Sep 23rd, 2015
The guidelines sound simple, “Eat meat, nuts, and veggies, some fruit, a little starch, and as little sugar as possible + keep food intake to levels that support exercise but not body fat.’ – E.C.
But what does that all mean in human language?
To understand the complex world of nutrition, it’s important to understand some foundational concepts and to ask yourself some important questions before you jet off to Dillon’s and meal prep your heart out.
First, let’s talk about macro vs. micro nutrients:
Macro Nutrients: Protein, Carbs, & Fat
Micro Nutrients: Vitamins, Minerals, annnnnd many more
While many have heard of macro nutrients, micro nutrients are where things become more complex (but we won’t dig into the complexities at this point).
Let’s focus on Macros and the concept of nutrient density, or getting the best bang for your bite: the largest amounts of nutrients per calorie of food.
What foods are the most nutrient dense?
Whole foods, the foods that look like they came from the animal/ground, are going to be the MOST nutrient dense. The more they look like a science experiment, the less nutrients it will have (i.e. twinkies).
Whole foods are also important bc of a concept dietitians call “nutrient synergy” or the perfect cocktail of minerals & vitamins working together to increase our body’s ability to absorb it, it’s potency, and all that jazz.
For example, carrots are notorious for being a rich source of vitamin A and Carotene, however, they also have iron, Vitamin E and other micro nutrients that help our bodies get the most out of Vitamin A vs. taking a Vitamin A supplement alone.
Understanding these concepts, will help us realize why it is SO important to eat whole foods vs processed foods – and that it’s not just a wild, “I do this because my nutritionist told me to” concept.
On the mindset side of things, you’ll want to ask yourself these 2 questions before changing your diet:
- Where are you today relative to where you want to be? Lean, fit, overweight? (Outside of your body figure, it’s also important to ask – how are my energy levels, my performance, strength?
2. How much of WHAT foods/macros are the right amount?
This is where it will vary person-to-person. For those who are looking to lean out, you may need to cut out more sugar/starch and ensure you’re eating more nutrient dense foods. Additionally, you’ll want to increase your protein levels, as that will help regulate your hormone processes & build lean tissue (we’ll cover more of this in future posts).
Additionally, if you are lean, but feel like your performance and energy levels are low, incorporate more whole foods into your diet & healthy starches (think sweet potatoes & complex carbs).
If you’re looking to gain mass, you’ll need to eat even MORE whole foods, but focus on eating more fats because they are more calorically dense per gram. Increase your fats the most, then protein, and eat carbs as you normally would.
Learning these concepts & answering those 2 questions are a good first step in building a foundation for optimal CrossFit nutrition. Start there, and you’ll begin seeing your performance and body transform – over time (Sorry, no quick fixes when it comes to the real deal).
Until next time,
(Eating specialist & CrossFit Enthusiast, www.jennyahelms.com)
Source, CF Journal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U94HfFyazu8