Food is both fuel for your athletic performance and life and a drug that elicits numerous biochemical reactions upon consumption. For your health and your performance, it is critical that you understand this and adjust your nutrition to optimize both of them.
Protein should be lean and varied and account for about 30% of your total caloric load.
Carbohydrates should be predominantly low-glycemic and account for about 40% of your total caloric load.
Fat should be predominantly monounsaturated and account for about 30% of your total caloric load.
Calories should be set at between .7 and 1.0 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass depending on your activity level. The .7 figure is for moderate daily workout loads and the 1.0 figure is for the hardcore athlete.
What Should I Eat?
In plain language, base your diet on garden vegetables, especially greens, lean meats, nuts and seeds, little starch, and no sugar. That's about as simple as we can get. Many have observed that keeping your grocery cart to the perimeter of the grocery store while avoiding the aisles is a great way to protect your health. Food is perishable. The stuff with long shelf life is all suspect. If you follow these simple guidelines you will benefit from nearly all that can be achieved through nutrition.
Protein: Eggs, Meat - fish, pork, chicken, beef, bison, etc. Try to get grass fed beef and organic meat and eggs, free of hormones or antibiotics.
Carbs: Vegetables and Fruits (fruits are nature's candy and should be consumed in moderation)
Fat: Nuts, Seeds, Avocados, Olives and Oils (but never vegetable oils)
The Caveman or Paleolithic Model for Nutrition
Modern diets are ill suited for our genetic composition. 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. Search "Google" for Paleolithic nutrition, or diet. The return is extensive, compelling, and fascinating. The Caveman model is perfectly consistent with the CrossFit prescription.
What Foods Should I Avoid?
Excessive consumption of high-glycemic carbohydrates is the primary culprit in nutritionally caused health problems. High glycemic carbohydrates are those that raise blood sugar too rapidly. They include 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.
Anything that doesn't exist in nature, or has been processed. All grains (corn, rice, bread pasta oats, cereal), candy, white potatoes, sweets, sodas, and all 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 Problem with High-Glycemic Carbohydrates?
The problem with high-glycemic carbohydrates is that they give an inordinate insulin response. Insulin is an essential hormone for life, yet acute, chronic elevation of insulin leads to hyperinsulinism, which has been positively linked to obesity, elevated cholesterol levels, blood pressure, mood dysfunction and a Pandora's box of disease and disability. Research "hyperinsulinism" on the Internet. There's a gold mine of information pertinent to your health available there. 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. “Caloric Restriction” is another fruitful area for Internet search. 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.
Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.
Silent Inflammation 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).
You can use this site to calculate your fish oil needs: http://whole9life.com/fish-oil/
The sun is as vital to your health and well-being as food, shelter, water and oxygen. Most of us no longer get the requisite amount of sunshine and the result is most of us are vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D made in the skin lasts at least twice as long in the blood as vitamin D ingested from the diet. When you are exposed to sunlight, you make not only vitamin D but also at least five and up to ten additional photoproducts that you would never get from dietary sources or from a supplement. This lack of vitamin D has adverse affects on our health in numerous ways including weaker bones, immune issues, type 2 diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer's and Rheumatoid arthritis.
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)
Nuts and Seeds (avoid salted nuts/seeds)
Paleo "NO" Foods...
All processed foods made with any dairy products
Butter (some butter is ok and is way better than margerine)
Cheese (hard unprocessed cheese is ok in moderation)
Ice cream (opt for coconut ice cream)
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
Bacon (look for unsalted bacon free of nitrites)
Smoked, dried, and salted fish and meat
Virtually all canned meats and fish (unless they are unsalted or unless you soak and drain them)
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 moderate consumption. An occasional glass of wine, beer or spirits will not harm you and has been shown to have health benefits. 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 it's ok for 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.