The Race Weight Project

Short Version: To demonstrate that calories in / calories out can work no matter how “bad” the food, I’ll be trying to get down to race weight (from 78kg to 73kg) by eating burgers, ice cream and cakes before Ironman Boulder in June. So I start at 78kg with burgers, and then for each kg lost, I move onto the next bad food, until I get to around 73kg.

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Finally, if you want to see all my posts for this project, just click here.

[UPDATE] – Project is complete! I will do a full recap, but on a base level it was quite interesting with some unexpected results.
– Burgers: I felt surprisingly good during this phase. Due to the high calorie count of most good burgers, my daily structure was to only eat late in the day. So usually no breakfast or lunch. I actually felt really good and workouts didn’t suffer at all.
– Ice Cream: The big surprise here was how fast I lost weight. I actually lost 1kg in the first 2 days but I still wanted to eat more ice cream so I had to up the calorie count! I was more hungry than I was in the burger phase, but I also lost quite fast. Workouts were ok, not great but not bad either.
– Pizza: I thought this was going to be a very good phase, because with pizza you get in a solid dose of carbs, protein and fat. But I felt terrible for the whole phase, and workouts were not good either. 
– Beer: this was a very dumb idea. Need I say any more. But I suppose I was interested in how it would work. It was terrible, don’t ever do this.
– Cake: Weight loss was extremely slow on this phase, but surprisingly workouts were fantastic. I never had a goal of improving workout performance on this diet, but that happened during the cake phase. I did an FTP (threshold power) test on the bike during this phase and got an increase of 32 watts (281 watts to 313 watts) which is unprecedented for me. My all time best is around 325 watts, and that was training specifically to get that performance. I don’t think it has anything to do with actually eating cake, but perhaps more to do with the fact that my calories were higher (backed up by the fact that I was not losing any weight)

Overall: For health reasons I do not recommend eating this way, but the point was not to show healthiness, but rather that weight loss is possible even on bad foods, provided that you focus on a calorie deficit. As you can see, the type and quality of food makes a big difference to how you feel and perform. But also, it’s important to note that during times of high training levels, it’s important to do some occasional calories counting to make sure you’re eating *enough* calories. So for day-to-day eating, I choose high quality foods that help to support my training and recovery, but I have no problem also throwing in an occasional pint of ice cream without feeling guilty about doing that!

 

Below is an embedded chart showing my weight tracker. I aim to weigh in at least once per week.

Long Version: The goal of the race weight project is to demonstrate that calorie balance is the most important factor to consider when weight loss is the primary goal. Health and wellbeing are of course vitally important in day-to-day life, but when weight loss is the goal, first make sure the calorie balance is right, then focus on the food types. Too many people get sidetracked by popular diets, which may often be healthy, but can deceive the dieter into a false sense of security. People often feel imprisoned by all the rules and restrictions of a particular diet, leading to a non-sustainable situation where more often than not, they abandon their efforts toward weight loss. Very often there is a list of “bad foods” that they will avoid at all costs. However, if they had to just eat foods that they love, but in moderation, they would find their diet efforts to be more sustainable in the long term.

To demonstrate this principle at an extreme level, I will embark on my weight loss journey eating mainly foods that are generally considered “bad”. However I will measure my calories very accurately (using MyFitnessPal), and ensure that I am at a slight deficit every day. My goal is to get from 78kg down to 73kg, starting February 4th and hitting goal weight before Ironman Boulder on June 11th. If you want to receive updates via email, just sign up (your info is never shared with anyone).

My goals for this project: The primary goal is that I hope for people to feel more freedom and joy when it comes to food. You can eat delicious foods, even some “bad foods”, and still achieve your weight loss goals. 

Here are the “rules” for my diet:
– Most of my calories will come from a specific “bad food”, until I lose 1kg (2.2 lbs)
– Once I reach that 1kg milestone, I move on to the next bad food
– My goal is to eat as many calories as possible, and still be in calorie deficit (contrary to the popular mindset of eating as few calories as possible and trying to survive on that)
– For me, that means around 2000 calories per day. Since I do a lot of training, I add exercise calories on top of that. I use Training Peaks to measure my exercise calories, which I have found to be more accurate than most other tools when it comes to calories.

Schedule:

  • 78-77kg: burgers
  • 77-76kg: milkshakes / ice cream / desserts
  • 76-75kg: pizza 
  • 75-74kg: beer
  • 74-73kg: pancakes, donuts and cake

There are some key points that are important to this project:

  • Most of my calories should come from the “bad foods”. However at times of peak training load, my exercise calories will come from high carbohydrate foods that can power my workouts. Wherever possible, these will also be from “bad” foods, but may not match the current food schedule. For example, in the burger phase, I might drink coke during a workout and not eat a burger while on my bike. But I will still get most of my regular daily calories from burgers.
  • I’ll supplement with protein when required. I aim for around 0.7g-1g protein for every pounds of body weight. That’s roughly 120g-170g per day. Some days will be more, others will be less. So while in ice cream and milkshake phase, I might add whey protein to one of my milkshakes. Protein intake is important for preventing muscle loss during calorie restriction, and aiding in immune system function.
  • I’ll take vitamins as needed. I’m currently supplementing Vitamin D, since I was super low after Ultraman World Champs.

Click here for all posts, or browse them below 

Burgers for race weight – day 1

  Here is day 1 burger dinner. Bacon Cheeseburger from Five Guys (first time I’ve been there, pretty good!), home made chicken burger with mayo, butter and avocado, 2 glasses of red wine, curly fries and sweet potato fries.   … Continue reading

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Burgers for race weight – day 2

Day 2 was a good day! It was an early start (as you can see from my video intro below) but the workout was good (Tour of Sufferlandria day 2).     The burgers today were hand made by me … Continue reading

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Burgers for race weight – day 3

Day 3 of getting to race weight on bad foods got off to a good start, or so I thought…     I suffered through the blood, sweat and tears of the Tour of Sufferlandria day 3, only to discover … Continue reading

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Burgers for race weight – day 4

Today was a good day, well except for leaving my swimming stuff at home when I went for a swim. But I just changed plans and did 1 hour of heat prep instead.   The burger today was a bacon … Continue reading

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Burgers for race weight – day 5 “Good Times”

Ok, day 5 is in the bag.  Today’s burger was from a local drive through diner called Good Times. I chose the 1100 calorie Big Daddy burger. The burger was not too bad but does not claim the top spot.   … Continue reading

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Day 6 – the best burger EVER?

The unexpected side effect of this project, is that by eating the same type of food every day, it’s easy to compare and rank the different options. In regular daily life, I  eat burgers maybe once every 2 weeks at the … Continue reading

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Burgers for race weight – day 7 (not the best burgers)

Today was not the best burger day. I had these Alaskan salmon burger patties in the freezer, and since I had a massive pile of work stuff to get through, I didn’t have a chance to get out and buy … Continue reading

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Burgers for race weight – day 8 – Chuburger

Chuburger in Longmont was another recommendation from colleagues. It’s a cool bar, part of the Oskar Blues group, that describes itself as “craft casual”. You can choose from a few standard burgers or build your own. I chose the Buff … Continue reading

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Burgers for race weight – Day 9 – LarkBurger

The Larkburger originated at the Larkspur restaurant in Vail. Now it’s a local establishment with 13 locations in Colorado.   They pride themselves in natural, fresh ingredients and approaching everything with culinary skill. I’ve been interested in trying them out … Continue reading

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Final day of burgers – Blackbelly

The scales have dipped below 77kg, meaning it’s time to move on to the next food! Ice cream, milkshakes and other dairy-based deliciousness here we come! For a recap of this project and how it works, check out the page. … Continue reading

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