By Liam Holmes
Practicing CrossFit without any regard to nutrition is similar to only having “one oar in the water,” according to CrossFit Founder and CEO Greg Glassman. Diet is crucial to optimising health and performance, supporting the reasoning as to why Crossfit Nutrition is the foundation of the CrossFit pyramid.
‘Sound nutrition, obtained from a high-quality diet in optimal quantities—as determined by the individual—provides the necessary foundation for continued progress and maximum adaptations from the program’ CrossFit HQ
You wouldn’t expect to jump straight into the main class and be performing WOD’s with RX weight without having first completed your foundations. Why does this occur with nutrition so often? We all need to be doing the foundations of Crossfit nutrition Every. Single. Day. It needs to be a lifestyle, something that is a habit and that you enjoy. This is what I call WORLD CLASS BASICS. The basics of nutrition don’t come in a shiny tub with a list of 20 different ingredients. The basics can be the mundane stuff – prepping meals, eating more vegetables, limiting alcohol consumption or getting to bed early.
When you do nail the basics, the effect on performance and health are incredible.
CrossFit is unique in that as it is constantly varied, it can stress all of your energy systems, mental capacity and push your body to limit – all in a one hour class!! If you do not employ world class basics to your Crossfit nutrition then you are not giving yourself the foundation to reach your potential.
Here are 5 world class basics to focus on now:
1 EAT THE RAINBOW
The fact is that the majority of people underestimate the impact that eating enough vegetables has on health and performance. The intensity of CrossFit means that your body requires more support than the average joe. You need to be supplying it with a variety of nutrients. In addition to this a recent meta-analysis concluded that a higher consumption of fruit and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of all causes of mortality, particularly cardiovascular mortality. There is no supplement that has this kind of effect!! Adding more vegetables (particularly green veg) into most meals is where you need to start. Add kale/spirulina into your morning smoothie, spinach to your omelette and a variety to your lunches and dinner. Bottom line is to eat vegetables at every meal.
2 INDIVIDUALISE YOUR NUTRITION
Finding what works for you is so important. One man’s meat is another man’s poison. This takes a little bit of awareness. Do you have those days when you feel superhuman?! Just note down what you ate in the meals leading up to this. Additionally note down what foods you ate when you feel like death and everything feels like 200kg!
Don’t follow someone else plan, evolve your own.
3 MINIMISE THE STRESS OF DECISION
Deciding what to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, pre workout, post workout etc etc etc…it can become overwhelming. The sheer number of decisions we have to make regarding food is staggering. Employing some simple strategies to minimise the stress of making these type of decisions can help you focus on other areas like training, work and your social life.
- Meal prep – you don’t have to prep every meal for a whole week but maybe just cook extra from dinner or roast some meat and veg a couple of times.
- Get some go to meals in your locker – this could be a good smoothie recipe, a quick tasty superfood salad lunch or a spicy stir fry. Having these quick go to meals allows you to stay on point with your Crossfit nutrition regardless of the situation.
4 EAT THE BEST QUALITY PRODUCE THAT YOUR BUDGET ALLOWS FOR
You don’t have to buy everything organic from expensive health food shops, but one basic thing to do is to buy the best you can afford. Do a little bit of research to find a local producer that does amazing eggs for a fraction of the supermarket prices, or buy up superior cuts of meat and fish when they are on sale and freeze them. Another tip is to buy larger cuts of meat and cook for a few meals at a time, this is always cheaper than buying the pre cut fillets, allowing you to spend more on better quality veg!
5 EAT SOME FORM OF PROTEIN AT BREAKFAST
Now this is something that I believe will make a huge difference to your health and performance regardless of your goal. Breakfast can be one of the meals that people eat a solely carbohydrate based meal. Cornflakes and milk? Does anyone still eat this?!?! Some people can go until 1.30pm before eating any form of protein (and even then its is usually only a small amount). Want to build muscle, lose fat and be awesome at work?? Then get SOME PROTEIN IN YOUR BREAKFAST!
So why is having protein at breakfast is so crucial?
- Boost neurotransmitter production – boosts memory, attention and drive for the day ahead.
- It is linked to eating less throughout the day
- Stabilises energy levels – no mid morning energy dips
- Provides amino acids to build muscle and recover from training.
It doesn’t matter whether you do the 6am conditioning class or the 8pm weightlifting class you need protein at breakfast.
Here are some great breakfast ideas
- Eggs – anyway you like – Omelettes, baked eggs, scrambled, poached, boiled……add veggies, add meat, add fish – be creative.
- Greek yoghurt – add nuts, seeds, berries, protein powder – done!
- Meat and nuts – Charles Poliquin championed this and I have had some awesome results using this method. Try it. Trust me.
- Chia seed puddings – google them. So versatile and can be used for snacks and desserts also.
- Smoothies – get yourself a nutribullet and start creating masterpieces! Great way to add in lots of different superfoods and nutrients. Add spirulina, maca and tyrosine into a morning smoothie.
Crossfit Nutrition: The Take home message
Nutrition is for life. Remember that everything you put in your mouth, in either solid or liquid form, is either helping you achieve your goal or hindering your progress. Make sure you understand the basics and make them a habit.