Most serious CrossFitters adhere to either the Paleo Diet, the Zone Diet, or some blend of the two. Christina and Jeff Barnett have compiled some information on the Zone Diet to make it easy for anyone to understand, complete with a thorough Zone block chart and pictures of example Zone meals. While we actually recommend first focusing on quality of food by shopping the perimeter of the grocery store, balancing your portions and carb/protein/fat intake with the Zone is an incredibly valuable tool for both elite athletes seeking the best CrossFit diet and everyday people seeking weight loss. To take your nutrition to the next level you need the hormonal balance that the Zone Diet provides. Read on to find out more, and when you’re done use this PDF file to find the block equivalent of most common foods. It’s even color-coded! Figuring out your perfect 4 block zone dinner couldn’t be easier.crossfit diet
Diet comes from the Greek language and means “way of life”. A diet is a lifestyle–not a set of draconian rules that you blindly follow. The Zone Diet controls gene expression and hormonal balance to give you the longer and better life to which we all aspire.
The Zone diet is primarily concerned with controlling your hormones. Hormonal balance affects all important components of your wellness: body composition, energy utilization, blood chemistry, and much more. Food is a drug. This may seem shocking, but think about the definition of a drug. Loosely, ingesting drugs causes physiological changes in your body. Ingesting food has the same effect. It can bring about positive or negative changes in your body. Would you take 17 Tylenol capsules for a headache? Would you consume expired, low-quality medicine? Of course not. Then why should we expect different results when we feed our bodies 17 times our necessary food intake, and comprise our diet of low-quality processed garbage with no nutritional value? You see the results of this lifestyle in America today.
The Zone Diet isn’t about eating “low-carb” or “high-protein” or anything like that. It’s a diet balanced in
• Protein (lean, natural meats are preferred)
• Carbs (mostly low glycemic-load fruits and vegetables)
• Fat (one of the most important macronutrients!)
With the right balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats, you can control three major hormones generated by the human diet – insulin, glucagon and eicosanoids.
Insulin – A storage hormone. Excess insulin makes you fat and keeps you fat. It also acceleratessilent inflammation.
Glucagon – A mobilization hormone that tells the body to release stored carbohydrates at a steady rate, leading to stabilized blood sugar levels. This is key for optimal mental and physical performance.
Eicosanoids – These are the hormones that ultimately control silent inflammation. They are also master hormones that indirectly orchestrate a vast array of other hormonal systems in your body.
So you start your new diet – maybe it’s a paleo challenge. 30 days strict. (Or perhaps it’s another diet / eating plan you decided to take on). Perhaps you also committed to other lifestyle changes.
You start with enthusiasm. You look forward to being in control of your intake, eating in a more disciplined and healthy way. You also look forward to the results your effort will bring; health improvements, body composition changes, improved sports performance.
All goes well for a few days or a week, or maybe even two.
- Someone brings a cake to work – and you can’t resist a piece.
- It’s your best friend’s birthday and you have a glass of wine (or 5), and your self-control goes out the window and you don’t care what you put in your mouth.
- You are thoroughly sick of eating boring vegetables, and that bar of chocolate just jumps into your mouth, because lets face it – you deserve it – you’ve been so good.
What happens next? Guilt?
You have a piece of cake at work, or the bar of chocolate – but you don’t really enjoy it, you eat it quickly and guiltily. You regret your slip in self-control. You beat yourself up. You are annoyed at your weakness.
And then what do you do? What is the next decision you make?
Do you then decide to starve yourself – punishment? Or do you give up?
I frequently see the giving up. “I’ve blown my diet now – I’ll just eat what I feel like for the rest of the day” Then the rest of the day you eat whatever rubbish you feel like, with a mixture of relish and guilt. The next morning the scales show a 2 pound increase in weight, so you feel even more disheartened. You were going to have a good day today – but you feel so crap about what the scales just old you that you don’t see the point anymore. (You lose sight of the fact that the majority of the weight you have gained will be water, glycogen, and probably food in your intestines, from the carb and food loading)
Here’s an analogy for you to consider:
If you are late for work one day, what do you do? Do you beat yourself up for being so weak, then decide that seeing as you’ve blown it today you might as well be late everyday, and for every appointment?
Or you have just messed up a work project, or assignment, or presentation – what ever. Do you then say “Blow it – I don’t care – I’m just going to give up and do badwork from now on”?
Most people I know don’t do that.
If I’m late, I look at what contributed to me being late, and commit to being on time at the very next appointment.
If I messed up an assignment, or something at work didn’t go as well as it should have, or I let someone down – I might ask for feedback and advice, get support, analyse what happened and work out a strategy to improve.
So why do we have a grown up response to one broken commitment (say at work, but could be a relationship problem etc) and a completely immature and childish reaction in another area of life? (In this case your commitment to healthy eating)
Is this you? If so what will you do next time?
Here is what I find works for me.
If there is a glass of wine or a goody that is tempting – I choose to have it – or not. We often act as though someone else is making us, or we can’t help ourself, we HAVE to make up a justification, and that justification is how we let ourself off the hook. If you don’t know what I mean by this – take a look at the next sentence and fill in the rest
I ate it because ____________ Whatever is after the because, is your justification. A justification in some circumstances is the way you excuse yourself and let yourself off the hook. It stops you taking responsibility for your action. (You blame something or someone else)
A more useful and guilt free way of having something that isn’t on the food list, is to choose. I’m going to my best friends party – so I choose to have a 2 glasses of wine, and I will enjoy it, guilt free. I put it on my list – just for today.
When you are next offered a piece of cake – will you choose it – or not choose it? If you do choose it – will you then be responsible for your choice – WITHOUT GUILT? If you do choose to eat a piece of cake – ENJOY IT. Savour it, eat it slowly and thoughtfully. Eating one piece of cake does not make you a failure – if you chose it thoughtfully, taking full responsibility for the consequences.
However – maybe you did just eat a some junk food. And you felt guilty. Fair enough, you let yourself down. Now handle the mess-up like you might any other mess up – say at work. Look at what contributed, figure out a strategy to avoid messing up again, and recommit.
Another way I have “all or nothing” or “I’m a failure if I mess up once” clients look at their eating habits is in percentages. In lots of other areas of life we aren’t perfect. If you were to rate yourself in your job – would you give yourself 100%? In your relationship, or as a parent? I know I wouldn’t. Yet why do we think in our eating – it’s either 100% or give up? Give yourself a mark out of 100 – anything over 80 is an A after all.
Something else to consider – Our environment is NOT set up to support us, any of us.
When we go to work – there is usually a strong external support. We will get in trouble if we are late, or do not do the work our boss expects of us. Even if we are self-employed – we don’t like to let people down, we value our reputation, and we need to earn money.
Our eating though is different. As a hunter – gatherer our environment dictated what we could eat, and we needed to put in considerable physical effort to procure and prepare our food. No longer. We have NO (or practically no) external factors stopping us eating whatever we feel like, what’s more our external environment actually encourages to eat things that do not support our health. We must either create an external environment that supports us, OR create a strong internal drive that can resist the lack of external support.
That takes something, often huge willpower, which goes against (IMO) all our natural drives. Think about it; hunter -gatherers or even agriculturalists (growing their own food) had to put considerable willpower and work into getting food. We have to put considerable willpower and mental work into stopping eating. A very unnatural habit from a survival point of view. This is why it is not easy. However this does not mean it is impossible. It takes effort and we need to acknowledge that. Stop thinking it SHOULD be easy, it is more likely to be hard. Acknowledge your successes, however small they might look.
A recent commenter brought to my attention that I have not yet published any sample meal plans. I have been meaning to get this up for a while, so here they finally are. For my family, breakfast is always vegetable and meat omelets and occasionally almond pancakes with fresh strawberries. Lunch is some variation of leftovers from the night before on a salad or wrapped in romaine lettuce. Dinner is always a protein and lots of veggies. Have better ideas for meals? Leave some feedback!
“Wellness Lifestyle” One Week Meal Plans
Note: Breakfast each day is 2 egg omelet with as much veggies and meats as you want to add (can be good use for some leftovers from night before)
Lunch-Chicken salad over lettuce with carrot sticks