Nutrition is the foundation for all athletic development and essential for achieving elite fitness and health. The CrossFit nutrition prescription in it's simplest terms is "Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar." This ensures that you are eating "real food," the food that our hunter-gatherer ancestors have eaten for millions of years, and avoiding the processed "edible food-like substances" that come in boxes, bags and packages.
Evolution has not kept pace with advances in agriculture and food processing resulting in a plague of health problems for modern man. Coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and psychological dysfunction have all been scientifically linked to a diet too high in refined or processed carbohydrate. Many have observed that keeping your grocery cart to the perimeter of the grocery store while avoiding the aisles is a great way to improve health. Real food is perishable. The stuff with long shelf life is all suspect. An easy rule is "If you can hunt it or gather it, you can eat it."
If you follow these simple guidelines you will benefit from nearly all that can be achieved through nutrition.
What Should I Eat?
Protein: Fish, Meat, Chicken, Eggs
Carbs: Fruits and Veggies
Fat: Nuts, Seeds, Avocados, Olives and Oils
What Foods Should I Avoid?
Anything that doesn't exist in nature, or has been processed. Corn, rice, bread, candy, potato, sweets, sodas, and most processed carbohydrates. Processing can include bleaching, baking, grinding, and refining. Processing of carbohydrates greatly increases their glycemic index, a measure of their propensity to elevate blood sugar.
What is the Deal With Hormones?
Hormones regulate how the body stores and releases fat. The hormonal response your body has to food determines whether you store fat or burn it. As far as hormones are concerned, food is a drug--a very powerful drug. Consuming low-glycemic foods, that keep insulin levels steady, will allow stored body fat to burned up as a fuel. On the other hand, high-glycemic foods (especially processed carbohydrates) spike insulin levels, raise blood sugar, and send a double wammy message to your body telling it to (1) store calories as fat and (2)block body fat from being used as fuel. The CrossFit prescription is a low-glycemic diet and consequently severely blunts the insulin response.
Caloric Restriction and Longevity
Current research strongly supports the link between caloric restriction and an increased life expectancy. The incidence of cancers and heart disease sharply decline with a diet that is carefully limited in controlling caloric intake. The CrossFit prescription is consistent with this research. The CrossFit prescription allows a reduced caloric intake and yet still provides ample nutrition for rigorous activity.
Silent Inflamation and Fish Oil
Although you can not feel Silent Inflammation, your body mounts a hormonal response in an attempt to dampen its affect at the molecular level. If not contained, you now rapidly accumulate additional body fat. When inflamed fat cells go bad, Silent Inflammation exits the cell, enters the plasma and becomes systemic increasing numerous health risks related to heart, brain and immune function. Silent Inflammation not only makes you fat and keeps you fat, but erodes your wellness.
Controlling and minimizing Silent Inflammation is the desired hormonal foundation for successful weight loss and optimal heart, brain and immune function. You will not only affect your quality of life today, but many years in the future.
Efficient reduction of silent inflammation requires using high dose ultra refined fish oil. These fatty acids aid in thinning the blood, which helps reduce inflammation factors in joints and blood vessels. This allows for better circulation in the heart and brain as well as reducing aches and pains. Omega-3 has also been shown to increase HDL "good cholesterol" levels This may explain why populations that consume the most fish have the lowest rates of autoimmune disorders in the world.
You should aim for .5 grams of EPA + DHA for every 10 lbs of body weight. For example, I weigh 170 lbs, so I should be taking 8.5 grams daily (170 lbs/10 = 17, 17 x .5 = 8.5 grams).
Paleo "YES" foods...
Thank you to Creighton University for providing this list.
Top sirloin steak
Extra-lean hamburger (no more than 7% fat, extra fat drained off)
Any other lean cut
Any other lean cut
Lean poultry (skin removed)
Game hen breasts
Chicken (go for the enriched omega 3 variety)
Rabbit meat (any cut)
Goat meat (any cut)
Beef, lamb, pork, and chicken livers
Beef, pork, and lamb tongues
Beef, lamb, and pork marrow
Beef, lamb, and pork “sweetbreads”
New Zealand cervena deer
Any other commercially available fish
All other fruits
Peppers (all kinds)
Squash (all kinds)
Tomato (actually a fruit, but most people think of it as a vegetable)
Nuts and Seeds
Paleo "NO" Foods...
All processed foods made with any dairy products
Nonfat dairy creamer
Barley (barley soup, barley bread, and all processed foods made with barley)
Corn (corn on the cob, corn tortillas, corn chips, corn starch, corn syrup)
Oats (steel-cut oats, rolled oats, and all processed foods made with oats)
Rice (brown rice, white rice, top ramen, rice noodles, bas mati rice, rice cakes, Rice flour (all processed foods made with rice)
Rye (rye bread, rye crackers, and all processed foods made with rye)
Wheat (bread, rolls, muffins, noodles, crackers, cookies, cake, doughnuts, pancakes, waffles, pasta, spaghetti, lasagna, wheat tortillas, pizza, pita bread, flat bread, and all processed foods made with wheat or wheat flour)
Cereal Grainlike Seeds
All beans (adzuki beans, black beans, broad beans, fava beans, field beans, garbanzo beans, horse beans, kidney beans, lima beans, mung beans, navy beans, pinto beans, red beans, string beans, white beans)
Sugar snap peas
Soybeans and all soybean products, including tofu
Potatoes and all potato products (French fries, potato chips, etc.)
Almost all commercial salad dressings and condiments
Smoked, dried, and salted fish and meat
Virtually all canned meats and fish (unless they are unsalted or unless you soak and drain them)
Chicken and turkey skin
Chicken and turkey wings
Fatty beef roasts
Fatty cuts of beef
Fatty ground beef
Fatty pork chops
Fatty pork roasts
Leg of lamb
Soft Drinks and Fruit Juices
All sugary soft drinks
Canned, bottled, and freshly squeezed fruit drinks (which lack the fiber of fresh fruit and have a much higher glvcemic index)
Stone Age Substitutions from The Paleo Diet
Salt: Powdered garlic, powdered onion, lemon juice, lime juice, lemon crystals, lemon pepper free of salt, cayenne pepper, chili powder, commercially available salt-free spice mixes, black pepper, cumin, turmeric, ground cloves, oregano, ground allspice, celery seeds, coriander seeds, ground cardamom seeds, or any spice or combination of spices can be used to replace salt. I do not recommend using any of the so-called "lite" salts or potassium chloride salts because chloride, like sodium, is undesirable when it comes to your health.
Vinegar: Substitute small amounts of vinegar with lemon or lime juice (fresh or reconstituted from fresh).
Butter/Fat: Replace butter, margarine, shortening, lard etc. with olive oil, flaxseed oil, walnut oil, canola oil, or avocado oil. Olive oil has a wonderful flavor and is high in the health promoting monounsaturated fats but generally has a poor omega-6 to omega-3 fat ratio (~13). The same situation exists for avocado oil, and these two oils should be frequently complemented by or blended together with other oils containing better (lower) omega-6 to omega-3 ratios such as flaxseed (0.24), canola (2.0) or walnut (5.1) oils.
Sugars: Concentrated sugars of any kind even natural sugars (honey, maple sugar, date sugar), really were not a staple component in most pre-agricultural diets. Sugars should be obtained primarily from fruits and vegetables and not from concentrated sources. That being said, fruit purees, flavored with lemon juice and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, mint leaves, ginger, vanilla, and other spices), can be used in recipes to add sweetness to sauces, condiments, and desserts.
Alcohol: Alcoholic beverages were clearly not a component of true Stone Age diets, and should be limited to an occasional glass of wine, beer or spirits as a part of your "open meals." Wine, as long as it does not contain salt (as most cooking wines do), can be used to marinate meats and add flavor to many cooked dishes. When wine is used in this context, the amount of added alcohol and sugar is negligible – furthermore, wine contains a number of health promoting phytochemicals and antioxidants.
Post Work Out
Post workout is the one time we will allow a slight deviation from Paleo. If you are unable to stomach solid foods after training a protein drink is a great alternative. For fast and complete recovery we suggest a post workout protein shake and some sweet potatoes. You should mix the protein with water (aim for 20-30 grams), and eat 3-9 ounces of sweet potatoes. If your primary goal is to decrease body fat and get leaner skip the potatoes. If you just finished Murph, Eva, Badger or other 30+ minute intense workout, go higher on the starches to replace glycogen. Your performance the next day is dependent on it.