Nutrition experiment: replacing workout calories with quality food

Last weeks I did Highland & as an experiment decided to replace calories burned during the workout (that were not offset by calories consumed during the workout) with what I considered good quality food. So only fruit (no juice!), veggies, nuts, and lean protein (for purposes of this exercise fish & chicken). No bread, pasta, butter, sugar, etc.

So net calories burned during the workout were on the order of 2800 (3300 calories used offset by 500 calories consumed). After the workout I consumed:

1 apple
2 bananas
2 oranges
24 grapes
6oz spring mix salad
2tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup cashews
1/4 cup pecans
1/4cup pumpkin seeds
6 oz salmon
7oz green beans
Chicken thigh
20 brussels sprouts
sweet potato

At that point, still had 600 calories to go, though, ‘I’m stuffed to the scuppers. I’m just going to bed.’

Couple of thoughts on this…the volume of QUALITY food it takes to replace calories burned during workouts is substantial. It takes a bunch of eating. My jaw was tired. My gut was stretched. Also, the massive amounts of flavonols, isoflavones and catechins flowing through your veins on a diet such as this would be mind altering. And finally, can’t see how eating like this could lead to anything but weightloss…it’s just super hard to eat enough.


Very interesting! I may give this a try some day. Thanks for sharing.

I hope you did this workout outside. Five hours on the trainer seems brutal…

Imagine how much harder it would be again if you were 100% plant based.

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Substitute tofu and tempeh for salmon and chicken and you’re all set!



What’s wrong with beans?

True, true. Nothing wrong with beans. Beans are great.


All that soy would destroy my guts.

That’s too bad. Never had that problem myself. I think the volume of food would cause some issues though…

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Interesting experiment! If you keep this going I’d be really interested to hear how you feel over time. So many awesome vitamins and micronutrients going on there.

Forgive me if this is a silly question, since I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to nutrition. I understand keeping things whole and mostly unprocessed, but why the aversion to bread (say, a hearty whole-grain or sourdough) in this case? It seems like there are plenty of carbohydrates and simpler sugars elsewhere on the list, and the concept of not being able to put some of those things on a sandwich is making me kind of sad.

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I thought wholewheat bread and pasta was ok according to the Endurance Diet? If so, then I regularly get through 4-5000 calorie days with no processed sugar or other “bad” foods. Spread out throughout the day and the ride though, and some more calorie dense stuff than your list including whole milk, honey, dates.


@jeremy I don’t think bread/pasta is a bad food. I just eliminated grains from this exp’t & that’s mostly for reasons of personal preference & because other IRL interested parties are trying to follow a gluten free diet. I’m not a big believer in the gluten free lifestyle…but if I’m being honest with myself I don’t ever eat bread for the sake of eating bread. I don’t ever eat pasta for the sake of eating pasta. (unless you count spatzle!)

Well, except for when bread is fresh from the oven. Who doesn’t like that? But mostly bread is a way I like to eat butter and jelly. Pasta is a way I like to eat red or white sauces. So once the decision is made not to eat butter or jelly for the next little while it’s easy just to knock out the bread and pasta, too.

Gosh knows I’ve become an inveterate consumer of Ezekiel bread sandwiches since joining this forum. Don’t know that I’m planning to eliminate bread from my diet on an ongoing basis but even so it’s not that big a part of it now.

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Yeah, that was the next thing on the menu: mashed lentils with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and minced garlic. So tasty! I was just so stuffed…couldn’t do it.


Start making homemade bread like we do. Small piece of heaven when I lightly toast it.

I can’t help but notice that by far the most massive change (I assume…the OP didn’t list what they ate before the experiment) is that carbs seem to have been replaced almost entirely by fat.

Regardless of what kind of food it’s coming from, the ‘change’ is that the OP is now on a fat centric diet.


@anon67840561, do you think that’s good or bad? Or maybe more to the point, what do you think the right mix of macros is & why?

I recently started working with a sports nutritionist and she said that this is her preferred way of managing calories but that a lot of people can’t do it. I’ve been doing it for a while and have made it work for myself for the most part. It works for me because I workout so early in the morning that I have all day to eat and manage to keep most meals around 500 cal. It can break down if I ride later and do a big ride and miss one of my regular feedings creating the need to consume a lot of calories in a much shorter window. In those cases, it usually move breakfast to before my workout/ride so I can try and keep the number of meals the same and add a little quantity to each meal.

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What is “Highland &”? You burned 3300 calories? 6 hour ride?

@AJS914 Highland is a TR workout.

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Well let’s be clear…I’m no nutritionist.

BUT…you’ve got an awful lot of fat in there. I think the research has shown fairly consistently that carb centric is the way to go for endurance training.

If it were ME…I’d replace most of the nut calories with bread/beans/rice/potatoes.