Thoughts About Food (How’s that nutrition looking…)

Nutrition is a hot topic lately, and that’s great! For way too long people have been mislead to believe that they can “work off”  poor food choices, or all that matters is calories in and calories out. Neither of these are accurate when it comes to health and fitness. Part of the problem is there is so much conflicting information, and to top it off the government recommendations do little but continue to send our country’s health into a downward spiral!

This post will cover a couple things. First we’ll discuss what to think about when considering a nutrition plan or challenge. Then, I’ll provide the basics for you to start making progress on your own without needing any specific program aside from the CrossFit prescription.

There are nutrition programs everywhere you look these days (we even offer a program for individualized help), and they can be useful for improving health and fitness. Others might be missing the mark. And sometimes, it’s all in our approach. There are some things to consider before jumping on the newest program or challenge.

Things to ask yourself:

  1. Is this program designed to make me healthier, or simply shed weight? Losing 10, 20, or even 50 pounds alone does not mean you are a HEALTHIER version of yourself. There are plenty of examples of people eating junk food and losing weight. There are plenty of thin people with atherosclerosis. Yes, being a healthy weight for your body type is important, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle. If it doesn’t encourage you to eat real food (meat, vegetables, fruit) over processed “food”, I would be skeptical. And I would not consider it a nutrition program.
  2. What is my goal? Are you fixated on reaching a number on the scale or a particular clothing size? If that’s the case, in all honesty you may never reach that goal. It’s been my experience over the years that those types of goals tend to constantly shift (the closer one gets to the “magic” number, the goal suddenly shifts 5 pounds lower), and they tend to be set on an ideal image that they’ve created in their head. The problem is that it may not be ideal for you, especially as you increase muscle mass and your body changes.
  3. What do I plan to do when it’s over? Any good nutrition plan or challenge will set you up with new positive habits and be sustainable. Many times, I see programs and challenges approached as a temporary feat. Do you lose and gain the same 10-20 pounds every time? This is not health. This is crash dieting followed by a return to old habits. A good plan or challenge will help you learn and develop healthy eating patterns and turn them into habits that should replace your old dysfunctional habits, and help you learn how to maintain your results for the long haul, and learn to deal with real life situations. But YOU have to exercise discipline in your day to day life and actually stick with those new habits. Otherwise, you’ll be yo-yo’ing for life.
  4. Is this plan for ME? A good plan will be specific to the individual. It will take things into account such as size of the person, lean body mass, male or female, daily energy expenditure, goals, etc. If you are getting info from your friend, whether they paid for a good program or not, it may not be for YOU. Other things that should be considered are individual health conditions. There are many conditions that need special care or attention, a “one-size-fits-most” approach could be ineffective or even harmful.

In my opinion, the best advice, and number one place to start should be this:

“Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, a little starch, no processed sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.” -Greg Glassman

It really is as simple as that.

This means focus on realquality foods. If you’ve only been focused on macro-nutrients, you might be (are probably) missing out on valuable micro-nutrients that are required for optimal health. Try to work more vegetables into you diet on a daily basis, and try to remove processed/refined foods. Make a goal to see how many meals each day are made up of the following- meat (not breaded, fried, or coated in any sugary sauce; think roasted chicken, grilled steak, etc), at least one vegetable (make sure to include a variety!), a fruit/starch (ex. apple or sweet potato), and a small portion (think-  size of your thumb) of added fat. Make the vegetable portion larger than the fruit/starch portion. Do this 2-4 times a day for a few weeks, and tell me what you notice.

You also need to keep track of how much you are eating. Weigh/measure and log everything. If you don’t know how much energy (food) you are taking in, you can’t make changes. You also need to be aware of your overall carb intake, as well as fat and protein. This sounds daunting, extreme, and impossible to many of you, but as someone that has weighed/measured the majority of the food I take in for close to 2 years I can assure you that it is in fact none of those things. It just takes a little practice and commitment, and before you know it, it’s habit. It is very difficult to dial in nutrition for performance and/or weight loss/gain without knowing how much of which foods you are eating.

Not sure what your macros should be? Start with a simple, even split. Try 40% carb, 30% protein, 30% fat, or my personal targets right now- 35% carb, 30% protein, 35% fat. These can be changed, but I wouldn’t stray too far from a balanced split in the beginning. Be consistent with the targets for a few weeks before making changes. As far as how many total calories, that is highly variable and generally requires some experimentation. For reference, I generally take in about 1800 calories per day. I’m considered a small female, but my activity level (factoring in workouts and my active job) bump my daily calorie requirements higher than someone of similar size with a desk job. I’m also not trying to lose weight. These are all factors to consider. Not sure where to start? Ask me and I’ll give you a starting point and you can explore from there!

The other BIG player in health? What you drink. If you are still consuming sugary beverages, please STOP. This includes soda, sweet tea, sports drinks, mocha-frapa blah blah, you get the point. This one change can mean huge and real health benefits. And do your kids a favor- stop giving it to them, too! Drink water, unsweet tea, etc.  Alcohol should be limited as well. There is not much upside to alcohol in your diet, but a whole lot of negatives- it interferes with sleep and your body’s ability to recover to name a couple. A sure health buster is to regularly consume sugary alcoholic drink (think- those delicious margaritas, daiquiris, or any of the numerous sweet concoctions)! So, no more sugary drinks, and limit alcohol consumption to very little or none. Deal?

In a nut shell- eat real foods, eat enough to fuel your workouts but not too much (track your intake), and keep your overall carb intake on the low side (40% or less) by getting the majority of them primarily from vegetables and fruits. Once you are following these 3 pieces of advice, you’ll be well on your way to your best health and fitness. It does not require perfection or 100% compliance, 100% of the time, but it does require consistency.

If you start here and hit a roadblock or have questions, please ask! That’s what we’re here for. After all, fitness without nutrition is not fitness.

Watch this video for some inspiration!

 

 

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