30 Pounds of Bread in 30 Days

Screen Shot 2014-10-11 at 9.06.34 AMYay, I completed the 30 Day Bread Challenge yesterday by eating a final 460g of seedy multi-grain. So, in 30 days, I ate a total of 13.78 kg of bread, or 1.01 lbs/day. Happily, I can report that nothing strange nor magical happened, and I continued to lose weight at my normal rate. Over the 30 days, I lost about 2 kg, as shown in my progress chart above. (I’ll update the chart in a few weeks, to show the continued progression towards my 70 kg goal.)

What did I learn from this Challenge? Mainly, I learned not to be afraid of bread. We’re all so terrified of it, that while we might consume it in sandwiches and morning toast, anything beyond that is accompanied by a lot of fear and guilt. Everyone, even high-carb vegans, is convinced that processed flour makes you fat, and they worry that even “whole wheat” bread isn’t really made from the whole grain.

And I figured out pretty quickly that white flour breads taste a lot better than whole wheat ones. I figured it wasn’t worth it nor necessary to eat whole grain bread. My weigh-ins confirmed this, so I just went with the approximate 2.5 cal/g density for all of them.

Calorie-wise, a pound of bread (~1200 cal) a day isn’t very much. For me, it didn’t even make up half of my daily calorie needs. Historically, people ate a lot more than a pound of bread a day:

In France, there has been a huge decline in the baguette culture. In the 1970s, French people were consuming an average of one loaf of bread per day. Only a century ago, the French ate approximately 3 loaves of bread per day. Today, French people eat only a half a loaf of bread per day.

— Wikipedia

Yes, I did work out a lot during the Bread Challenge. But, I’ve been riding about 200 km/week for the last 5 months as well, so nothing really changed, including my weightloss rate.

The pound of bread a day I ate was in addition to whatever else I decided to eat. I ate to fuel myself, and didn’t restrict calories, or eating times. I had occasional treats, some fatty foods, some Cokes on my rides, but generally I ate a healthy, traditional diet with lots of vegetables. I probably ate a pound of butter with the 30 pounds of bread.

So, what’s my conclusion? A bread calorie is a calorie. Don’t panic, and have some bread.

Bread Challenge Day 29 of 30

IMG_2002My 30 day “experiment” of eating a pound of bread a day is finally coming to an end. Only one more trip to the bakery tomorrow morning, then I’m free! I weighed in at my previous low of 79.2 kg this morning, so I should end up losing weight after eating 30 pounds of bread in 30 days. Just to make sure, I bought a 610g multi-grain loaf today, instead of my usual white flour choices.

I don’t expect this self-experiment to prove anything to anyone. If you believe that “carbs make you fat”, and that Jimmy Moore and Gary Taubes are geniuses for writing books that say so, then nothing will change your mind. It’s like Stephan Guyenet and CarbSane Evelyn explaining to Sam “Smash The Fat” Feltham for 2+ hours why the “alternative hypothesis” of carbs->insulin->fat is silly. (See the recent two “Do Calories Count” interviews here and here.) Sam doesn’t disagree, and lets his guests thoroughly explain why the “alternative hypothesis” is over-simplistic and does not correctly characterize human biochemistry and physiology, nor does it predict actual outcomes (i.e., the billions of thin people on starch-based diets).

I give Sam Feltham credit for airing opposing points of views on his show. I’ve never seen an honest exchange between the low-carb and the CICO camps before. Sam didn’t resort to dodgy Taubes-like rhetorical tactics. In fact, he didn’t argue his position, or even say much. It was very much like Jimmy Moore’s podcast with Durianrider. Jimmy didn’t say much, and just wasn’t interested in hearing about people eating carbs. These guys are only interested in talking about *not* eating carbs. There’s a difference. The world eats carbs, always has, and always will. They don’t care. They just want to resonate their obsession that “carbs make you fat” in their echo-chamber.

Bottom line: no one’s listening. They only hear what they want to hear.


IMG_1993I think we had a record turnout for the October Awarewolfs Full Moon Bike ride tonight. We had at least 60 riders, which gives you some idea of just how big the fixed gear community is around here. We all ride a lot, so meeting up at 8pm in the park on a Wednesday night is easy enough. The ride was very easy going, except for a short effort at the front sprinting with Tony and Aaron.

For Day 27 and 28 of the Bread Challenge, I ate 950g of ciabatta and a rosemary & olive oil sourdough boule. With only two days left in the 30 Day Bread Challenge, I’ll probably have to average around 750g a day to make up for a few missed days.

Bread Challenge Day 26 of 30

IMG_1986Back to bread yesterday! I missed two days of the Bread Challenge last week, because I overloaded on other foods, and didn’t feel like stuffing down an additional pound of bread on those days. I can still probably meet the pound of bread a day average for the month, which is ending in a few days.

For Day 26 of the Bread Challenge I ate 700g of ciabatta buns and rosemary rolls. I’m off for a workout on the bike now, and to buy more bread.

Dim Sum Sunday

IMG_1975Today, I ate about 5x the amount of Chinese Dim Sum in this picture. This stuff will kill you, but it’s a typical Sunday brunch family obligation. Yes, it’s more-or-less good tasting, but it’s so over-the-top in it’s concentrated fat and calories, that no one could think it benign. There are almost no vegetables involved, and you feel your arteries harden as you overeat the stuff.

Don’t confuse Dim Sum with the everyday Chinese staples of rice, vegetables, and a little bit of meat for flavouring. The latter will make you lose weight (recent study), but Dim Sum causes heart disease. The ancestral Chinese diet is not egg rolls or Panda Express.

I’m probably going to take a long walk before bed (I already rode a 30km preemptive calorie burn before brunch), but it won’t make much of a dent in today’s calorie surplus.

I ate no bread today on the 25th day of the 30 Day Bread Challenge 😦

100km Morning Ride

IMG_1967I needed breakfast before the Gitman Holland CC ride this morning, so I figured I’d load up on over 1000 calories from this cinnamon bun, and be done with it. Turns out it was enough food for the ride, although I drank 2x 350ml of Coke, and another 750ml of a Sprite+Powerade cocktail.

Strava says I burned 2600 calories on the ride, but I’m not sure the cinnamon bun was a good idea. On the one hand, it’s pretty concentrated energy, and I wouldn’t want to eat my normal low calorie density food (like 1.5 burritos) before the ride. But then again, eggs, toast, and hash browns might have been a better breakfast. I’ll try that next time.

The ride was fun, and I kept up with everyone on my fixie for the first 45km of the ride. But after 30 total minutes of climbing, and with my 48×16 gearing, I couldn’t keep up with the 38 km/hr pace on the flats. So I continued the ride on my own, stopped a few times for drinks, and averaged around 31 km/hr.

I didn’t eat any bread yesterday for Day 23 of the Bread Challenge. Today, I had the 250g cinnamon bun, and about 200g of 9-Grain Honey Oat in my 12″ Subway turkey and veggie sandwich. So that’s a total of 450g of bread for Day 24. (I didn’t have my scale, but I swear that cinnamon bun weighed almost 300g. And with all the butter and sugar, it probably had a caloric density > 4 cal/g. Oh well, I’ll try to forget about it.)

Nothing Sacred Ride

IMG_1966I joined Bojac, George, and the guys from Nothing Sacred Tattoo on their Thursday night shop ride tonight. The ride is a smaller version of Bojac’s K.I.S.S ride, but sometimes just as fast. That’s Bojac in front, and me behind, riding up Garnet Ave in Pacific Beach. Thursday is a fun night for the ride, when people are out, and the weekend nightlife begins.

I make sure I’m fueled up before I head out on these fast fixie group rides. There are a lot of little challenges and sprints, and you want that glycogen available when your legs need it. I ate some Shot Bloks for the sugar and caffeine before the ride for good measure.

For day 22 of the 30 Day Bread Challenge, I ate 490g of pretzel buns. They’re made by the Sadie Rose Baking Company, and I got them from the grocery store. I ate two of the buns with butter, and used the other two for bison burgers with onions, tomato, and spinach & kale.

I also picked up my usual order from Gabriel’s Tortilleria, and ate about 600g of corn tortillas today. I ate some with butter, and the rest with an avocado.

Bread Challenge Day 21 of 30

IMG_1958I weighed-in at a new low of 79.2 kg this morning, which is about a 1.0 kg loss after eating a pound of bread a day for three weeks. So I’ve lost about 50g of body fat a day, which is all I can ask for without restricting my calories.

I bought another 610g of bread this morning, including a walnut raisin petit loaf, which I’ll eat with butter. I’ll use a sourdough baguette to make lamb burgers, and to snack on with butter. I had a pretzel roll with butter and scrambled eggs for breakfast. Otherwise, I’ll fill out my meals with veggies, which provide the key fiber, micronutrients, antioxidants, etc. that really make us healthy.

It’s kind of fun to tell people that I’m eating a pound of bread a day. It sounds particularly crazy since I’m trying to lose weight. And I didn’t know how the experiment would turn out. We’re all so terrified of bread, that I wouldn’t have been surprised by a weight gain. But after the fact, it’s “obvious” that bread is only calories, you can still lose weight if you burn them off.

The bottom line is that there’s not that many calories in a pound of bread. Breads usually have around 2.75 calories/g, so a 454g loaf has about 1250 calories. That’s not even half of what an active male burns every day.

Instead, we should ask ourselves why we’re so terrified of bread. I remember back in the early 2000’s, when the Atkins craze was in full swing, and people were sure that potatoes and rice made us fat. Well, at least they were convinced that excluding all carbs from your diet would result in fast and rapid weight loss. Of course, no one could really comply with a low-carb (< 50g/day) diet, but everyone ended up believing that "carbs make you fat". Which is where we are now, except that you can eat some tubers in a Paleo diet.

In my day, no one had a gluten sensitivity. Back then, everyone was lactose intolerant. Now, sadly, no one is. And what happened to oat bran?

Bread Challenge Day 20 of 30

IMG_1933I’m finally getting the hang of this pound-of-bread-a-day diet, after almost 3 weeks into the Challenge. I picked up 400g of ground lamb at the store yesterday, and I’m now making all meals around a small burger on a ciabatta bun, with tomatoes, onion, and spinach. This is a much more tasty menu than just eating bread and butter on top of my normal vegan-like high carb diet.

I bought 550g of ciabatta and pretzel buns, and they’re barely enough carbs for the day. The bread totals to about 1400 calories, with 300g of carbs and 40g of protein. The lamb is mostly fat, and if I make 3 x 70g patties, they’ll total to about 45g of fat and 35g of protein. I’ll eat some veggies and other snacks for another 50g of carbs and 10g of protein. In total, I’ll probably eat about 350g of carbs, 50g of fat, and 85g of protein (2200 kCal; 65% carbs / 20% fat / 15% protein) today.

I rode my bike to and from spin today, and I might join the fixie crowd at the velodrome races tonight. More than likely, I’ll eat another 400 calories of carbs and veggies until I’m full. But for now, that fatty lamb is really helping to satisfy my hunger on seemingly fewer calories. Hopefully, saturated fat isn’t bad for you.

Bread Challenge Day 19 of 30

IMG_1924I needed some variety for breakfast this morning, so I made a tofu, mushroom, and egg scramble. I miss some of my favorite foods, so I might not eat much bread today. Yesterday, on the 18th day of the Bread Challenge, I had 540g of Walnut Raisin bread, as well as a taco dinner with a bunch of chips and salsa.

In the first 18 days of the bread challenge, I’ve eaten 8.76 kg of bread, which averages out to 490 g/day, or 1.08 lbs/day. So I’m on target with the pound of bread a day goal. But I should probably slow down on my 50g a day butter habit.

Today, I only ate 200g of ciabatta buns.