10,000 Turned 5,000 Vegan Calorie Challenge: Mostly Healthy

OY. VEY.

Let’s just say I don’t think I’m going to attempt another food challenge for a veeeeeeeeeeeeery long time. Well, at least not a calorie-related one. I’ve always prided my monstrously insatiable appetite that could eat pounds and pounds of sweet potatoes, peanut butter, grapes, chocolate, cereal, beans, Lenny and Larry’s cookies, Brussel sprouts, pumpkin, bananas, dates, you get the idea. If anyone has ever seen my Indian buffet videos, you will know this is true. Regardless, this video was a bit of a rude awakening for me–I guess I’m not as much of a food beast as I thought I was!

Anyways, to make a long story short, I completely bombed the infamous 10,000 Calorie Challenge and barely made it past the 5,000 Calorie Challenge. This is a viral endeavor that I’ve loved ever since I dove deeper into the realm of the YouTube fitness community where my favorite influencers would make an epic cheat day out of these calorie challenges and stuff their faces with all the so-called forbidden foods. Thing is, the majority of these videos are not vegan, so I thought that it would be a great way for me to experiment with my plant-based diet and culinary skills in a new fashion!

Rules: at LEAST 10,000 calories within 24 hours. No liquid calories. No throwing up. No cheating. See it, eat it.

Guidelines: all the fat, all the carbs. No fibrous foods. Just enjoy all of the seven deadly sins: sugar, salt, sauces, soft serve, sausages, and sweets.

I planned out pretty much 100% of my day for this challenge. I would quickly eat a pre-workout meal, exercise for an extra hour, smash in a delicious brunch, take some time to study and walk off the food, and then annihilate the most amazing dinner and dessert. I would be a champion, right? As you will be able to tell by watching the video, things did not go accordingly!

In my past posts, I’ve discussed my experiences with food comas that usually followed trips to Indian buffets, Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner, or moments where I spent a little too much time picking at an almond butter jar. Alternatively, no food coma could possibly compare with the six or seven-hour long wall of brain fog and stomach clutter after barely completing this challenge! It was a sludge of sensations that nobody would wish on their own worst enemy: sluggish, syrupy, weak, drained, slow, and cloudy to name a few.

Despite the calorie storm, I don’t regret it whatsoever. Not only has it taught me the physical effects of overeating in their true forms, but it prompted me to put on my cooking cap and create some remarkable feasts in the kitchen! Unlike most calorie challenges that usually call for pizza delivery, dine-in brunches, or fast food takeout, I whipped up everything from scratch or products in my kitchen. Sure, it would’ve been extremely easy to order a vegan pizza from Woodstock’s or cucumber rolls from The Naked Fish, but I wanted to motivate myself with some fun, you know?

Also, I chose to keep my fat content lower and meals much healthier than the average palettes from most of the 10K challenges on YouTube because I wanted to make this more challenging and didn’t want to experience the terrible aftermath of overloading on fast food, candy, sweets, all of the fattening stuff that really isn’t healthy. Sure, you gain some water weight or even fat poundage in both circumstances, but how do you feel after one pound of french fries versus one pound of spinach? Plus, the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibers will impact the body much more positively.

Before I get into the recap, I just want to emphasize the huge disclaimer about this challenge. This is not meant to serve as any example of how anybody should eat on a regular basis, let alone every week or even every month. Ideally, overeating should always be kept to a minimum. With that being said, I don’t consume this much food every single day, nor do I exercise for more than two hours every single day. I simply wanted to work out enough to stimulate my appetite and see how it feels to consume such a massive quantity of food in a whole day. Even though I didn’t reach the 10K mark, I still experienced more than plenty of the sensations that a hippopotamus walking in the mud would as well. For the most part, I consume a diet that is rich in plant-based whole foods, fiber, healthy fats, carbs, protein, and micronutrients.

Below I’ve recapped all of the meals, including nutritional information of what was consumed (tracked on MyFitnessPal). The recipes for the lemon blueberry cake and the red lentil dahl will be featured in separate posts for the sake of concision, but I’m absolutely astounded by how delicious everything is that it’s that more difficult to keep them secret!

PRE-WORKOUT

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I may be in the minority, but I regularly exercise fasted. In general, I prefer to not have something sloshing in my stomach while working out, but because I presumed that 10,000 calories would be way too difficult to consume after exercising for two hours, I chose some relatively sugar-heavy snacks that were lower in fat before my intense gym session. This pint of strawberries and Peanut Butter & Jelly LARABAR made the perfect pre-workout snacks! I felt totally energized by the time I checked into the rec center and killed it!

Taste-wise, the strawberries were juicy, flavorful, and slightly frozen, which made them taste a little like sorbet bites! As for the LARABAR, it was chewy, sweet, crunchy, nutty, slightly tarty, and perfectly peanuty and fruity. Now, it is one of my new favorite flavors of LARABARs. I could’ve smashed in ten more of those if I had any!

Nutritional Breakdown:

  • Calories: 324 kcal
  • Total Fat: 11.1 grams
    • Saturated Fat: 1.6 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 54.5 grams
    • Fiber: 11.1 grams
    • Sugar: 36.5 grams
  • Protein: 8.4 grams

BREAKFAST

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Let’s get cerealous………as I wait in silence for the facepalms and unsubscriptions from my newsletter. Anyways, in my personal experience, cereal and granola are two foods that I could just eat and eat and eat without satiation. Hence, I’d figure that the easiest way to chow down easy calories was a ginormous bowl of cereal made with six ounces of raspberries, three triple-and-a-half ounce bags of Enlightened Cocoa Dusted Broad Beans, one cup of Peanut Butter Puffins, three-fourths of a cup of Evoke Foods Morning Zen Muesli, and a little more than a cup of almond milk.

Verdict? It’s cereal. Of COURSE it was delicious. The muesli soaked up the almond milk to create a porridge consistency, so as the liquid absorbed more of the grains, it became thicker and creamier. The chocolate broad beans and the peanut butter puffins complemented each other so well too! I still felt pretty good after this meal, but I did reach a point of satiation. Problem was that it was already nearing twelve or one in the afternoon, and I wasn’t even at two thousand calories yet. Note that I was still in the 10K mentality. However, bet your bottom dollar that this combination will appear again and again, obviously not as large of a portion as this!

Nutritional Breakdown (NOT counting almond milk):

  • Calories: 1605 kcal
  • Total fat: 48.4 grams
    • Saturated fat: 0.7 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 265.8 grams
    • Fiber: 82.9 grams
    • Sugar: 33.8 grams
  • Protein: 91 grams

LUNCH

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Let them eat cake, the queen said. Let them eat the entire cake in one sitting, the queen had not said. The original recipe was found on my curry buddy Arman’s blog thebigmansworld (linked here!), but I did make a few tweaks in order to keep the fat content low. As for eating the cake, it was love at first bite and first few slices. By the time I reached the last slice, I felt like I got punched in the gut, tossed out of the boxing ring, and toppled by the crowds.

My stomach felt so sick that I instantly resorted to stopping halfway, which ultimately was the wiser decision for my intuition. Don’t worry everyone, I ate all the leftovers the days following the challenge, despite that I couldn’t think of cake any longer the day of filming everything! I was shocked as to how fluffy, sweet, tarty, and delectable the cake tasted both fresh and refrigerated! HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend that everyone try this recipe!

Original recipe link: http://thebigmansworld.com/2016/05/15/healthy-flourless-lemon-blueberry-breakfast-cake/

LEMON BLUEBERRY CAKE RECIPE

Nutritional Breakdown:

  • Calories: 1392 kcal
  • Total fat: 18.3 grams
    • Saturated fat: 2.1 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 233.3 grams
    • Fiber: 29.7 grams
    • Sugar: 47.3 grams
  • Protein: 94.4 grams

DINNER

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By this time, I settled on reaching only 5,000 calories to make things easier for myself, plus I didn’t feel ready to conquer 10K this time. I was ecstatic to start consuming something savory! For dinner, I felt ten times better because my stomach felt a lot more empty, even a little hungry, surprisingly! I decided to cook a third of the bag of Murasaki sweet potatoes from Trader Joe’s and heat up half of my batch of red lentil dahl, whose recipe I adjusted in order to increase the calorie content (upping the curry paste measurements, spices, etc.). My sweet potatoes were accompanied with Sriracha (of course), and organic ketchup!

The red lentil dahl was relatively easy to down, and I absolutely adored every bite–well, except the last one. Eventually, the spiciness and richness of the extra curry paste felt more bitter in the mouth as I finished the dahl. Regardless, the original recipe is still perfect, so I highly recommend it! The Murasaki sweet potatoes tasted divine, but by this time, I was so full once again that it took me longer than anticipated. I felt so pained that I even resorted to consuming some Peanut Butter & Company White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter with the sweet potatoes, which cleansed my palette of the overtly spicy dahl and Sriracha! Hey, at least I got in more calories!

RED LENTIL DAHL RECIPE

Nutritional Breakdown:

  • Calories: 1059 kcal
  • Total fat: 19.6 grams
    • Saturated fat: 2.6 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 180.3 grams
    • Fiber: 31.9 grams
    • Sugar: 44.3 grams
  • Protein: 39.2 grams

DESSERT

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Dessert, of course, had to be something calorie-dense and relatively skating on the unhealthy side of healthy. Lenny and Larry’s cookies tend to be jammed with tons of ingredients, but they do contain a decent amount of protein and fiber per cookie, plus are non-GMO, contain no artificial sweeteners, no sugar alcohols, and no high fructose corn syrup. I had the Pumpkin Spice cookie and Peanut Butter cookie on hand, and I came into the fight with close-to-none enthusiasm because of the dinner earlier. Beforehand, I microwaved the cookies for half a minute and got through the peanut butter cookie first, which was sweet, soft, doughey, and would have been easier had I not been so stuffed. However, I felt more encouraged once I polished it off and started on the pumpkin spice cookie, which was more aromatic and fluffy.

I’ll admit that I was disappointed that I couldn’t even finish the pumpkin spice cookie, but I know that I hit such a wall that I would have to force-feed myself to do so. Once I punched what I already consumed into MyFitnessPal, I was beyond thrilled that I exceeded 5,000 calories, even by a little bit!

Nutritional Breakdown:

  • Calories: 666 kcal
  • Total fat: 22.4 grams
    • Saturated fat: 18.1 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 91.8 grams
    • Fiber: 13.6 grams
    • Sugar: 46.4 grams
  • Protein: 27.2 grams

MISTAKES?

Most certainly, I need to drink less water or at least sip it throughout the day. My fat intake should definitely go up to smash in calories a lot more easily, and decrease the amount of fiber to maintain stomach capacity. Oh yeah, and having that cake thirty minutes after my cereal bowl was not the wisest idea, either. It’s simply the basics. Maybe that vegan pizza and box of donuts would have been a better option to make things easier.

Next time, I plan on consuming smaller meals filled with calorie-dense snack-like foods throughout the day rather than three main large portions. Of course, my fat intake will not be monitored–heck, I don’t think I should worry about macronutrient ratios at all–to a minimum, and allow myself to eat an unlimited amount of anything I’d like to have more fun.

OVERALL

I came into this challenge absolutely uncertain about how I would do, yet excited at the same time, but I also felt as if I have such a ginormous appetite and enthusiasm to eat that I’d have no problem with certain foods. Obviously, the first meal was easy, and then I hit the brain fog wall where I’d have to trudge through the battlefield.

I do have to say that this experience taught me a lot about how I really handle food, especially with stimulation of my taste buds. My tolerance towards salt, sugar, and crazy amounts of condiments definitely are not as strong as I thought they would be–maybe this is due to the fact that I tend to eat so clean on a budget–which is beneficial in the long term. I’m grateful that my stomach capacity knows its limits, and my brain can definitely communicate with my body quickly enough to know its satiation signals, despite the fact I exceeded them for the sake of this challenge.

Now that I have researched some more about how to not only attempt this challenge, but how to prepare beforehand and handle the damage done. I definitely plan on taking on this challenge in hopes that I will reach 10,000 calories, even more! It will most likely take place in L.A. where I live, because who wouldn’t want to enjoy some amazing vegan restaurant eats and fun treats I can’t get here in San Luis Obispo? But until then, I hope you enjoyed watching the video, and be sure to like it, leave a comment, and subscribe to my channel for more videos!

Nutritional Breakdown (61/20/19; C/F/P):

  • Calories: 5046 kcal
  • Total fat: 120 grams
    • Saturated fat: 25 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 826 grams
    • Fiber: 169 grams
    • Sugar: 208 grams
  • Protein: 260 grams

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