If you spend any time here at CrossFit 3xF you will hear me say that 80% of your results depend on your nutrition and 20% depends on what you do in here. There is something that you will hear a lot of fitness professionals refer to as the 23 to 1 rule. The 23 to 1 rule basically states that even if you are busting your butt an hour out of every day in the gym, you still have 23 hours to screw it up! That's why what you do outside of the gym is more important than what you do inside of the gym. If you want to make changes you have to change your nutrition.
But What do I eat!?
There are a ton of different ways to make positive changes in your nutrition and although I usually like to avoid making blanket statements I can tell you what has worked for me and my clients. In general, the most effective way I have seen to fuel your body while making positive body composition changes is to portion your food in "Zone" ratios and stick to low glycemic index and minimally processed foods.
The Zone diet advocates eating your macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) in ratios of 40% carbs 30% fats and 30% protein. You should try to eat 5 times a day and avoid waiting more than 3 hours between meals.
The most important consideration for carbohydrate intake is Glycemic Index. Glycemic index is a number given to foods according to its impact on your blood sugar. The higher the number, the more impact the food will have on secreting insulin. Insulin tells cells to take in sugar and adipose tissue to take in fatty acids. If the “stores” are not used then they will eventually be converted to fat. Chronically high insulin levels can lead to serious health conditions such as Type-2 Diabetes. Foods with high glycemic indices include breads, sugary cereals, highly processed foods, sports drinks, and sodas.
Fat does not make you fat, carbs do! Not only does fat not make you fat, but you can improve your health by consuming the right types of fat. Some researchers have concluded that there are major benefits from consuming a diet with a 2:1 or 4:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3s. These benefits include healthier skin and nails, increased mental acuity, improved blood-lipid profiles, increased insulin sensitivity and many more. The typical American diet is loaded with Omega-6 fats from oils and meats skewing that ratio to about 16:1. Some sources of Omega-3s are listed below and I also recommend taking a high-quality fish oil.
In an active lifestyle, paying attention to your protein intake is crucial. Protein is essential for the repair of muscle tissue, proper immune function, and making essential hormones and enzymes. The amount of protein you need on a daily basis depends on several factors. The primary considerations are your body fat percentage, activity level, and health goals. The minimum amount of protein you should consume should be sufficient to support your lean mass or to gain lean mass if that is your goal.
When selecting foods, although you can never be 100% "on" 100% of the time you should shoot for minimally processed foods whenever you can. Minimally processed foods are those that are as close to their original source as possible. That means that corn on the cob>corn pudding>corn tortilla. Minimally processed foods are generally found around the edge of the grocery store. If you really have to wonder how the source became the product, you probably shouldn't be eating it ie: Twinkies.
This is a ingredients list for Twinkies made from soy beans, sugar cane, corn and other stuff evidently...
Your diet is the most important thing when it comes to making gains in the gym or changing your body composition however, if you aren't supplementing you aren't making changes at the rate that you could be. There are a million different supplement companies out there but one that I have a lot of confidence in is Gameplan Nutrition. Their products are banned substance free, easily mixable, and they work! To learn more about why we need supplementation as athletes, check out the video below.