Ok so we are two weeks into cake. And it’s been a lot of fun – maybe too much fun! I’ve managed to gain 1kg, but that gain came with a benefit… First of all, last Monday I did an 8 mile run in Breckenridge up to over 10,000ft elevation, without a severe degradation in run pace. That’s the first time ever that I’ve had a good run at high altitude. Secondly, I did an impromptu FTP test during my Thursday ride and had an unprecedented 30+ watt increase in FTP compared to my last test this year. My working theory is that the weight gain and performance improvement go hand in hand. There is no proof of that, and there are a lot of variables, so it really is just a hypothesis.
The one “experiment within an experiment” that I’ve done with the cake phase, is to “eat back” my burned calories. That actually introduces a lot of room for inaccuracy, because measurement of exercise calories is not super accurate. It’s reasonably accurate, but if you burn 3000+ calories in a day, even a 10% variance can impact your weight loss goals significantly. So as counter-intuitive as this sounds, it can actually be easier to lose weight if you don’t do a huge volume of training. That way you just set a daily goal (in my case 2200 calories) and add nothing back in for exercise. However, if you’re training a lot, you need to fuel and recover in order to support that training. My plan is to add calories back once I am no longer focused on weight loss. That way, a gain of 1-2kg here and there is no issue when your focus is on performance, because your priority is on fueling your workouts and your recovery really well. That’s where food quality AND calories become very important. Usually, in that “performance phase” I focus on food quality, but don’t pay enough attention to getting in enough calories. So I will still track calories, but the focus is on making sure I eat enough. I’ll be doing some trial and error to nail down the numbers that I use. In a way, this last 2 weeks has accidentally helped me to define that. I used a baseline of 2200 calories and added back ALL workout calories, so I’ll start with that when I begin to focus on performance. I also learned that during the weight loss phase, it’s a mistake to add back ALL workout calories. I’ve actually lost the most weight when training the least, but sticking to a specific number each day and not adding any workouts back in. It just simplifies everything and (for me anyway) seems like a very good strategy.
So the plan for the next 2 weeks: stay on cake (yay!) but don’t add any calories back. If I have a particularly taxing workout (like a 4 hour ride), I will just fuel that workout itself at around 300 calories per hour, but not add the exercise calories or the workout calories back in.
In a way, I like the fact that this experiment has had a few surprises and things that didn’t work as expected. All of that helps me to learn more about what to expect and be able to tweak my “real life” nutrition and training accordingly. So the longer term view is to get to 73kg on cake, then focus on performance and training for a while and just see where my weight settles (without letting it get much higher than say 75kg). And then at some point I really want to try the ice cream phase again to see if I can repeat that rapid weight loss phenomenon I noticed during this project. I’m mostly expecting that it was just coincidental with the timing of the project phases, but it would be really awesome if it works again!
Posts have been a bit sporadic as we’ve been up in Breckenridge on a short ski vacation. It has been remarkably difficult to find cake up there, so I tweaked the diet to include anything that’s been part of it before. So I got to partake of a very good burger at Blue River Bistro which is a great little restaurant in Main Street Breck.
I did manage to get hold of some ice cream sandwiches too, but they were just boring Klondike Vanilla Ice Cream sandwiches, which were very middle of the road and bland.
I found two donut shops but they were never open… go figure.
From a workout perspective, I had a surprisingly good run. I say surprising because it was at an altitude of 10,000 ft (peaked at 10,300ft/3140m) and I managed to hit 7:45/mile average on an 8 mile negative split run workout. The negative split was “designed”, by running the first 4 miles uphill and then back down for a total of 8. So not really the same as doing that on the flats. But anyway, usually my runs at an altitude this high are really slow, so I was happy with the performance.
I should be able to get a weigh-in done by the end of the week. Due to the super high quality of my recent workouts, I’m guessing that I may have not been restricting calories enough. However I’m ok with that 1) it’s great to get some decent workouts in after 7 weeks of reduced calories and compromised training and 2) because I would love to continue eating cakes for a few more weeks.
PS here is the day 7 video – I did do a blog post for that day but it somehow got deleted…
Today was a day to look forward to – with the recently acquired red velvet cheesecake from last night’s dinner. I went out on a workout, not expecting much, but it ended up being superb! Almost 2 hours at around 250w, which in my current bike form is really good. So that’s 5 days in a row of solid bike rides… there may be some virtue to this whole cake thing after all…
Finally I actually got to eat some cheesecake at Cheesecake Factory… usually I’m too full by the time I finish my main course. I had the dulche de leche cake which was great, plus I took a red velvet cheesecake home for the next day.
Plus it was Donut Friday at work, so I started the day off well with a chocolate donut and a cream cheese danish. It was a big calorie day, somewhat offset by the bike ride fortunately! Post ride I had my Ultraman stage race staple, Kozyshack rice pudding, which is high carb and great for eating straight after a hard training session.
I went to the grocery store to get supplies this morning, and happened upon a box of a dozen freshly baked donuts. It seemed irresponsible to turn that offer down – I mean a baker had slaved away in the early hours of the morning just to make this happen. So I bought a box. I also bought a cheesecake, two cannoli, and some chocolate lava cakes.
Today was a fun day. I tried two things; firstly was the next experiment in daily food distribution. I tried backloading the cakes to the end of the day, but with a high fat/protein breakfast, as well as cakes during my workout. Secondly, was to design my bike ride so that I routed past a few bakeries at around the time I’d be taking a short break.
Both of these things worked really well; the morning omelette kept me energized for a long without any dips in energy (like you get from a high carb meal), and the workout powered by cakes was very good. I rode hard for 2.5 hours but I felt like I could have done another 2.5 hours easily. This was in stark contrast to yesterday’s unfueled workout which felt like I was limping home after just 90 minutes.
Here’s a link to my workout on strava. So it was a great day! Excellent workout and the food distribution worked well – I wasn’t hungry at all in the evening – all I had was a red velvet bundt cake and I was 100% satisfied.
Today I tried to spread out the cakes across the whole day. While it worked ok, I was still too hungry at night. So for me it definitely works best to back load everything to the end of the day, at least as far as cakes are concerned. What I will try in the future is eating my protein in the morning, and cakes at night. Lunch will be super light if anything at all. And I need to plan my workouts better so that I can ride past a bakery if it’s longer than 90 minutes…
I did have some great cakes. Cheesecake for breakfast, key lime pie at lunch, and red velvet bundt cake for dinner (with some ice cream).
Since I ate chicken at lunch, I didn’t consume any protein shakes. Wherever possible, I do like to eat protein from natural sources and not a shake, but on most occasions it is a shake that gets my intake up to the right levels. On a regular diet, it’s a lot easier to get the protein from natural lean meats and fish which is by far my preference.
Day 1 of cakes got off to a good start! Probably because I’m so happy to be done with beer…
I used the same strategy that worked well for ice cream, which is to stack all of your calories towards dinner time. That way, it’s a lot easier to get through the day being hungry than being hungry when you try to go to sleep at night. Actually I wasn’t hungry at all during the day. I even got in a 10 mile run which went well. For some reason I wasn’t thirsty either so it was very much a free run with no stuff other than the basics. Meal of choice for today was the reputable Lamar’s Donuts which is 8 miles from Boulder, in Louisville.
I ate 6 of the 7 donuts which conveniently added up to 2000 calories.
I topped them off with a protein shake to get 2240 calories for the day. I have to say, that even though these are good donuts, that I’m not really a huge donut fan, which I think is due to the taste of deep fried dough. For me, it just doesn’t please my palate. Needless to say, I was not hungry at all after eating a dinner of 6 donuts, I might have even felt a little sick. Anyway, I’m really happy that the scope of this phase is broad enough to include any type of cake – lots of variety out there!
I thought the day would never come! But it’s here, so I’m on to the next phase until the end… donuts, cakes, desserts, chocolate…Plus the bonus content of allowing any of the previous food phases as extra fillers in the event that I need to get in some extra calories; beer (no thanks!), pizza (not likely), ice cream (yes please) and burgers (maybe on occasion). Especially since at some point in this phase I will be on a ski trip, so need a bit of flexibility in food choice, but I think there will be no problem finding cakes, ice cream and burgers in a ski town. Worst case I know for sure there will be beer…
I planned a big bike day on Friday, but I felt terrible during the ride so cut it short. However the day before I had an awesome ride (unexpected since I felt tired before I got on my bike), and then today I had a great long ride on the Dimond (tri bike), just over 4 hours and I felt really good. So as they say it’s swings and roundabouts… as long as you expect to have some bad days then it’s all good.
Ok – the decision is in – out of necessity (or maybe desperation?) I am modifying the beer phase so that I can avoid the alcohol. Even with relatively small amounts (like 2-3 beers at night), the impact on me is really negative… sleep is compromised, I feel terrible most of the time, and weight is fluctuating all over the place (even with constant calories). This phase was always about experimentation to see what would happen – and the [obvious?] answer is “nothing good happens when you are on a beer diet”.
So in order to get back some stability (and general human function) I will continue with this phase, but broaden the scope to drinks that are brewed in some way. This gives me flexibility to include non-alcoholic drinks such as kombucha (which does have very small amounts of alcohol) and ginger beer. In the spirit of the overall “bad food diet” we are still ok – ginger beer has a lot of sugar and is generally something I would avoid except during and directly after a workout (or race). I will still drink beer but limited to 1-2 per day… there is just no way to get most of my calories from beer and still function! My fellow South African countrymen will probably disown me – I know a few who can put back 12 a day, every day, no problem. But I am clearly not one of them!