So…we’re your personal trainers. You pay us to make you sweat a lot, lift heavy things, and push your body really hard. What you DON’T pay us for is our advice and suggestions for a healthy lifestyle outside of the gym. That part we give away for free. ( lucky you!)
Why do we do this? Why don’t we just work you hard and send you home? You sweat a lot while you were here, so that must mean you are getting healthier, right? Kind of. Just about everyone who does CrossFit notices a positive body composition change and an increase in aerobic capacity and strength within the first few months, which is great, but it’s not everything. By only concentrating on what you do in the gym, you’re only reaping some of the benefits of the whole experience.
When you pay close attention to what you are putting into your body, and how your body reacts when that happens, you will be able to tweak your diet to ensure that you will have full nights of sleep, energy all day, and make significant progress in the gym. After all, food is a drug for your body. Food can only hurt or heal your body. And why would you want to hurt your body after you’ve spent your time and money to whip it into shape?
Here are a few guidelines for choosing foods that will help you Feel Good, Look Good, Perform Better and Live Long.
1. Only eat real foods. If you can pick it from the ground or a tree or hunt and cook it, it’s probably a safe bet that it’s a real food. Examples of real foods are vegetables, herbs, beef, pork, chicken, fish, eggs, and olive oil and coconut oil. Edibles that seem like real foods but are NOT are things that require processing before eating, such as grains and legumes (peanuts, beans and things made from beans such as tofu). Also, anything that contains a nutrition label or a list of ingredients isn’t a real food. For example, frozen dinners and pre-made dips and sauces might be made from real foods, but probably also contains some nasty chemicals, fillers and sugars – in which case, you’re better off just making that food at home. Also fruit, nuts and seeds are real foods, but don’t constitute a well-rounded meal. Instead, consider these your real food snacks.
2. If you eat meat, make sure it’s Grassfed and raised on a small farm. Small farms that let their cows and chicken roam free and eat what they are supposed to eat ( grass, seeds, etc) produce high quality meats that you can feel good about eating. Plus, if you are choosing not to eat grains, you are shortchanging yourself by choosing meat from factory farms, where the cows are fed grains (ie: you’re just eating grains that have been processed through a cow. yucky.)
3. End your love affair with sugar. We’re talking all added sugar, honey, stevia, agave nectar, etc. All sugars, even the kinds made from plants, are highly addictive and are out to hurt, not help, your body. Your doctor would never recommend increasing your sugar levels to increase your health. So why do we eat them? Ingesting sugars will raise your blood sugar levels, causing an insulin spike, which signals the body to store away the sugar in your fat cells, rather than using it as energy. The only sugars you should be eating come from fruits, and we recommend to only eat a single serving of fruit per day.
4. No Grains. Ever. At all. We learned from #1 that grains aren’t included in the “real foods” category, but it bears repeating because it’s simple to forget some of the foods that contain grains, such as all breads, cereals, crackers, chips, sandwiches, and anything that contains flour, breading, or the words ‘whole grain’.
Gluten is a protein found in grains that causes some really nasty side effects upon consumption. These sharp little proteins don’t get broken down completely upon digestion, and cause small tears in the lining of the small intestines. This allows nutrients from your intestines to float out into your bloodstream. When this happens, your body doesn’t absorb the nutrients of the food you just ate, and your body recognizes the free floating food particles as foreign bodies, inflammation occurs, and your body’s autoimmune response kicks in to help bring things back down to a normal state. Therefore, people who are sensitive to gluten, and even those of us who don’t notice much of a difference either way, are constantly engaging in an internal battle to return your body back to it’s normal state.
Plainly put, our bodies aren’t equipped to digest gluten. More on this here from Whole9, if you’re interested.
5. Beware of dairy. Dairy contains a protein called casein, that acts a lot like gluten and does some pretty bad things to your body. Also, milk contains sugar, which we know is bad for the body. The one exception to this is breast milk, which babies thrive on. Heavy cream and butter from pasture raised cows ( try Kerrygold) contain milk fat, but none of the proteins or sugars that are found in milk, so they are OK in our book, too.
6. Drink Water. And only water. And a lot of it. It’s the only beverage that will truly quench your thirst without giving you any extra calories or weird chemicals. It should go without saying that all sodas and juices are out, but sneaky advertising has made many people falsely assume that diet sodas and iced teas are fine, natural, or ‘good for you’. They aren’t. Just stick with water and you’ll start to see differences right away. If you’re attached to the fizz of sodas, try sparkling water. And if you love the sweetness of juices or sweetened iced teas, then squeeze a lemon, lime, watermelon or orange into your water. (Coffee and tea, are also OK in our book. Just don’t overdo it on the caffeine!)
7. Go food shopping often and cook your food every day. Try a new vegetable each week and find a recipe online for how to cook it. Use a slow cooker for meats (they are designed for people who can’t cook or people with limited time). Experiment with new recipes and how to cook and eat meals only using real foods. We have a lot more on the topic of cooking, but for now, we’ll just say -DO IT. It’s surprisingly easy and delicious!
If you’ve gotten this far in the post, you’re might be freaking out a little right now. Maybe you have a ton of questions, of you’re wondering why we recommend you eat this way, you don’t think this applies to you, or you think it will be impossible to stick to. Well, the good news is that you don’t have to make the big switch over to this style of eating all in one step.
Over the next few months, we’ll be posting “Baby Steps” to help you through the transition from what you’re eating now, to what your body actually wants. We’ll explore unhealthy relationships with food, and explain the thinking behind this way of eating. Finally, we’ll discuss ailments (everything from acne to bloating) and how they can be remedied by eating the right foods.
Now that’s you’ve seen our general diet suggestions, take a moment to read everything over again, absorb the information, and formulate your questions. Post them to the Comments, or email Alycia@crossfitaspire.com for some one-on-one Q&A.Posted in Nutrition Articles | Tagged Chicken, Fruit, Meat, Nutrition, Nuts, Oil, Seafood, Seeds, Vegetables | 9 Comments