The old idea general concept of “carbohydrates are bad” is an extreme fear-based misconception. Certain functions are primarily fueled by carbohydrates and nothing else, including the eyes and brain. Having a nutritious breakfast is critical to getting your day started right.
When we talk about good and bad carbohydrates, there are a few things to consider.
First, some carbs are very highly processed. The health community has come to a general consensus that the more a food is processed, the farther away it is from a healthy option. Whole brown rice, for example, is less processed than rice crackers. It also contains fat and protein, which are usually degraded during processing and become irrelevant. Some carbohydrates have more diverse micro and macronutrient profiles than others. Again, not all carbs are bad, nor are they equal.
Next, consider the glycemic index (GI) of the carbohydrate you are about to consume. Depending on the time of day and workout schedule, you may choose to consume slow-burning (low GI) or fast-burning (high GI) foods. Most fruits, veggies, legumes, and nuts are slow-burning; you can expect a slow and steady release of energy and they do not spike blood sugar. Processed grains, such as rice crackers and, bread are high GI, with a more immediate effect (Harvard Health Publishing)
Carbohydrates are a necessary and healthy part of any Crossfitters diet. Timing and portioning are guided by the athlete's needs and schedule.
When we are talking about proteins, we are actually talking about several essential and non-essential smaller nutrient blocks that form proteins. Amino acids are either formed in our body (non-essential) or we absorb them through foods (essential). Any protein source, be it a supplement, animal, or plant-based, has a unique amino acid profile. The function of amino acids and proteins is to heal and repair body tissue. Muscles, connective tissue, and organ tissue are all made up of proteins.
There is an abundance of research on the effect of protein on muscle recovery. The general consensus is that protein is absolutely necessary to minimize protein breakdown following resistance training. It is totally normal for proteins to be breaking down in the body, a process called catabolism. By feeding the system, it reduces the effects and synthesizes more protein (West et al, 2017).
Low and moderately active elder individuals can also benefit from a high protein diet. Simply consuming more protein (though there is a recommended limit) can reduce the effects of muscle atrophy significantly. Since protein is not stored in the body and takes time to process, consuming small and frequent sources is generally recommended. After grueling training days, slow-burning proteins (such as casein) which digest through the night are also a nice way to manage intake.
We often hear about “BCAAs” and resistance training. These are three essential “branched-chain amino acids” which have been identified as the most responsible for building muscle (. Leucine, isoleucine, and valine supplements are very popular for this reason.
A recent study also proved that consuming both carbohydrates and protein together immediately following difficult endurance exercise significantly improves next-day performance (Sollie, et al 2018). This is noteworthy because of the style of CrossFit competition; multi-day staged workouts.
Finally, the dreaded fats, which had a bad reputation for most of the past 60 years, and continues to perpetuate myths. Surprise, fat is good for us. We need fats for several functions, including energy production, fat metabolization, nervous system maintenance, and the absorption of vitamins.
Never again should you reach for a “low fat” option. Moderation and choice can make your fat consumption joyful and guilt-free again. Fat makes food taste good to humans, so why deprive ourselves. And similarly to carbohydrates, gets a bad reputation, when it is really just how we choose to consume and use fats. Either way, this macro is going to be essential to your recovery and improved CrossFit performance.
Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. These are the molecules that keep us moving, healing, building, thinking, and functioning. All of the micronutrients we need can be found in food sources and in sunlight. Think of micronutrients as the zero-calorie magic that keeps us functioning. Micronutrients should exist in perfect balance with each other within the body. That means that too much can be harmful. When we are low in a particular micronutrient, it is called deficient, but when it is in excess, it is considered toxic. Scientists have defined a healthy or normal range for each micronutrient to be found in our body, most of which can be tested through urine or blood samples.
For health, you want to have enough, but not too much. Many nutrients will simply be flushed out through urine if there is too much, but not always. Exceeding the Upper Tolerable Limit is dangerous. Too much of anything in the system can make the blood toxic. Overdoing it with vitamin and mineral supplements without being recommended by a doctor is not a great idea for this reason.
What we do know and believe is that variety is key. Frequent balanced meals that contain a wide variety of macronutrients will give any CrossFit athlete the fuel they need to perform. To help organize your meals and find when you need supplementing, check out these CrossFit diet options:
TOP 3 DIETS FOR CROSSFIT PERFORMANCE
In the early days, we were told to eat “Paleo”. The problem with that was that athletes were getting tired fast, from a lack of complex carbohydrates. Now, with a more organized and balanced approach, you can get lean while getting enough energy to WOD and recover quickly. Here are three diets a lot of CrossFitters are turning to, to help them stay healthy while providing the fuel they need to perform at their peak.