You Can’t Out-Train a Bad Diet

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CrossFit RVA

Last weekend, I went to the CrossFit Nutrition Certification, headed up by Robb Wolf, owner of one of the first CrossFit gyms, and frequent contributor and co-founder of the Performance Menu, and previously a research biochemist. So, he knows a thing or two.

I had a great time at the Certification. For the most part, these
were things I had already been exposed to. The cert espoused a
combination of Paleo foods (Lean meats, vegetables, nuts, some starch,
no sugar), in some cases combined with modified versions of the Zone
diet (40% Carbs, 30% Protein, 30% Fat), adjusted to fit individual
needs. Additionally, we received a crash-course in Endocrinology and
the digestive system, to try and understand the underlying mechanisms
of an effective nutritional plan, instead of merely “black boxing”
everything. A little post-workout nutrition, a condemnation of grains,
dairy,and legumes, and we were good to go.

If you’re stuck eating like it’s a 5 year old’s birthday party,
stuffing yourself with hot dogs, ice cream and cake, you’ll eventually
look on the whiteboard and see your times aren’t improving, look in the
mirror and realize you don’t look any different than you did 6 months
ago, and wake up in the morning and still feel the effects of that
workout from three days ago.

Not to say that I did not learn anything factual at the cert,
because I did. But what I took home with me had much more to do with
the effectiveness of a properly implemented diet, rather than the
comparative ratios of n-3/n-6 in Paleolithic and Modern man. We were
shown not just the requisite before and afters, but blood work showing
dramatically lowered triglycerides, blood pressure, and blood glucose
levels. We heard stories of some of CrossFit’s best making simple
changes to their diet, resulting in new PR’s, both in metcons and
strength work, as well as favorable body composition changes.

So, this is what I ask, for anyone willing to listen and put in the
effort. For a moment, put down your caramel macchiato (but God I love
black coffee!), your Coke, or that cream cheese smeared bagel, and take
a look at what you’re eating. OK, so maybe you aren’t eating that
badly, but I can say with certainty that many of our members put little
thought into what actually goes into their mouths. (Keep it appropriate
here DP) With more certainty I can say that few have put the time and
effort into dialing in their diet to maximize the performance,
recovery, and positive body composition changes gained from hard
training.

Why? Because it’s hard. Sometimes it is easier to put out hard for
15 minutes and collapse in a sweaty heap than it is to put in the time
necessary to track, plan, and execute a nutrition plan. But sadly
enough, you can’t out-train a bad diet. Through diet, you can ensure
that you are fueled optimally during your workouts, reduce inflammation
and promote recovery, and hasten fat loss and muscle gains. If you’re
stuck eating like it’s a 5 year old’s birthday party, stuffing yourself
with hot dogs, ice cream and cake, you’ll eventually look on the
whiteboard and see your times aren’t improving, look in the mirror and
realize you don’t look any different than you did 6 months ago, and
wake up in the morning and still feel the effects of that workout from
three days ago.

Think about it, have you achieved the goals you sought when
beginning CrossFit, all of them? Sure, you look, feel and perform
better, but do you look, feel, and perform at what you know to be your
best? Are you satisfied? If you aren’t, know that outside of the
genetically and chemically gifted, you won’t get everything you’re
looking for without putting in a little effort on the diet side of the
equation.

The diet/nutrition world lacks much in the way of foundational
principles that everyone can agree on. There’s huge disagreements
concerning just about everything; levels and types of carbs, necessary
amount of protein, amounts and which types of fats are little molecules
of satan in disguise, etc… So what can you, the informed CrossFitter,
do? Try Paleo. Don’t measure, count, or anything of that nature, but
simply address the quality, not quantity of your food. If you don’t
look, feel, and perform better, after a month, then quit, and do
something else. I’m sure Dr. Ornish or McDougal would love to sell you
a book. Otherwise, keep at it, and see where it takes you. My bet is
that you’ll be a better CrossFitter for it.

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