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  • Climbing diet comparison - Foods and Macronutrients

    Above: My supermarket shop for the period, and includes everything I will be eating! Yes, thats 1kg of Salmon! 

    Have now had two days climbing on my 10 day Ketogenic phase and feeling good. I will do a climbing-performance anlysis at the end of this phase, but I thought id start by publishing my daily Macronutrient breakdown: My current Keto diet, and what I was eating two weeks ago on a more 'balanced' diet. Ok, so the Keto diet to start with - Im working on delicious, but somewhat repetetitive daily diet with my macros carefully calculated as:

    • 2180 kcal Daily TOTAL Calorie Intake
    • 31 g Carbohydrates (6%, 124 kcal)
    • 109 g Protein (20%, 436 kcal)
    • 180 g Fat (74%, 1620 kcal)

    Ive worked this out based on a philosophy that my body knows how much I need, so I eat untill I feel satisfied - which is not a lot of food when you are eating fats! This seems to work for me on a relatively high-exercise lifestyle here in Spain - if i was at home sitting down at work all day it would prob be too much.

    Fat Saturated fat Carbs (incl fiber) Protein


    3 eggs 15 4.5 1.7 18
    3 strips of bacon (55g) 16 6 0 7
    25g butter 20 13.7 1 0
    1/2 avocado 10 1.6 6 1.5
    2 coffee 200ml 6 5 7 6
    Breakfast total: 67 30.8 15.7 32.5


    Block of cheese -1/4 block 80g 30 22.4 18.4
    Chorizo stick - 1/4 stick (70g) 24.5 9 17.5
    Lunch Total: 54.5 31.4 35.9


    1 Salmon Steak 180g 22 4 0 39
    Cabbage sliced and steamed Handful (50g) 0 0 3 0.6
    Broccholi handful 0 6
    Spinach Handful 3
    25g butter 20 13.7 1 0
    Greek yoghurt - 1 tub 12.5 8.1 5.4 5.1
    Dinner Total: 54.5 25.8 18.4 44.7
    Keto Diet Totals Fat 176g Sat. Fat 88g Carbs 34.1g Protein 113.1g

    On this diet my Ketostick reading is at least 1.5g/mmol or greater and I feel good - never hungry or craving sugar.

    Now my previous Carb diet.

    I had never calculated this before this mornings rather dull exel-spreadsheet session, so the results were surprising to me. I did have a feeling that my bodies ability to judge how much it needed to eat was far less accurate - or just broken - when it came to carbs. I loved bread/rice/pasta, and could eat these untill physically uncomfortably full without my body ever signally that it had enough! For this daily intake breakdown ive assumed a typical days food with reserved eating. I would often crave chocolate after dinner, but didnt not include this here. If anything my intakes are likely higher than this...

    • 2729 kcal Daily Calorie Intake
    • 241 g Carbohydrates (35%, 964 kcal)
    • 115 g Protein (17%, 460 kcal)
    • 145 g Fat (48%, 1305 kcal)


    2 coffees (200ml milk) 6 5 7 6
    Porridge oats 3/4 cup 3.5 0.7 30 7
    milk 100ml 3.6 2.4 4.5 3
    1 mdeium banana 0 0 27 1
    Breakfast total 13.1 8.1 68.5 17


    French Bagutte (half 250g loaf) 2.5 70 15
    Cheese (emmental 60g) 17.4 11.4 0 16
    Salami 6 slices 60g 17 7 2 13
    1/2 avocado 10 1.6 6 1.5
    Handful fresh figs 200g 0 0 40 2
    Lunch Total 46.9 20 118 47.5


    Tuna x 2 small cans 55 8 1.5 34.5
    Broccoli - handful 0 6
    2 eggs 10 3.5 1 12
    White rice 1 cup when cooked 0 0 45 4
    25g butter spread over the day 20 13.7 1 0
    Dinner Total 85 25.2 54.5 50.5
    Daily Totals: Fat 145g Sat. Fat 53.3g  Carbs 241g Protein 115g

    So what does all this mean? Well, my total energy intake is significantly higher on the 'balanced' diet - despite the fact that I typically felt more hungry on it, and craved more foods and sugars!? Interestingly my protein intakes on both diets are almost identical. The fat content in my balanced diet is surprisingly high - im not sure if this was a particularly high-fat day, or its something I need to address if i go back to it!

    Ok, well thats out of the way.. time to go put the Keto diet to the test with some climbing!

  • Ketogenic Vs Glycolytic diets for maximum Sport Climbing performance.

    This is a totally different post from my usual stuff... This ones about Diet, and specifically, comparing the performance of the Keto (fat based) Diet vs the Glycolytic (Carb/Sugar based) diet for Sport climbing. After using both diets for some time recently, im keen to try and compare them - climbing perfomance wise - for me personally...

    To do this I would need some kind of quantative measure of performance - Helpfully, rock climbing has a number-based system reflecting the climbs difficulty, so this should be relatively simple. I would also need access to the same type of climbs over an extended period to make the comparision on different diets...

    Luckily, Im currently sport climbing full-time in northern Spain (Rodellar) and have been climbing here for about 2 weeks, with at least 3 more to go. Up to now ive been running on a relatively standard 'food pyramid' diet with at least 100g+ of Carbs, fruit and some meats - but no processed sugars (lollies, soft drinks, etc).

    Ive been climbing pretty well - close to my limit - and my energy levels have been good - but I feel constantly bloated and full, even when im hungry and ready to eat again. Im certainly heavier and fatter than when ive previously been on a stable Keto diet and its my feeling that being lighter and leaner could have a dramatic effect on my climbing performance - particularly here where climbs are long and sustained - assuming my energy levels stay the same...

    This is really the key question - previous studies show that the Keto diet is likely to be detrimental to your bodies ballistic power (less glucose immediately available for ATP-CP production, as i understand it), but benificial in slower burn endurance type activities. Articles in major climbing publications such as this one titled "Dont be a Carb hater" on suggest that the keto diet should NOT be benificial for sport climbing -

    So, the aim of this little personal experiment will be to find out if a Keto diet can sustain my current climbing performance, or even help improve it?

    From previous experience Ive found it takes several days for my body to get fat adapted - at least measuring with Ketosticks - so I will do the transition over a 4 day rest trip away from climbing, then come back and see how things go...

    To make this comparison slightly more meaningful I will try and do a full Intake comparison over the next week... but to start with Im going to post this to get my 'project' underway, and go shop for a week of Keto eating!

    Sections to add over the next few weeks:

    Glycolytic Diet - Typical daily meals and Macro intakes on my previous weeks + Climbing Performance - grades during the time

    Keto Diet - Typical daily meals and Macro intakes on my previous weeks + Climbing Performance - grades during the time

  • Dealing with Elbow Tendonitis

    I thought id talk about something a bit different for todays post - Elbow Tendonitis: something ive suffered from on almost every bouldering trip for 10 years. Its routine reaccurance - and the subsequent fear of it - stopped me climbing at Castle Hill, New Zealands best bouldering location, and has typically ended trips when it crops up.  I should point out that Im not a medical practitioner: im just a boulderer keen to share my recent revelation about fixing this fustrating and pain problem!

    My particular type of tendonitis is highlighted in the photograph above and it seems to be bought on by any prolonged session pressing down on slopers with a bent arm (mantles = instant tendonitis for me) - hence my problem at Castle hill!

    The first time It occured I took the advice of my Physio and stopped climbing for close to a month, did the prescribed stretches and started doing exercises to balance out my climbers shoulders. By the time I was done with the 'treatment' I was back climbing in the gym without pain and it appeared it was fixed  ...only to crop back up on my next trip to Castle Hill or anywhere else with lots of slopers.

    This happened again and again untill I just wrote off Castle Hill as a possible climbing destination, and fled from any problem with the hint of a sloper-press in it!

    Fast foward 7 years of this behaviour and im in Rocklands at the start of a 4 months climbing world tour, and not a week in im trying a compression arete line and bam, my elbow pain flares up in both arms!

    There can hardly be a better motivation to fix a problem than being in the worlds premier bouldering location and unable to climb anything, so I spent days reading and trying techniques, right from the morning the pain started. Within a few days I was back climbing non-sloper climbs, and three weeks later I was projecting the climb that broke me with no pain whatsoever...

    Its hard to describe the revelation I felt: and the solution was so simple and the results so profound i felt i had to share it.

    1. While its still painful, draw around the affected area: This is important as once the pain subsides its easy to forget where it actually hurt, which is key in knowing the correct rehab.
    2. Take a big ice cube and massage the whole thing into the affected area untill its completely melted. Repeat at least 3 times a day for the first few days, while avoiding climbing anything with slopers. This will help reduce inflammation and as the pain subides additional pressure can be appliued to massage the tendon.
    3. Rehab. The ironic thing about treating tendonitis is that instead of stopping doing the climb or move that broke you, you actually train FOR it, with one key point - you do it eccentrically, with muscles expanding instead of contracting. For my particular bicep tendonitis, this ment taking a 5L water bottle in my hand, raising it up with both hands into a bicep curl with my palm turned down (the position your hand would be pressing down a sloper) and slowly lowering it over 10 seconds. Lift with both hands and repeat. After a session of 10 drops use step 2 to remove any inflammation you may have caused. Repeat as often as you can...
    4. Once this became too easy and not painful (after a few days for me) I moved to some wide, round roof beams that closely mimicked the holds on the climb that broke me, and started doing slow drop-downs over 10 seconds. This became my twice daily routine, and simultaneously developed the strength for the climb, while mysteriously fixing the tendon inflammation.

    This rehab worked really well for my particular bicep tendonitis - if your pain is in the forearm (tennis or golfers elbow) a different exercise is called for, but still done eccentrically. I havent suffered from this type, but from my understanding it can be treated in a similar way using a hammer, or heavy frying pan held at arms length and rotated down in order to stretch and strengthen the affected tendons.

    A climber I met a few days ago also told me of a treatment for outer forearm tendonitis (tennis elbow)  that apparently fixed his: Lie on your front with both hands palm down underneath you. Lift your head softly and you should feel the stretch down your forearm.

    Hopefully this info will help somebody - and if nothing else its a record for me to refer to if it ever comes back! Now im back pressing slopers with no issues, and who knows, I might even go back to Castle Hill again one day.