Crossfit is easily one of the most popular workout regimens in the world today. Whether you belong to a Crossfit gym or you just enjoy doing their workouts in the privacy of your home, there are a few things that you should know.
There is no doubt that Crossfit is effective. Indeed, its’ a popularity that is largely due to all the success stories, which are easy to find. That being said, it’s a workout routine that is not for the faint of heart. In order to handle such an intense workout, it is essential that you fuel your body with the right kind of diet.
Many of the principles that we will outline here are similar to the ideas of the Paleo diet and its adherents. This diet is built on one simple rule: Keep it natural and whole. If a primitive human would not have been able to find a particular food, then it supposed to be avoided.
The human body was not meant to ingest artificial foods, and so it’s kind of like running your car on moonshine, a practice that used to be somewhat common among those who hauled large amounts of bootleg ethanol during the prohibition era. It will work, but you will not achieve optimal performance.
Eat Plenty Of Carbs
You should avoid low-carb diets when you are actively doing Crossfit work. Although these diets will help you to lose weight, they will also leave you feeling depleted and low on energy. We have written a lot about the way that the human body uses carbohydrates, but this information is important enough for a short recap.
Carbohydrates are short-term energy that the body turns into a fuel called glycogen. Glycogen is normally the first kind of fuel to be burned by the body, simply because it is the easiest to process. When the glycogen stores are depleted, the body will then start to use its fat reserves. As it eats away at the fat, it will also eat away at your muscles to a certain extent. If you are trying to build muscle mass, this is simply not acceptable.
For this reason, a person who is involved in Crossfit training should have a diet that contains plenty of carbs. You will most certainly need a lot of energy to get through these workouts, as they can be quite grueling. You might worry that you won’t burn as much fat, but that isn’t necessarily true.
After eating a bunch of carbs, your body wants to use them right away. If you do a workout at this time, that’s exactly what will happen. Because you are using that energy, it will not turn to fat. It will simply keep your body from eating into other tissues to fuel itself. It’s like giving yourself a reserve tank to make sure you get over the finish line. Some people refer to this practice as “front-loading.”
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Eat Abnormal Amounts Of Protein
The average person doesn’t get enough good protein. While every individual is different, there is a trend that we see with modern commercial foods. Far too many of them are ridiculously high in carbs and not high enough in protein and other nutrients. No wonder we have an obesity epidemic in this country!
So, when we say that you should eat an abnormal amount of protein, we mean that you should eat a lot more than the average person. Before we go any further, it should be advised that there is such a thing as protein overdose, but it won’t be a big danger as long as you stick to whole, natural foods like meat.
You probably want to avoid fat in your diet, but you need to make sure that your meat has some fat. Extremely lean proteins like rabbit meat can cause protein poisoning because the body needs a certain amount of fat to help it process all that protein. Fat and protein are not necessarily enemies. In fact, sometimes they work together quite well.
One little fact to bear in mind: Protein is also a form of energy, just like carbs and fat. It behaves somewhat like a carbohydrate but is used by the body for different things. It can be used by the body as a ready source of energy, like carbs, but it is mainly used for the building and repair of body structures, acting like bricks that are used to fix a broken wall. However, protein can also turn into fat if it isn’t used. Thus, that protein shake can actually cause you to gain weight if it isn’t accompanied by exercise.
Protein For Recovery
However, your dietary protein will still serve some good for your rest days. As we said earlier, the body uses protein to repair damage and build new tissue. This includes tissue that is damaged during exercise. In this case, the most important proteins are the essential amino acids, as they will make the biggest difference in muscle recovery.
For one example of that fact, we might take a look at this study. Researchers gave doses of amino acids (only six grams) to a number of volunteers and then measured the protein balance of their muscles. They found that the protein from the supplementation was going straight to the muscles and creating an excess, which is good. Since these are like the bricks that build a wall, it’s a good idea to make sure that your builder has plenty of them.
Balancing The Two
So how should you balance carbs and protein? This is a good question, as we have already learned that both are crucial for a Crossfit athlete. We would recommend that you go with a split of approximately 40% protein, 30% carbs, and 30% fats. If you are in need of large-scale weight loss in a short time, you might bump the carbs and fats down to 20%, but this should not be done for very long.
No Processed Foods
When doing this kind of diet, you need to avoid processed foods like the plague. Once again, apply the caveman rule. If Ugg, your distant cave ancestor, could not have possibly eaten something, that means you should leave it alone. This includes substances which began as natural foods but were then processed into something else.
You need to avoid the temptation to make this excuse: “It’s made from natural ingredients, so it’s fine!” Technically, everything is made of natural ingredients. Even something as artificial as plastic is made from a natural substance (oil). For that matter, not every natural substance is safe in the first place! Obviously, snake venom and deadly nightshade plants are natural, but should still be avoided!
For this diet, you need to stick with whole foods that are in their natural form. That leaves you with all the fruits and vegetables, any kind of meat, mushrooms and other edible fungus, eggs, honey, and anything else that was made by nature alone.
No High-Glycemic Carbohydrates
Have you ever wondered why people get diabetes? You’re about to learn the answer. It all relates to the way that the body handles carbohydrates, which we already discussed above. However, you may not be aware that sugars are a type of carbohydrate. They have different qualities when compared to most carbs, though, and that is what we shall examine next.
It all comes down to a little thing called insulin. This is a hormone produced by the pancreas, and it is very important for the regulation of carbohydrates. Both sugars and carbs are turned into glucose (blood sugar). At this point, we should probably explain the difference between glucose and glycogen: They are just different forms of the same thing. Glycogen is stored carbohydrate energy while glucose is contained in blood and other bodily fluids.
Insulin is used by the body to regulate the usage and flow of glucose, and that’s why diabetics use it as a medicine to control their blood sugar levels. When you eat a great big load of sugar, the body produces a great big load of insulin as a result. So what happens when a medicine is used too much? Answer: The patient becomes resistant to the medicine. Diabetes is just a situation in which your body has built up a resistance to its insulin, forcing the patient to supplement with extra insulin via injections.
Some carbohydrates will cause diabetes over time, while others will not. For this reason, you should make use of the glycemic index to see how much insulin the body will produce in order to deal with a given food. All foods are ranked from 1 to 100, with 1 being good and 100 being very bad. This index determines what diabetics can and cannot eat. You should use this list to avoid any food with a particularly high glycemic index rating.
Just to bring this out of the lab and into the realm of the practical, we will now cover some specific foods that are recommended for those on a Crossfit diet. Bear in mind that this list is not complete and that you have a huge array of other options.
A member of the bean family, lentils are one of the most nutritious foods around. These things offer a lot of vitamins, minerals, and other useful nutrients, but that isn’t the main reason for their inclusion on this list. They are included here because of their high protein content. Lentils provide roughly nine grams of protein per half-cup, which is quite a bit for any plant. Although lentils (obviously) make a great option for vegetarians, they are equally well-suited to carnivores because they offer a ton of protein with minimal fat.
You might not think of this as healthy food, but it’s actually one of the healthiest! It offers us a source of bodily fuel that contains no sugar or carbs, but which gives us all the energy that we need for a Crossfit session. Technically, coconut oil is classified as saturated fat, but it’s not quite the same as other fats. Its’ molecular structure is more simple than other saturated fats, allowing the body to break it down more easily. This equals less chance of fat being stored, as long as you exercise after eating coconut oil. You can just take a tablespoon of the oil or mix it with other foods, which gives it a nice versatility bonus.
Nuts And Seeds
When it comes to snacks, most people aren’t willing to drop them. However, nuts and seeds make great snacks that require no cooking and are packed with nutrients. Nuts and seeds do contain fat, but it’s a non-complex short-chain fat like the coconut oil, so you aren’t going to gain weight from eating nuts and seeds unless they are fried in oil or something like that. Perhaps the best thing about nuts and seeds is their high omega fatty acid content. Omega fatty acids have been shown to have all sorts of health benefits, including faster recovery after the workout.
When you go with a hardcore workout program like Crossfit, you need to adopt a hardcore diet. There is no disputing this fact, so you might as well just go ahead and throw out all your potato chips, all your snack cakes, all your fast food coupons, and your sugary foods in general. All of these things will hold you back, so we advise you to throw them out with the trash. Your body will thank you for it, and the results will show everyone just how awesome you really are! If we have helped you to attain a level of greatness that few mortals ever do, we hope that you will gratefully follow us on Facebook so that we can continue to whip you into shape!