If you truly want to gain the full benefits CrossFit has to offer and see some amazing results, you have to realize and be willing to accept that there is more to it than just performing the workout. What you eat is SO important and will play a major role in your overall performance. Proper nutrition is necessary when trying to gain strength, increase endurance/speed, aid your body recovery, and decreasing body composition. If these are some of your goals, then your going to have to make some sacrifices within your daily diet.
Do I want you to look at this as a “diet”? NO! DIETS DON’T WORK…. yea, maybe you’ll lose a few pounds here or there but, how many people do you know that have gone on a diet ACTUALLY succeed at keeping the weight off?? Not many! I want this to be a LIFESTYLE change for you. Is it going to be easy? Probably Not. Are there times you are going to get frustrated? Yes, I’m sure of it. BUT… That’s why we are here to support you and help you along the way. The long term benefits of eating healthy greatly out weigh the short term struggles you may face. This is a way of life… it gets easier as you go; you’ll start to see improvement in your quality of life, your workouts, your energy level and you will realize this was the best change you’ve ever made (well, besides deciding to be a bad ass CrossFitter)!
“There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses; only results.”
So now you ask…
Where do I Start?
The CrossFit dietary prescription is as follows:
Protein should be lean and varied and account for about 30% of your total caloric load.
Carbohydrates should be predominantly low-glycemic and account for about 40% of your total caloric load.
Fat should be predominantly monounsaturated and account for about 30% of your total caloric load.
Calories should be set at between .7 and 1.0 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass depending on your activity level. The .7 figure is for moderate daily workout loads and the 1.0 figure is for the hardcore athlete.
What Should I Eat?
You want to base your diet on garden vegetables, especially greens, lean meats, nuts and seeds, little starch, and no sugar. That’s about as simple as we can get. Many have observed that keeping your grocery cart to the perimeter of the grocery store while avoiding the aisles is a great way to protect your health. Food is perishable. The stuff with long shelf life is all suspect. If you follow these simple guidelines you will benefit from nearly all that can be achieved through nutrition.
The Caveman or Paleolithic Model for Nutrition
Modern diets are ill suited for our genetic composition. Evolution has not kept pace with advances in agriculture and food processing resulting in a plague of health problems for modern man. Coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and psychological dysfunction have all been scientifically linked to a diet too high in refined or processed carbohydrate. Search “Google” for Paleolithic nutrition, or diet. The return is extensive, compelling, and fascinating. The Caveman model is perfectly consistent with the CrossFit prescription.
What Foods Should I Avoid?
Excessive consumption of high-glycemic carbohydrates is the primary culprit in nutritionally caused health problems. High glycemic carbohydrates are those that raise blood sugar too rapidly. They include rice, bread, candy, potato, sweets, sodas, and most processed carbohydrates. Processing can include bleaching, baking, grinding, and refining. Processing of carbohydrates greatly increases their glycemic index, a measure of their propensity to elevate blood sugar.
What is the Problem with High-Glycemic Carbohydrates?
The problem with high-glycemic carbohydrates is that they give an inordinate insulin response. Insulin is an essential hormone for life, yet acute, chronic elevation of insulin leads to hyperinsulinism, which has been positively linked to obesity, elevated cholesterol levels, blood pressure, mood dysfunction and a Pandora’s box of disease and disability. Research “hyperinsulinism” on the Internet. There’s a gold mine of information pertinent to your health available there. The CrossFit prescription is a low-glycemic diet and consequently severely blunts the insulin response.
Now, lets take it a step further…
Zone or Paleo?
These are 2 different ways of life for CrossFitters and their diets. Most follow either the Paleo Diet, the Zone Diet, or some blend of the two. Let me break them down for you…
Cavemen or Paleo Diet- The paleo way of eating and being takes us back to our roots, 2.5 million years ago when people hunted and gathered their food. A time when refined grains, sugars, salt, dairy products, fatty meats and processed food simply didn’t exist! The Paleo diet is fairly simple, here are the ground rules:
- All the fruits and non-starchy veggies you can eat
- Consume healthy fats (nuts/seeds ect.)
- NO Cereals
- NO legumes
- NO dairy products
- NO PROCESSED FOOD
– Information used from The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Food You Were Designed to Eat.
by Loren Cordain, Ph.D.
Click here for some good paleo information and recipes.
The Zone Diet – Developed by Dr. Barry Sears. The Zone Diet prescribes 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat for every meal. It also prescribes that you eat several small meals throughout the day. This means you will be weighing and measuring every meal and snack. In the Zone your meals are broken up into “blocks” of food. How are these blocks determined? Let me show you…
7 grams of protein = 1 block. 14 grams = 2 blocks.
21 grams = 3 blocks.
9 grams of carbs = 1 block. 18 grams = 2 blocks.
27 grams = 3 blocks.
1.5 grams of fat = 1 block. 3 grams = 2 blocks.
4.5 grams = 3 blocks.
Each meal and snack must contain the appropriate/equivalent “blocks” of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. You may experiment with your number of daily blocks and move them around as needed. Every athlete is different. The Zone Diet doesn’t prohibit or require any particular food. This diet is designed to fit anyone whether they prefer a organic, vegan, paleo, fast food or fine dining while delivering the benefits of high performance
Click here for more detailed information on determining Zone blocks and meal plans.
Information taken from The Zone: A Dietary Road Map to Lose Weight Permanently : Reset Your Genetic Code : Prevent Disease : Achieve Maximum Physical Performance. by Barry Sears, Ph. D.
Also The CrossFit Journal issue 21
We recommend sorting your calorie quality out first (Paleo). Then, if you are truly chasing performance, you need to understand how much fuel is going in to the machine (Zone) – we have found our athletes make great strides combining these two diets. Ultimately, its about determining what works best for YOU and YOUR lifestyle. We want you to succeed and what may work for one person, may not necessarily work for you. Whether you decided to follow a strict paleo regimen or combine them together (Zone and Paleo) we are here to help you, and give you guidance through it!! NOW… go clean out those cupboards, go getcha a food scale, and head to the grocery store!! But, remember SHOP around the perimeter of the store! Don’t let those middle aisles suck you in!
The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Food You Were Designed to Eat. by Loren Cordain, Ph.D.
The Zone: A Dietary Road Map to Lose Weight Permanently : Reset Your Genetic Code : Prevent Disease : Achieve Maximum Physical Performance. by Barry Sears, Ph. D.
Paleo Diet for Athletes: A Nutritional Formula for Peak Athletic Performance
by Loren Cordain, PhD, and Joe Friel, MS