Crossfit is a fitness trend started by focusing on performance and the results that bring. It offered a more effective way of training. Therefore, for an athlete or those who train like an athlete, it is important to eat like one, too.
The more effective way of training means that you also need to find a more effective way of fueling your body. Likewise, nutrition needs to allow your body to recover, replenish, and refuel itself.
Food is the best medicine and following a diet that is right for you will do wonders. Therefore, we want to share some popular diets among cross-fitters and things that you need to pay attention to.
What meal plan to choose
Keep in mind that every meal plan or diet needs to be a good fit for your individual needs. Therefore, the most important step for CrossFit athletes’ is to tailor a diet to their needs so that their athletic performance can be improved. Things that you should consider:
- Your weekly and daily amount of physical activity and your current physical preparedness
- Gender and age
- Foods you like or dislike
- Body type
- Type of your job – stressful or relaxing, sedentary or active
- Your goal
- Past eating habits and your relationship with food
You can decide to follow any of the CrossFit dietary intakes recommended, or just make smart food choices and balance your diet to achieve your goal. We have four popular diets that CrossFit athletes use:
1. The paleo diet
This was probably the most popular among CrossFit a few years back. It requires you to `imitate` the eating habits of our ancestors and not eat all grains and gluten, any kinds of processed products, and milk products. It is different that other CrossFit diets because it supports eating animal fats and bacon, and it is one of the most popular choices among followers.
However, some people decide to start with paleo but later switch to a relaxed regime. They keep grains and milk products in their meal plans. If you want to start this diet, shop for anything but gluten, grains, and milk. Foods that you must have in your kitchen are sweet potato, coconut oil, beefsteak, and bacon.
2. The zone diet
This is a well-known eating regime and it was developed more than thirty years ago. The goal was to reduce the inflammation that diet can induce. This diet, like others, focuses on choosing the healthy and right foods, but it requires you to be more precise. To clarify, followers should pick foods with healthy fats and lower glycaemic index.
If you want to start this diet, you should make your plate so it has one-third of protein, two-thirds of carbs, and a dash of monounsaturated fasts. Additionally, remove all processed foods and sugar products from your kitchen and shop for food with a low glycaemic index.
3. Clean eating
This type of diet requires you to avoid all junk food. You don`t have to calculate or measure anything, just avoid processed foods that contain sugar and saturated fats and try to eat as natural food as possible.
The rule of clean eating is that you eat eighty percent of clean and healthy food and twenty percent is your free choice. Meaning, eat whatever you crave. Make sure that carbs, fats, and protein are included in your meals. If you are sleepy or washed out, add more carbs. But, if you feel weak add more protein and fats.
To start this diet, focus on adding more meat, or protein in general and non-procced foods to your menu. Furthermore, slowly start removing the fatty and sugary snacks until the eighty-twenty rule becomes a habit.
4. Counting macros
This diet is a form of clean eating, but with a twist. You have to track the macronutrients( fats, carbs, and protein) that you intake. However, it doesn`t mean that you can eat whatever you want because good choices are still important.
Therefore, this diet supports you to have a sweet treat each day to prevent overeating that can be triggered by restriction. It works great if you want to get to know your body better and find out what amount of macros will fuel your performance best.
If you want to start this diet you can calculate your macro needs by starting with a basic rule – forty percent protein, forty percent of carbs, and twenty percent of fats. Additionally, you can use a web calculator for macros, or hire a nutritionist who helps you set the starting macros for you.
Trying any of the specific diets is something that can make you feel better and improve your performance. However, if this nutrition that some CrossFit athletes use is making you feel miserable, it is a sign that they might not be a good choice for you.
If it is stressing you out, just try to use a different approach, because when you are stressed, it can be a big problem regarding your health and performance as well.
What to pay attention to when following a CrossFit diet
Starting a new diet is not something that comes easy, but it can be less stressful when you know what to consider when putting a nutrition plan, where to start, and what to prioritize. There are things that you need to pay attention to
1. The timing
For active people, knowing when to eat can be a problem. You already know that you should eat before, during, and after a workout, but how long before or after, and what should that be can be a little bit tricky. Nutrient timing is a thing that can make a difference in your performance.
Training on an empty stomach is not going to help you have optimal performance, so make sure you fuel your body correctly. In the ideal case, you should eat a minimum-sized meal, three to four hours before a workout, and a small amount of fast-digesting carbs and protein half an hour before. If you work out in the mornings, you will skip the meal but make sure to fuel up half an hour before.
If you are going to exercise longer than one hour, it will be helpful to eat carbs and protein during your workout. To clarify, consume fast-digesting carbs with smaller amounts of fast-digesting protein.
After any type of workout, we must have a snack or meal, so our recovery process can start. Muscles that were recently trained are very sensitive to carbohydrates, so after a workout is the ideal time to consume carbs so your muscles can refuel. Additionally, you should eat protein, too because that will ensure that muscle repair begins. Keep fats at a minimum because they will slow down the process of digesting carbohydrates.
Before going to bed
Recovery from one day to the next can happen if you eat the right type of food before bed. However, if you eat the wrong type of food too close to bedtime you can get gastrointestinal distress or disrupt sleep. The best choice would be to have a bedtime snack such as a protein with low-fat or any alternative milk.
When you understand the number of calories that you need to fuel your workouts you will have a big factor to help you improve your CrossFit performance. If you don`t eat enough, workouts will have enough fuel, but your body functions will suffer. For instance, you might feel like you have problems thinking properly or concentrating.
A good start would be to calculate your calorie needs to keep your current weight. You can estimate it when you multiply your weight in pounds by fifteen. That is roughly what you need daily when having a moderate training session.
For the days when you rest, take three hundred calories off that amount. Therefore, if you have double training days when you have hard and moderate workouts, just add three hundred calories.
Remember that this is all approximately and you might need to adjust to find the correct number for you. Weigh yourself every week for a few weeks and you will be able to see if it is working. You should not gain or lose more than 1.25 percent of your body weight.
After figuring out calories, we need to split them into carbohydrates, fat, and protein.
They are in charge of powering the contraction of your muscle cells which is essential when you do any type of workout, especially CrossFit or strength training. Change your carbohydrate intake depending on your training days. Therefore, on your training days you will need more, and when you are not training you will need fewer.
These are vital to our health because they regulate hormones that control a lot of processes in our body. The minimum amount of fats per day is 0.3 grams per pound of our body weight. After eating this minimum amount of fats, if you consume more, it can help you hit your target number of calories if needed.
Your body will not be able to repair or grow muscles if you do not have enough protein. Additionally, during your workout sessions, your body will use your muscle tissue as fuel. Therefore, protein is the most important macronutrient for getting and keeping muscles. For CrossFit and anyone who has strength training, the recommended amount is 1 gram per pound of body weight.
4. The composition of food
Another important part is that you pay attention to the quality of the food you are eating. Therefore, you need to choose high-quality foods for each of the macros.
A good quality protein is complete so it has all the important amino acids your body needs. Likewise, it is the one that is well-digested by the body. It needs to contain vitamins, fiber, and minerals. You should choose fish, eggs, lean cuts of meat, beans, tempeh, plain yogurt, and similar.
Quality carbohydrates are digested slowly by the body and they are nutrient-dense. You will need fast-digesting carbs only around your workouts. Good quality carbs are oats, quinoa, beans, sweet potato, fresh and frozen fruit, plain yogurt, whole grain bread, or pasta. Fast-digesting carbs include white rice, Gatorade, potatoes, and protein powders.
Fats’ quality depends on their type, so there can be monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, saturated, and trans fat. You need to eat the right quantities for each group. Healthy fats that you should include in your diet are egg yolks, peanuts, pistachios, olives, extra virgin olive oil, chia, flax seeds, and avocado.
This is the last thing that you should add to your diet and they can make difference in your CrossFit performance, but only if you did the first four things before. First, make sure that you are choosing good quality foods, eating enough of each macronutrient, enough carbs, and at the right times.
Use them wisely and correctly and you will see that they can help you with performance if that is something that you need. Proven supplements are whey protein, caffeine, creatine, multivitamins and minerals, omega-3, and casein protein.
Choosing the right meal plan might sound difficult, but using these tips and checking the different diets we offered will ease the stress. Therefore, for any concerns and questions, we offer our insight and advice.
To conclude, make sure that you are choosing good quality food and that you intake the right quantities at the right time for you throughout your day. We are cheering for your great general health and amazing CrossFit performance.