Athletes ask all the time how to better get ahold of their diet! The most success I have found is by counting macros! This should help answer some questions.
World Class Fitness in 100 words by CrossFit Founder, Greg Glassman begins with “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.” (CrossFit Journal, September 2002, “The Garage Gym”). Eating clean without having a guideline of precision may find you falling short of your goals. Whether your goals are body composition or performance related you need a plan to help you precisely meet your macronutrients (Carbohydrates, Fat and Protein) on a daily basis. The Performance Nutrition Macro Challenge provides precision and accuracy to your clean eating to help you reach your goals!
Workouts & Macros
What are Macronutrients?
Protein is an essential macronutrient for growth & repair. This is absolutely crucial for building muscle mass, repair & recovery. Protein is typically used for building not as an energy source specifically. This especially rings true for anyone who is an athlete and competes regularly whether it is Crossfit, Olympic lifting, strength competition, etc.
Fat is a very dense source of energy. Saturated fats are good as long as they are from healthy sources (think pastured animal fats, grassfed butter, coconut oil – anything that is solid at room temp is considered a saturated fat and they tend to be more shelf stable). You can also get your fats from pastured egg yolks, avocados, olives, olive oil, avocado oil, dairy from animals, coconut milk, nuts, seeds, etc. It’s best to vary the fats you consume in the diet to offer a variety of nutrients into the body.
Carbohydrates (aka Carbs) is best used as an energy source. Anyone who works out regularly needs to be sure they are fueling their body with starchy dense carbs (sweet potatoes, yams, beets, carrots, butternut squash) veggies, safe starches (white rice, tapioca pearls, tapioca starch, arrowroot flour) or other grains if you can tolerate them, fruit (on occasion). It’s best to avoid fructose as the main carbohydrate source for refueling because this focuses more on replacing liver glycogen and you want to use your carbs to replace muscle glycogen first on the list.
Workouts of Choice –
- Early Morning WODS
o If you wake at 5am to work out and eating before the WOD isn’t an option try doing this fasted. Some people do just fine but others need a little protein and fat or carbs to get them going after fasting through the entire night. It is ideal to consume this small snack 30-60 minutes before your planned workout to avoid having cramps or feeling bloated and bogged down.
- Endurance Training
o Anything under 60 minutes doesn’t typically warrant your body to refuel at that moment in time. Sipping on water or electrolytes should do the trick.
o Once you hit the one hour mark supplying your body with dense carbs is essential.
- Olympic Training/Power Lifting:
o Typically you won’t need to replenish with meals between lifts, but you may want to think about supplementing with BCAA as this will help rebuild muscle or something glucose based to replenish between lifts.
- Crossfit WODs
o There is no need to fuel during a Crossfit workout unless you are doing one that is going to last a long time (Murph or another Hero WOD with a long duration). Most people however don’t typically fuel through the Crossfit WODs and look to replenish once they have completed the workout.
o If you want to refuel while doing a hero wod like Murph try sipping on BCAA powder in water or pills taken with water.
o Focus on replenishing your carbs following your workout. This will ensure they are utilized and not left hanging around in your body to be stored as fat.
- Refuel after WOD/Training/Weights etc
o Refuel with protein & carbs and lower to no fat following a workout session. This after WOD refuel is in addition to your other planned meals for the day.
- Bulk Up?
o Increase your protein to build muscle mass/gains/strength
o Increase your overall caloric consumption with your macros (protein, carbs & fat)
- Lose Fat/Lean Out?
o Decrease sugar consumption on the regular (acts as a carb in the body but also blocks absorption of nutrients when consumed regularly in the diet)
o Cut back on the booze
o Mass weight loss goals will need to be sure they aren’t consuming copious amounts of fat as their main energy source.
o Know portion sizes to keep an eye on potential over consumption of macros or those treats that often sneak up on all of us from time to time.
o Reduce overall caloric consumption of macros (protein, carbs & fat) – Fat have the highest caloric ratio of all the macros in the diet.
o If you consume a very low carb diet you will need fat to help keep your energy levels high. I don’t suggest staying in a ketogenic or low carb cycle for long periods of time. This can wreak havoc on the hormones in the body and cause the adrenals & thyroid to go wonky. We want these two working synergistically together in the body with the rest of our hormones. It’s okay to do this on occasion but not long term and only if you have stable blood sugar.