The short version of the CrossFit dietary prescription:
Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.
More details on the CrossFit dietary prescription:
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.
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, potatos, 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 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.com
The Paleo Diet is a way of eating in the modern age that best mimics diets of our hunter-gatherer ancestors – combinations of lean meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. By eating the foods that we are genetically adapted to eat, followers of the Paleo Diet are naturally lean, have acne-free skin, improved athletic performance, and are experiencing relief from numerous metabolic-related and autoimmune diseases.
The Paleo Diet the world’s healthiest diet, is based on the simple understanding that the best human diet is the one to which we are best genetically adapted. It is supported by documented scientific evidence and by real-life improvements, even triumphs, of people winning their personal health battles.
Zone At-a-Glance™ – The Simplified Approach to get you started
On 1/3rd of your plate, put a piece of lean protein the size and thickness of your palm. Examples: skinless chicken, fish, egg whites, tofu.
Fill the remaining 2/3rds of your plate with fruits and/or vegetables. Most fruits and vegetables are fine, but avoid things like corn and bananas.
Add a dash of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Examples: Olive Oil, Almonds, Avocado.
Zone Blocks™ – The Precision Approach to keep you going
Read CrossFit Journal 21 to find out more info about Zone Blocks, determine your block requirement, review block chart and sample meals. CFJ Issue 21: Zone Meal Plans
- Find out how many Zone Blocks you are allowed to consume in a day. Zone Block Calculator »
- Download the Blocks Guide and use this as a reference to assemble meals and snacks in exact proportions. Download Zone Blocks Guide »
References & Other Useful Links
- CFJ Issue 15: Nutrition -Avoiding Metabolic Derangement
- FitDay – free diet & weight loss journal
- Everyday Paleo – great daily ideas from the crossfit trainer, wife and a mother of three
- Paleo Kits – real food for real athletes
- Paleo Breakfast Recipes (.pdf courtesy of Nikki Young of paleocookbook.com)
- Performance Menu Recipes
- The Son of Grok Recipes
- The Paleolithic Diet Resources and Links Page
- Real Food Shopping List from fitnessspotlight.com
- …and when your friends and family members ask what “Paleo” is, show them this youtube video