We all have goals – breaking them down into smaller, achievable subsets of the ultimate goal is the quickest way to success because we succeed over and over again with small victories which helps keep us on track. Many of us know or knew our diets played a huge part of our success or failure in CrossFit, our aesthetic goals…and many aspects of our lives. We just have to hone it in.
The REAL question is: what is “honing in”?
Let’s just throw a few facts out there so that we all can both agree and get along to each of our approaches to diet (and some lifestyle) factors that, beyond our training, contribute to our overall fitness. There is a lot of information on the interwebs about diet and it’s mind-numbingly varied!
TRUTH: EVERYTHING WORKS
It does. If you stick with it, everything works: KETO, IF, IIFYM, RP, WAG, POWER ATHLETE, MACROSTAX, PALEO, LOW CARB, HIGH PROTEIN, VEGETARIAN, CALORIE TRACKING…seriously, it all works, if done right. The problem is most of us don’t stick with things for an extended period of time. 30-90 day is a LONG FREAKING TIME. Consistency always pays off in the end.
TRUTH: TO CROSSFIT SUCCESSFULLY, YOU NEED CARBOHYDRATE FROM STARCH.
A low carbohydrate diet (considered generally under 100 grams of carbohydrate/starch per day) will not yield the performance results that a diet high enough in “starch” to fuel an athletes training level will. Sure, you can CrossFit on a Keto of low carb diet, but you’ll bonk on shorter, more intense or heavier WODs while skating through the longer ones. High levels of glycolytic performance require a substrate in the blood (like glucose) to fuel muscle contractions. Sure, fat can be used for fuel but the rate at which it is converted to fuel isn’t fast enough for our sport.
So while you CAN CrossFit on a low carb diet, you will not see the performance you could if your carbohydrate levels were higher. If you are on a low carb diet for weight loss, then that’s what you’re doing. You’re not on a low carb diet to enhance your athletic performance in CrossFit.
TRUTH: A DIET VARIED IN SOURCES FOR PROTEIN, FAT AND CARBS IS HEALTHIER THAN ONE WITH LESS VARIETY
Different sources of protein contain different amino acid profiles, all benefiting your body in good ways. The same goes for the micronutrients in plants and the lipid profiles in fat. A more constantly varied diet will provide a broader range of amino acids and micronutrients and therefore more overall health benefit from a higher level of nutrients.
A diet of chicken, spinach, avocado, and white rice, while it may get you to your performance and/or body composition goals will not yield the overall health goals that a diet varied in animal protein, vegetables, starches and fats.
TRUTH: THE QUALITY AND QUANTITY OF YOUR SLEEP IS AS IMPORTANT AS YOUR DIET
Both your “sleep hygiene” (the quality of your sleep: pitch black room, low noise level, cool temps, mattress preference…), the lack of artificial stimulants or aids for sleep, and how long you sleep (6-9 hours) can make as much difference in your performance as what you eat. More and more data is being published on the importance of sleep in overall health and in athletic performance. The unfortunate misnomer “sleep when you’re dead” may produce more deadly results than the popular slang phrase ever knew.
There are no shortcuts…that help you maintain a high level of health and performance. Hunker down and stay in it for the long haul. Find what works for you and stick with it, because EVERYTHING WORKS.