“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”, “World Class Fitness in 100 Words”)
Nutrition is the foundation for performance: in fact, nutrition is the base of the pyramid Crossfit founder Greg Glassman created, with met-cons, gymnastics, weight lifting and sport all being supported by it. What we put into our bodies greatly affects how we look, feel, and perform, but most people make nutrition secondary in their training. So what should we eat? There are a few ways of eating that Crossfit promotes: Paleo and the “Zone Diet.”
PALEO VS ZONE DIET
The paleo diet is based upon eating grass-fed meats, fish and seaford, fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, nuts and seeds, and healthful oils (Olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, coconut). Grains, dairy, potatoes, refined sugars and vegetable oils and salt are all on “the don’t-eat list” for the paleo diet. Paleo is extremely clean and if you follow the Paleo diet you are encouraged to eat as much as you feel necessary. It is extremely effective for weight maintenance or weight loss depending on the quantity of food you eat, and provides many long-term life benefits.
If performance is your primary motive, than you might want to look more closely at the Zone Diet. Historically crossfit’s best athletes have adhered to the Zone Diet, and we generally find an increase in performance when athletes who did not previously follow it, begin to do so. It requires a little bit of work on your part as directly adhering to it requires weighing and measuring your foods, and arranging your meals into equal “blocks” of carbs, protein and fats. The average crossfitter, who works out once a day for approximately an hour, will be able to take their lean body mass and multiply it by 0.1 to determine how many blocks you should eat per day. If you are completing 2 workouts a day you would multiply you LBM by 0.11 to calculate your blocks. 1 block equates to 7 g protein, 9 g carbohydrate and 1.5 g fat. The foods you can eat in the Zone include all of those in Paleo but also allow for dairy, legumes, potatoes (preferably sweet potatoes) and occasionally starches.
Each of these diets require a bit of focused adherence. If you find they are both too much for you simply start to clean up your diet by trying to follow the Zone guidelines, which are a little more lenient on what you can eat, to the best of your abilities, and go from there.
What Works BEST For You?
Ultimately it depends on the individual as far as whether to do Paleo, Zone Diet, or just Eating Clean. Each of you needs to find what works best for you. It is also important to find something you can stick to long term.
We encourage you to consider the 80/20 rule. Life happens and things come up, so as long as you stick to your meal plan 80% of the time, you can allow yourself to indulge for the other 20% and still be ok. It’s ok to cheat every once in a while. What’s the point of increasing your longevity and quality of life if you can’t enjoy it and let loose every once in a while? In the end, everyone should consume a diet that is wholesome and includes a variety of foods from different food groups for the majority of the time. Just try to keep it clean.