Coach Britney Takes on CrossFit Nutrition
In this post, we’ll be discussing some of the information in the CrossFit Nutrition Online course. Nutrition is SO important to your health and success in the gym!
If you’ve been in CrossFit long enough, you’ve likely heard Greg Glassman’s “Fitness in 100 words.” One important point in this saying is “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.” In CrossFit’s nutrition course, this concept is the basis for what guides CrossFit’s online Nutrition course. The main focus the course has is on Chronic metabolic diseases, and ways to help prevent that through the foods we eat and the lifestyle choices we make.
You might be wondering why nutrition is so important for health. The reality is our health, fitness level, and performance are all greatly affected by what we eat. Our choices can either support or undermine our goals over time, regardless of whether you are trying to avoid Type 2 Diabetes or trying to perform at the highest level of your sport.
The following picture shows the Sickness-Wellness-Fitness Continuum, along with the biomarkers that are important to consider when categorizing yourself.
It is important to note that we must consider all factors, not just a single one, to indicate where we are on the continuum.
Quality AND Quantity
The first sentence in “World Class Fitness in 100 words” - “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar,” gives us a better indication about the quality of food we should choose to eat. This allows us to avoid refined and highly processed carbohydrates, which we often find to be the biggest contributing factor of metabolic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes. It also allows us to balance out our consumption of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. By focusing on meat and vegetables, we can consume plenty of protein in meats, and a little carbohydrates with the necessary fiber we need in vegetables. Nuts and seeds allow us to consume the necessary amount of dietary fats that we need. It is important to note that it is vital to eliminate vegetable oil consumption, as this has a high amount of Omega-6 fats, which contributes to inflammation in the body. Some better sources of Omega-6’s you can choose include nuts, poultry, and avocado oil. Some healthy oils you can replace vegetable oils with include olive oil or avocado oil. Fruits and starch gives us a source of carbohydrates to help fuel our bodies to perform and complete the workouts and tasks we ask them to do for us.
According to CrossFit’s Nutrition course, “whole, unprocessed foods” are perishable, not pre-packaged, found in nature, and minimally processed. By consuming more whole and unprocessed foods, you can increase your intake of micronutrients (think vitamins and minerals). If your diet consists primarily of pre-packaged foods, meeting your daily micronutrient needs is very difficult to do without also eating an excess of calories.
While your choice of food is vital to long-term health and wellbeing, the amount of food consumed is also equally important. In the online course, CrossFit recommends eating 40% of your calories from carbs, 30% from protein, and 30% from healthy fats, and eating within a 12 hour window. They also offer several methods of tracking quantity, but the bottom line here is that you should choose what works best for you and your lifestyle. Elite athletes may choose tracking macros to ensure they are eating exactly the right amount of food to fuel their performance day in and day out. Others may find that tracking for just 30-60 days to get an idea of how much they eat is more helpful for them to make better quantity choices long term.
At this point, you might be thinking “how do I actually go about implementing this?” An easy way is to prepare foods that you can easily combine into meals throughout the week. Having roasted or steamed vegetables already prepared, grilled or roasted chicken breasts, and pre-washed and portioned fruit. Having pre-portioned snacks such as hard-boiled eggs, nuts, fruits, veggies and hummus cups, or jerky can be helpful as well if you are in a pinch and need a snack. The bottom line is you need to have a plan! Consistent nutrition does not simply happen. It does not need to be fancy or complex but, it is vital to take some time to plan out how you will be accomplishing your nutrition goals each week.
In the CrossFit Nutrition course, it is recommended to simply use your normal thirst signal to let you know when and how much water to drink. Their recommendation is to drink when you feel thirsty, and to drink as much as you need in the moment to satisfy that thirst signal. A simple way to ensure you are hydrating well is to check your urine color. The chart pictured below shows the color you should ideally have if you are well-hydrated. It is also suggested to eat a quality meal after exercising to replenish electrolytes. Some examples of foods you might incorporate post-workout that contain electrolytes include spinach, kale, broccoli, avocados, almonds, oranges, and bananas.
Although supplements can be useful and have their time and place, they are not a substitute for real, whole foods. While supplementing certain products can seem like a great idea, the reality is most supplements have an incredibly tiny impact on your health and wellbeing over time.
A few that can be incredibly helpful to take for health purposes include Fish Oil. Fish oil is specifically important because most people do not get enough Omega-3’s in whole, real foods first. Just to give an idea, most people should have a 2:1 Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio, but most have a 20:1 Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio. This ratio helps create optimal levels of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory fats in the body. Minimizing your consumption of vegetable oils will also help with reducing Omega-6 consumption in the diet.
You may also consider supplementing protein if you struggle to meet your dietary protein needs as well, although it is not always necessary. If you need help knowing what type of protein to supplement, you may want to consider asking your coach for help. With the availability of various combinations of protein powder, such as whey, casein, plant-based, or collagen proteins, it can be hard to know what works best for you. Just ask!
After reading through this post, hopefully you have learned a few things about the CrossFit Nutrition course. This article is simply a snapshot of some of the information included, and by no means reflects all of the course material! If you’d like to check out the full course, you can find it at CrossFit.com under Online Courses.