Step one is your diet. The foundation of your health is what you eat. All the exercise in the world can’t counteract a really bad diet. So what should you eat?
Starting in January, BrewCity CrossFit will be having a diet challenge. Details on the specifics will be forthcoming, but in the meantime, we’d like to get some information out on what kind of diet we, and CrossFit, advocate. There are some differences of opinions when it comes to the perfect diet, but most CrossFitters,* and a growing number of scientists, dieticians and other experts agree that the conventional wisdom (low calorie, low fat, high carb) is wrong.
Step one is to eat “real food.” One of the first things you probably found when you google’d “crossfit” is Greg Glassman’s description of World Class Fitness in 100 Words: “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. Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, Hard and fast. Five or six days per week, mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports.” Appropriately, Coach Glassman’s description of fitness starts with diet, and the appropriate diet starts with real food: meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds. It cuts out sugar and starch.
Beyond this, veteran CrossFitters seem to fall into one of two categories (or sometimes both). There’s the “paleo” crowd and the “zone” crowd. Paleo focuses on what kinds of foods you eat (and don’t eat). Zone focuses on proportions of macronutrients. In both diets, insulin is key. By keeping insulin levels in check, the body is able to reduce fat and increase muscle and performance.
The idea behind the paleo diet (or “primal diet” or “caveman diet”) is that human beings are not designed to eat processed or agriculturally grown food. The vast majority of human existence occurred before the agricultural revolution, and therefore our digestive systems evolved to function best on real food, not on starchy, high carbohydrate breads and grains. It’s like the CrossFit “real food” diet in that it calls for meat, fish and poultry (specifically grass fed meat and free range poultry), vegetables, fruits, nuts and roots. It goes a bit further by excluding not only refined sugar and grains, but also legumes, dairy, salt and processed oils. Of course, people adhere to this ideal with varying levels of strictness. There are a number of great sources for paleo[ish] information out there. Start with Gary Taubes, Robb Wolf, and Mark’s Daily Apple.
The Zone Diet was created by Barry Sears and focuses on consuming calories from carbohydrates, proteins and fats in a balanced ratio. That ratio is 40:30:30 in terms of percent of calories obtained from each macronutrient. By doing this, your body enters the “zone”, which basically means the proper hormone balance where insulin levels are not too high or too low, and glucagon levels are not too high. The best source for information on the Zone Diet, is Barry Sears himself.
We will be providing more information about both diets in the upcoming weeks as we gear up for our diet challenge. In the meantime, do some digging on your own. It’s as good a time as any to improve your diet.
*Of course there are obvious exceptions. Mikey D is a good example. He’s easily one of our top performers and eats a strict vegan diet.