Cokes, Little Debbies, etc.  On the long training days, the calorie count is much closer to what I was used to in the past, but with a lot of the bad foods being replaced by healthier alternatives.  And thank God for the race day – where the calories are no holds bar and all my favorite foods are back on the table!  I still splurge occasionally to get back to my roots, but in general I’d say I have cut down my weight by getting rid of the worst parts of my old diet (the fast food and sugars) and added more fruits (and some veggies).  There is also a big mental benefit from going out occasionally and splurging a little with a good burger.  Don’t underestimate the power of In-n-Out!!!! 

  Thanks for all of questions and comments – keep 'em coming!  For anyone who needs help with counting calories - check out the "Daily Plate" section of - it is a great resource for a food diary - helps with figuring out how many calories you've eaten as well as how many you have burned.  

  Check back soon for more updates at!

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Reader Comments (32)


While I love to see you racing, I honestly cannot wait until you retire and become the next great race commentator. You are absolutely the next Phil and Paul. Your personality punches off the page and would be fantastic animation to all the great races like the Tour, Paris-Roubaix, Tour of Cali...etc, and so on.

¡Suerte in 2010!


January 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCTodd

Great stuff, good to hear your habits in the past, hey if it works for you then go for it!
Good luck this season, kick some ass.

In bocca al lupo!!

January 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMassimiliano

can't beleive you have reformed mate! you will arrive on the podium more often now that you are carrying less weight, but where was it hiding as you are almost as thin as a poker.
check today he need your vote for the "sports blog" section, pass the word to "the shack guys" and he will shoe it in. i haven't had as hard a year as him but putting up as well would be appreciated.
everyonr is suffering the snow and cold and here i am only looking for 10cm and get a measly 3cm, not even good enough for snowball fights.

don't forget on 17th jan in Adelaide, get the shack team there to support the Cancer causes.

January 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterskippy

Hey Chris, thanks for a real look at your diet.
I always wondered about cyclist diets and how
the super skinny ones found the energy to even pedal.
I guess there's no short cut. Thanks again and
good luck with the season.

January 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristine

I meet you at the Vuelta back in 06 and you where talking mostly about burgers and climbing into a head wind v. a tail wind. Great stuff. Have a winning 2010.

January 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

One of the nasty things about modern diets are the large quantities of High Fructose Corn Syrup found in many foods. The stuff if poison, Google it, I'm just sayin.

January 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFernando castro

On the other side last month I was on a 4 hours MTB race and I think I bonked at the end, even with the gels, bananas and isotonics. Next time I think I will go with some Snickers on my back pocket. :)

January 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlexandre

In N Out??? Oh yeah . My post race favorite, fries and a chocolate shake.

See you there!

January 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMark S.

Hey Mr. Glad to see that you have a website, I have enjoyed reading your articles over the last year when Lance would include them in his tweets. I like your articles because they seem really genuine and so it gives a good perspective to people who are not part of pro bike world and never will be but are interested in the intricacies involved.

May you stay healthy all year and have a great season!

Hard to believe that you got away with eating all of that junk food for so long but darn good story.


January 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHector

I am in love with your website.

January 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSuperfred

Like they say.... "All of our ingredients are delivered fresh to our stores. In fact, we don’t even own a microwave, heat lamp, or freezer."

Quality food

Quality racing

It's what I really like a LOT about both of you.

January 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterveloslave

Come on Chris, gotta be Sonic Drive In.

January 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRick Roof

Thanks for the suggestion about MyPlate - very useful I've been doing Weight Watchers for a year now - am a Lifetime member - but it's still something I have to work at every day! A year ago, I was a major couch potato! Goal is to ride in next year's El Tour de Tucson :) Good luck to you in your upcoming events!

January 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWebsissy63


Great website. It is always enjoyable and interesting to read your writing. I enjoyed the blog you wrote for the paper in Oregon that you linked to through twitter. You have a great way of explaining lots of things cycling fans and cyclists think about. Have a great season with The Shack, people are excited!

Keep the posts coming - you mentioned something in your blog about changing your bike position a few times throughout the year - it would be interesting to hear more about how that process evolves as your season progresses.

One last thing - saw pictures of you riding with another guy and his bike on the back of yours at Cascade to finish the race - you are one good dude.

January 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRoadagent

Very cool, thanks for the candid breakdown of your diet. I guess whatever works for you and makes you happy. Everyone is different so as long as you're feeling good & winning races why not? I'm not a big veggie fan myself, am on the new Kinetix diet (very similar to Weight Watchers), but mainly for iron deficiency and fatigue. However, the BEST part is (like you) I get to splurge twice a week on McD's or Dunkin Donuts (my big weakness). hehe Thanks as always for sharing! Great writing ;)

January 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersmthcriminal

Chris I really enjoy your style of telling a story, keep it up, look forward to following you some more ...and may 2010 be your best season yet.

January 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarck Goran Lorencin

Chris, thanks for the insight on your diet. It would be great if you could develop this into an even more detailed article by giving examples of your daily food intake on training days, racing days and off days. I'd love to know what you guys eat, in what quantities and how many calories you burn at various times throughout the season. I'm looking forward to following your articles throughout the season. Your fans really appreciate the time you put into writing!

January 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

A friend of mine likes to use your famously bad eating habits as an excuse for his. When I started eating as if I raced (very little fat, high protein but not a lot of calories because I do not race) my diet seemed harder for my friends than it was for me. Glad I can now point to this post when the diet argument inevitably comes up.

January 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

I recommend a 100% beer diet.

January 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBoobs

yeah, whenever I get back to SoCal to visit family from my home here in Bellingham WA, I still know where the closest In-and-Out Burger is to all the SoCal airports! (4x4's with onions are truly missed!)

looking forward to seeing you win some stages this year, and I'll try to represent the "Super Domestique" Horner legacy in my group rides here.

grab the gears, turn and burn man!!

January 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJerry Horner

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