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The Rice Experiment

Where have I been the past couple weeks? Eating a lot of rice, in order to prove a point to myself. Either it was going to make a minimal and negligible difference in my performance, strength, and overall body composition, or it was going to slowly congeal me. I’ve been substituting it in for about half of my post-workout window carb meals, not going over my usual allotted grams-per-day (currently 100-150g/d) and trying to keep everything else relatively stable, though I admit that my last two weeks have seen *10* rest-day carb servings (each serving being about 30-45g in my book) and *6* cheat meals, both of which are anathema to keeping body fat in check.

So, the pro’s and con’s. Pro’s: rice is delicious! It’s the most versatile food out there. It mixes with any ingredient you can think of, from cheese to curry powder to basil to fish. Not all at the same time. And as comedian Mitch Hedberg put it, “Rice is great if you’re really hungry and want to eat two thousand of something.” You can cook rice every day for years and never get bored. I know, because that was essentially my childhood:

It looks yummy… but it could KILL YOU!!~!~!~!~!!!!1!1!!!1!

Con’s: not much in the way of nutritional value. It’s pure starch, but not even. While potatoes have added vitamin C and some trace elements by virtue of being a true tuber and sucking up/purifying minerals from the earth, rice is a storage grain. They may also contain some of the dreaded “anti-nutrients” like calcium-binding lectins, even after you remove the bran/husk/etc. It has a very high glycemic index compared to sweet potatoes (but comparable to regular white potatoes), which is great after a lift, but not as great for standard rest-day carb intake. Perfect Health Diet recommends cooking rice with a lot of fat and vegetables in order to keep the index for the entire meal relatively low.

What about the impact on performance? Well, here’s where I am with the major lifts after 10 weeks with CF Football:
Squat (starting weight: 205lb) – Tried 250 lbs and backed off the 5th rep on the last set. Trying it again today.
Press (120) – 132.5lbs went up with a little bit of struggle but not too much back-bending.
Deadlift (345) – Got 390 easy for 5 reps, going for 395 tomorrow.
Bench (180) – Hit 187.5 last week; this has been my toughest lift to progress on because of my freakishly long arms.
Power Clean (115) – Ditto. Got to 130 x 3 reps on Saturday and it felt super-tough. I tried to look in the mirror to see if I was using curling the bar up a bit too much, but I couldn’t tell. I might be falling into the old habits.

I don’t think the rice did too much better or too much worse than the sweet potatoes with my performance in general. What about body fat? Well… I’m congealing. Weight this morning was 194.5 lbs, with 18.5% body fat.  That’s a gain of 0.3lb muscle this week (9.6lb total) and 1.2lb fat (5.9lb total). Not so hot. Also, I snored last night, waking myself up a couple times in the process. Blerg. Absent any severe sinus congestion, snoring’s always been a personal marker that my body fat is getting too high, so there you are. Also, my asthma’s coming back. Not that I blame that on the rice (it could be weight gain + straying from the traditional Paleo blueprint), but it isn’t helping.

VERDICT: rice is OUT. But that may not be enough. My goal over the next two weeks is to put on a pound of muscle and drop half a pound of fat each week, which would leave me at 195.5 lbs and 18%. Here’s my basic plan to keep progressing on the weights but stop ballooning:

1) Walk to work every day, as much as I can. That’s a 3-mile round trip.
2) A bit of a sweat on an empty stomach. Did 20 burpees today (unbroken), with a goal to string on 1 per day.
3) Limit the dairy. Grass-fed butter is in, everything else is out.
4) Carbs *only* after a workout.

Tomorrow: crock pot VICTORY! You’ll never look at cilantro the same way again.



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