Nutrition, the Foundation of Fitness

Whether you are looking to improve your performance,”lean out”, or just get rid of the holiday weight, nutrition plays a critical role in your fitness. You cannot out-train a bad diet. Blood glucose control, proper macro-nutrient proportion, and caloric restriction are the three pillars of sound nutrition. Base your diet on garden vegetables (especially greens), lean meats, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no processed sugar. Keep food intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. If you keep your grocery cart on the perimeter of the grocery store, your headed in the right direction. Food is perishable the other stuff with a long shelf life is circumspect. If you can follow the above prescription 90% of the time you will go a long way towards optimal nutrition.

Its been my experience that balance is important in life and diet is no different. More specifically, protein should account for 30% of your caloric total. Carbohydrates should be predominantly low-glycemic and account for 40% of your caloric total. Fat should be mainly monounsaturated and account for 30% of your caloric total. Calories should be set at between .7 and 1.0 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass depending on your activity level. If you’re crossfitting 6 days per week, you will be closer to the top end of the range above.

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 the 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. These types of carbohydrates are high glycemic, which raise the blood sugar too quickly. Examples of high glycemic foods are rice, bread, candy, potato, sweets, sodas, and most processed carbs. Processing can include bleaching, baking, grinding, and refining. Processing of carbohydrates greatly increases their glycemic index, a measure of their propensity to elevate the blood sugar. If you cannot pronounce all the ingredients or they appear that they have been created in an “evil lab”, then you should probably not put it in your body.

Eating properly or at least healthier than most is inconvenient and more expensive than pulling into the drive thru or buying boxed, bagged, or canned foods. However, if you are crossfitting its likely you are more health conscience than most of your peers and are willing to sacrifice for staying more fit. Obviously, anyone who has done Fran, Eva, or most CrossFit workouts sincerely understands the sacrifice involved with staying healthy.

Dr. Barry Sears is the author of Enter the Zone. This book does a great job laying out a formula to balance macro-nutrients, explain the risks of high glycemic food, and benefits of caloric restriction. This book also emphasizes the potency of food. Food should be thought of as medicine. If we were prescribed medication by our physician, it is likely we would follow the instructions on dosage and timing. Food should be handled the same way. What else do you put into your body 3 to 5 times a day everyday for your entire life. Food is your fuel source. Do you want the quality of that fuel source dictated by some giant conglomerate whose main goal is to make a profit?

I would recommend following Dr. Sears’ formula implementing as many whole foods as possible in your diet. In other words, eat like a cave man while following the zone formula. Your first thought may be, I want to enjoy my food. You still can. You just have to put more effort into the preparation of your meals. This will take effort and sometimes you will fail. No big deal, we do that all the time in our box. We just try to do better in the next Wod. Take that same approach to your diet and you will make real change. CFC will help by posting Zone/Paleo recipes, stay tuned.

Do your own research, question, and search for what works for you. Your health is worth the effort.