Everybody wants to know how the highest-level athletes fuel their bodies for elite competition. What are their go-to foods? Which diets do they rely on for max performance? How do they strategically break up their day? In Eat Like a Champion, a recurring franchise, we give you the inside scoop on our professional athletes' dietary habits: what they're eating, why they're eating it, and when they're eating it. Follow their lead and fuel like a champion.
“Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food,” the famous Hippocrates, Greek physician of the Age of Pericles, once said.
You have to imagine that Hippocrates would have enjoyed a discussion with Myriam Boisset, a longtime professional adventure racer, Spartan Pro, and 2019 Spartan European champion, who has been a fruitarian for a decade.
About As Unprocessed As Food Gets
Specifically, Boisset’s diet is limited to raw fruit (lots of it), seawater, and a little bit of lemon juice. Channeled from raw food experts and authors Douglas Graham and Robert Morse, Boisset’s philosophy is intertwined with her nutrition in such a way that (you have to think) Hippocrates would approve of.
Myriam and her husband, Jacky Boisset, have been pro athletes for 15 years, making a living on their race winnings.
“We very quickly understood that the body is our working tool and that we had to take special care of it if we wanted to keep our lifestyle, which for us means traveling, winning races, and not being injured," Boisset says. "This is why we turned to a live, raw, and mainly fruit diet.”
A Natural Extension
Boisset says that the shift to a raw food diet was not overly difficult for her, in part because of her upbringing.
“Coming from a family with access to natural care, I have never really adhered to food supplements such as omega threes, BCAAs (or branched-chain amino acids), L-carnitine, and such," she says. "I had wanted early on to satisfy myself only through my food.”
The Boissets had been following a more traditional athlete diet when they changed over to a mostly raw fruit diet. The effects, Myriam recounts, were dramatic, and in perfect keeping with words of Hippocrates.
“The changes were magical,” Boisset says. “No more tendonitis, better recovery, better sleep, no more asthma, recovery of our vision, and injuries like broken bones or sprains repaired much faster, with less stress. We were much happier.”
Yes, the Boissets report that after becoming fruitarians, they ultimately didn’t need their glasses anymore.
“Our bodies have got all the power and intelligence to be more healthy," she says. "[The human species] is the only animal to wear glasses. My husband needed glasses before we changed our diets and now? No, we don’t need them.”
Harnessing the Mysteries of the Human Body
When we talk about nutrition, so much of the focus is on macronutrient ratios (like keto versus Zone versus high-carb) and what a definition like “paleolithic” eating really means, that we often tend to marginalize the powers of human metabolism and the body.
“The sophisticated metabolic system that sustains us, and that we all take for granted, is a marvel of evolution,” Herman Pontzer, Ph.D. and associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University and author of the book, Burn, says. “It took nearly a billion years — and untold trillions of generations, quadrillions of false starts and dead ends — for the basic framework of today’s simplest single-cell metabolic systems to evolve on this planet."
Add another two billion years for multi-celled organisms to evolve, and keep this all in mind when you consider mitochondria, the so-called powerhouse of the cell, that — according to Pontzer — “have their own DNA and their own two-billion year evolutionary history, including saving all life on Earth from certain doom.”
That’s just the beginning, of course (or the awesome orchestration of metabolism). So when you think about the magic that Boisset speaks of in eating only fruit and all of the nutrients and micronutrients within, remember that there are also mysteries like the microbiome — the trillions of bacteria in your gut that enable the miracle of digestion.
Magic seems like a good word.
Sharing Her Story
As you can imagine, Boisset gets many questions about what her nutrition is like and what sort of advice she has for others. She welcomes the questions.
“Many people ask us if we will change our nutrition after we finish our sports careers,” Boisset says. “Nope. This is a real lifestyle. It’s why we created the Health Center in Tenerife: We want to share this with people because it’s real and it’s amazing. Our natural diet can change your life."
Boisset understands the tremendous amount of competing points of view on nutrition, along with the social pressure that can come with it.
“I can understand how people can be lost," she says. "With my husband, our vision is global and our goal is to get back our freedom, to be as autonomous about our health as a wild animal.”
Advice for the Interested
So if there’s one thing that you could do to try out the Boisset way, what would it be?
“The easiest and fastest healthful effect for all kinds of athletes will be to add sea water in their life,” she says. “From my perspective, the most important thing to be healthy and perform well is to have minerals in your diet. The problem with today's typical diet is that it's cooked so low in minerals.”
Seawater, Boisset says, contains all of the minerals available on the planet.
“These minerals are isotonically consumed in the same proportions as our plasma," she says. "And since seawater is alive — thanks to phytoplankton — minerals are bio-assimilated because of their electrical charges.”
Morning: A Dry Fast
A typical day for Boisset starts with what she calls a dry fast.
“I do intermittent dry fasting — without drinking anything — and then I have four-to-six hours where I have a window to eat,” she says.
Afternoon: The Eating Window
This includes a big glass (about 400 milliliters) of:
— ¼ seawater
— ¼ lemon juice
— ½ water
Boisset drinks this down at about 1 or 2 p.m. to break the fast.
Lunch: Juicy Fruit
— A single “juicy” fruit, which can be oranges, mandarins, watermelon, papaya, or melon
“Mostly I’m choosing a single fruit to eat," she says. "I eat until I’m full. Usually this is around a kilo and a half of fruit.”
Later Afternoon: More Fruit
— More fruit, chosen depending on what’s in season
Boisset eats this additional meal of fruit — another 1.5 kilograms or so — when she’s hungry again, usually around 4 to 5 p.m.
“After long or hard training, I love to drink a juice with sea water," Boisset says. "But during training, I'm normally taking nothing. If it's really long training like a long bike ride, I will have fresh fruits after.”
Sunset: The Window Closes
“I don’t like to eat after the sunset,” Boisset says, describing how she times the bracket on her intermittent fast. “So this is my diet plan — very simple! I don’t take any supplements, any medications, and I don’t eat nuts.”