Pierrejean ?French Diet

As I work in cardiology, I have an interest in preventative methods and have recently been reading about the low incidence of Ischaemic heart disease (IHD) and obesity in france, despite the high fat consumption of the “typical french diet”.

I wanted to ask you Pierrejean if it is correct about the relatively high levels of fat in the french diet, and if the elite athletes you have/have had contact with follow this kind of diet.


I’m not aware of this French diet, although there is a lot of advertisement about bad food patterns, ironically coming from USA (fast food, chocolate bars, etc), to the point that machines given food at scholls are forbidden now. I know some sprinters who are followed by a nutritionist, some others aren’t, actually, it is a personal choice they make, there is no rule or obligations here.
What i can say about French food is that there is a long a prestigious tradition in cooking (and wines!) here, and for sure high fat level was not chekced through centuries, much less than pleasure level!
However, for anaerobic events, the word here is that food patterns is not very important, for distances running much more, but here, you will have to look to North Africa food diets!
I’ve seen female 400m World Champion eating chocolate/vanilla icecreams and male 400m Olympic Champion going to fast food the very day of their competitions, so don’t be obsessed by diets!

the point is what they are doing the rest of the time…

although obsession with your diet is not a good thing, true…

It was just out of interest, I wanted to know if the rumors of lots of full-fat milk, cheese, cream etc were a true part of the modern French diet or just part of the stereotype of french culture!

I was interested in the statistics of the lower incidences of IHD and obesity in the general french population.

They also consume relativley large amounts of wine and garlic, known to keep heart attacks at bay.

you have to see where the fats are coming from and what they are combined with…

Grand Marnier pancakes and onion soup rule though!

High-fat / Low-fat ? It’s the calories! The average Frence diet has 40% less calories than the average American diet.

More likely low insulin levels, and lower circulation of blood sugars. High blood sugar is linked to increased triglycerides in the blood. Garlic and red wine help, but “keep heart attacks at bay” is a bold statement!:slight_smile:

Those machines you refer to not only are not forbidden yet in Italy,but also proliferate in swimming pools and clubs…a declared submission of culture to profit,instead of very possible synergy options.


could the relatively higher fat per meal contribute to the overall 40% reduction in calories via fewer and more “filling” meals? obviously calories is what it counts at the end of the day! just looking for the “mechanism” here…

an apparent contradiction, but it might be true…

Some theories I’ve read have backed up what you say in your post Nic.

Americans (and Canadians to a marginally lesser degree) just plain eat more and jam down their super-sized meals faster. Less home cooking and more fast foods to compensate for less free time than ever.

As Charlie has alluded to, it’s mostly an issue of portion size. What is considered a standard portion for a dinner in the U.S. dwarfs what would be considered standard in most other countries.

i suppose you are right; no experience on this you see -fortunately!

They prepare all their own food. They don’t go to Jack-in-the-box and drink a gallon of hydrogenated oil like most people in North America. They get health benefits from natural butters and creams. All of their oils are healthy and not processed. The bioflavonoids from wine must help. I’m assuming they don’t have their cows juiced up on growth hormones, so their dairy products are probably better. The list goes on and on…

Yeah, Barry Sears claims in The Zone that the reason for the ‘French paradox’ is the balanced meals in the 40-30-30 range.

Basically, there’s a greater emphasis on traditional food and drink, and less on fast food and 500cal drinks. Hence, the relative calorie deficit

And from what i’ve heard more active, everyone rides a bike over there.

and not only a bike!

(roller skates, too!)