by Sarah Pinkston
Let me start this by saying, I am not a nutritionist, I do not have 8% body fat, but What I am trying to do is to fuel my body the best way I know how, so I can look and feel my best, and still have the energy to get a great workout in every day.
Paleo, Zone, Atkins, Ketogenic, Intermittent fasting, Atkins, Mediterranean Diet, Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem…. The list goes on and on! Just like most topics, there is a wealth of knowledge online about nutrition, and everyone with their Google degree has an opinion on the subject. The overwhelming amount of information (and many times, misinformation) can lead anyone to be confused on the subject. One thing that most people can agree on though, is that nutrition is the base of our fitness.
There are 10 million articles that can give you a breakdown of how the specific nutrients in our food supply our body, and will give you the chemical breakdown of why each diet works, but I am here to just tell you from experience, some of the most important things I have learned about nutrition, what works, and why we should care.
Sometimes more leads to less
When we think of a ‘diet’ we automatically think of eating tiny portions, because if we eat less, we will lose weight… right? You may be shocked to realize the amount of food you need to consume in order to lose body fat while supporting regular exercise. Think of it this way; every component of your body, including your metabolism, is like a machine, and needs the proper amounts of food to fuel it most efficiently. If you let your car engine run on fumes, what happens? It stops running. The same thing is true of our body systems. We have to input enough fuel to keep them running at their highest capability.
All food is not created equal
Ok, so we have to eat a lot… what does that mean? Eat more calories? Grab seconds? 7 meals a day? We all probably know that we can very quickly find out how many calories a day we should eat based on our height, weight, age, and level of physical activity. We can also find out what percentage of those calories should be proteins, carbohydrates, or fats (more on that later). When we say that you should be eating more food to lose body fat, I don’t mean to increase that recommended number of calories. What I mean is that by choosing the right foods, you will need to eat a greater quantity in order to meet your recommended calories.
The most pure source of fuel for your body is fresh, unprocessed, whole foods that give us lean protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs. These foods are, on the whole, less calorie dense than processed foods. That means that you must eat a larger quantity to consume the same amount of calories. Let me give you an examples of this: I can eat one meal from McDonalds, a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese (780 calories), small French fries (230 calories), and a small sweet tea (130 calories). That’s 1140 calories in a small sized meal. Now let’s prepare a meal based on ‘good’ calories. I can prepare 8oz of boneless skinless chicken (237 cal), one half a cup of brown rice (150 calories), and 2 cups of cooked broccoli (68 calories) for a whopping 455 calories. Not only does my healthy meal contain a greater quantity of food, but it is less than half the calories of my drive thru meal, and will pack a better punch if we look at the nutritional value.
You are a snowflake
One of the reasons that there is not one universal ‘diet’ that works is because everyone’s body is slightly different, and may react differently because of genetics, lifestyle, medications, and other variables. The best way to tell if a nutrition plan is working for you is by keeping good records of what you are eating, how you feel during the day, how you feel during your workouts, and keeping an eye on how your clothes are fitting. Sometimes a change in diet can take a while for your body to recognize, so it is important to stick to it for at least 3 weeks before making tweaks or alterations.
Just because it fits, doesn’t mean it fits.
A huge pet peeve of mine is when people follow their macros (macronutrients: fats, proteins and carbohydrates) or count calories, with no regard to the quality of the food they are consuming. I can make pizza, ice cream, and beer fit into my macros, but that is going to completely contradict my goals, which is fueling my body for success. The number of calories in foods does not directly correlate with the health of the food. Whole foods, fresh foods, unprocessed foods are the most efficient fuel for your body. If you are not sure which foods these are, on the whole, if you stick to the outside perimeter of the grocery store, you’ll be pretty safe.
Plan for success
Let’s face it, most of us feel like we are on the go all day, every day. Most of us don’t have time to go to the grocery store every day, spend 20-30 minutes cooking breakfast every morning, or put together a healthy fresh lunch during our 30 minute lunch break. That is why it is crucial to plan for success. You have to make a plan that is going to work for you and your schedule. For me, meal prepping breakfasts, lunches, and snacks is the key to my success. If I don’t do this, I either don’t eat, or I just ‘grab whatever’ when I am hungry. I make sure to cook my breakfasts, lunches, and put together some pre-gym snacks every Sunday. This may not work for everyone. You may want to just make sure you have all of your ingredients on hand at all times. You may be a crockpot warrior. You may have time to cook every meal but have to have a menu on hand. Whatever your situation is, you don’t want to put yourself in the situation of having no idea what your next meal will be, and opting for the unhealthy, quick fix.
by Coach Blake B.
Let me start out by saying that the following content is 100% my opinion, and I was not coerced, or compensated for any part of the message. I will, however, be attempting to influence each of the readers to at least entertain my thoughts and beliefs on this passage. It’s January 25th and to most, this point on the calendar signifies the first week you weren’t accidentally still writing 2016 when addressing the actual date. To me January 25th means that there is ONLY 25 days until the CrossFit Open 2017 (and yes, I typed that right the first time.)
For those of you readers who have been doing CrossFit for less than a year, you have yet to experience what kind of impact the Open has and what to expect. For those of us that have had the privilege of being a part of the annual ritual, it’s kind of our sacred vow to let you sweat with as much anticipation as we did approaching our first. I’m gonna break a small piece of that vow and let you in on a little secret though, and if I had the ability to whisper via typing I would, so instead I’ll shout it out….IT’S NOT THAT SCARY!
Maybe I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, let me first explain what the CrossFit Open is all about. Each year toward the end of February, CrossFit hands over the control to The CrossFit Games which begins with an Open competition for any and all whom desire. Wait! Don’t stop reading yet, don’t let the word “competition,” steer you away from the rest of the explanation. Yes, the open is considered a comp, and yes it leads to regional comps for the elite athletes, and eventually the Games for the best of the best. But that is just a textbook answer, there is much more to it frankly. The open is a test….crap, ugh, I probably just lost another couple. As a Level 1 Coach I’m supposed to tell you that it is your local box’s way of seeing if you are improving. Has your mobility expanded to full range of motion on movements, or your strength and stamina improved during grueling AMRAP’s. This much I agree on, and now entering my third open as a trainer/coach I can admit that I am excited to see all you folks that I worked with over the past year show your improvement. I am not gonna lie, the open workouts are extremely easy and not nearly like the extremely hard workouts we normally go through. Okay, I straight up lied to you, they can be brutal. This is the main reason that every year, at this time, a lot of people need some sort of realignment in order to sign up. Well not everyone, some love it, some cherish and invite the bar over burpees or the inevitable thrusters. And while I don’t share those exact feelings, I do appreciate the tradition of it all. Believe me when I tell you that nothing compares to pushing yourself through an open workout and having numerous others screaming you past your breaking point. Their genuine chants of, “You can do it,” never seem more true. And the sweat flows with so much more clout during these 5 weeks than seems the other 47 weeks of the year.
I know that plenty of you have already made up your mind, and will elect to not sign up and participate in this year’s open, so my last-ditch efforts to attempt to persuade anyone must end with a story from my first open. With less than two full months of any CrossFit experience, I blindly hobbled into my first workout nursing a severe groin injury that left my squatting mobility a bit shaky. And by ‘a bit shaky,’ I totally mean I was hard to watch! Surely, I would receive some sort of beginner’s luck and will draw a workout calling for pull-ups, and some sort of easy pressing lift, right? Nope, I draw overhead lunges (which I had never done) and box jumps. My groin officially was petrified of what was about to go down…. literally. So, with my nerves through the roof, my heart-rate already climbing when the clock on the wall is counted down 3, 2, 1, go! I find a way to do my best imitation of a snatch (which looked more like a broken wide gripped clean and jerk. I settle my stance and begin to grind out 10 of the most questionable full range of motion squats that gym had ever seen. I drop the barbell with pride, nauseas with the combination of exhaustion and butterflies both in my chest. At least I could catch my breath on the box while I do my step up’s, or could I? As I reach the top of my third step up I finally feel confident enough to make eye contact with both my coach, and many close by cheering supporters. “Go ahead and stop bud,” my coach says to me over the blaring choice of gangsta rap in the background. Stop? Why, stop? “The clock on the wall just froze…we don’t know why, and you’re just gonna have to do it again.” A part of me died on the top of that box. I may have cried just a little. That was my first open experience. And it was awesome. I did it again, just as bad as the first time. Just as painful to watch I’m sure. But I did it, and just like my high school coach used to tell me, “No one can ever take away what you’ve just accomplished.” And each year I get better, and each year my goals change. And I get to do it with people who’ve become like family to me. And that is awesome. That’s why I CrossFit. That’s why I test myself. That’s why I am signed up for this year’s CrossFit Open. #AdaptandOvercome #WarpathStrong #CrossFit