Nutrition for performance is one thing, but when it comes to simply being a healthy person and preventing diet-bourne disease, nutrition is everything. Adjusting what you eat and when you eat may change the way you look and feel a lot quicker than you think!
Nutrition for crossfitters is designed to achieve two outcomes. The first is to fuel performance, and the second is to improve esthetically. For some, a simple change to nutrition can make dramatic changes, especially in the beginning weeks and months. Most people think that these two goals would naturally be achieved together. This isn’t always true, and they sometimes contradict one another. Sometimes fueling performance does not create a 6 pack! Need proof? The highest performing athletes in the world often do not don a mean-lean washboard!
Where you can start
Let’s say that the majority of people who join crossfit are interested in being as healthy as possible, for daily life. Following a nutrition plan which fits real life is the most realistic option as most people just don’t stick to diets in the long-term, and most people end up gaining weight back. Finding a way of eating that is sustainable and enjoyable is your best option to start.
First off, we need to look at what to eat. Real foods include meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts and some starch. Sugar is completely off limits- refined sugar, brown sugar, etc, which all react the same in the body, and have the same inflammatory effect. Start by removing sugar and processed foods, including breads and pastas from your diet. These are refined, processed, milled and hold no significant nutritional value.
Once your cupboards are cleaned out, let the crossfit nutrition begin!
What to eat
Since starting a new diet with a new routine can be difficult, I recommend making small changes, gradually adapting to them, and then adding more. Once you have created a healthier habit out of food options, you should become familiar with natural foods that are less desirable, even though they fit into a healthy food group. For example, a watermelon and a banana react differently because they have different micronutrients and they are absorbed at different rates.
CrossFit is officially affiliated with the “Zone Diet”. This is a diet which categorizes foods into proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. These are the 3 macro groups. Portions are called “Blocks”. Depending on the size and level of activity of the person, the diet recommends more or fewer blocks. In a given day there are 5 chances to eat: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, and dinner. The women are recommended 10 to 14 blocks per day, ranging from very small women to the largest, or well-muscled body. Men are recommended between 16 and 25 blocks per day, depending on their size.
The meals are then simply written, assigning a number of blocks for a particular meal. Breakfast for the medium size male? 5 blocks; that means taking 5 blocks of proteins, 5 blocks of carbs and 5 blocks of fats for the meal. How much is a block? Well, the diet has devised their own measuring system and charts are available online. Unfortunately, it can get quite complicated, requiring counting and measuring for each item in each meal.
A 4 block meal would include 4 oz of chicken breast, a cup of steamed veggies and an artichoke with 24 crushed peanuts, along with an apple for desert. This completes a 4-block meal and all of the macros you’ll need. Snacks are typically smaller than the meals, but also include foods from all 3 macro groups.
Stick with the basics; consume 3 meals and 2 snacks per day. Stick with low GI fruits, leafy green vegetables, healthy fats and oils, and some nuts. Cut out all sugars. Chocolates, donuts, breads, pastas, etc, are all risky. Potatoes and rice? Well, these are legumes and whole grains, which have a bad reputation for making people overweight. However, eating these foods post-workout in small or moderate quantities is fantastic for performance. Overall, this should provide you with ample energy to workout and to recover from said workouts!
Keeping within the spirit of the nutrition habits keeps crossfitters performing and looking good. Nutrition controls more than just weight-gain and loss. Better skin and hair, energy, quality of sleep, metabolism and libido can all be influenced by what you choose to put in your body!