“Training is easy, eating clean is the hard part”
CrossFit has been labelled The Key to Health and Fitness, and is essentially a branded fitness regime consisting of more than just a set of training principles or exercises. At the core of CrossFit is a community built around a fit lifestyle characterized by functional exercise and sustainable nutrition. Workouts in CrossFit are strenuous and fast paced and can be scaled to push members of all fitness levels to their best. At CrossFit Uhuru, we change our workouts daily incorporating movements from gymnastics, weight-lifting and cardiovascular exercises. Consequently, nutrition becomes a fundamental element to enhance overall performance and help you reach your personal fitness goals, but what constitutes a good diet and how do you know if you’re getting enough nutrients? There are so many ideas, diets, ways of eating that are popularized today that deciding what, when and even how to eat may seem like a science at times. Firstly, we advocate that before making any drastic change in your diet you seek professional guidance, our tips are merely here to guide you in living an overall healthy lifestyle.
As the quote above reads, often times training is the easy part. You have your schedule of classes which you attend and your coaches, friends and fellow CrossFitters motivate you to make the most out of your training session. They tell you what to do and how to do it, but what about the other 23 hours of the day when you don’t necessarily have a coach telling you what to do? This is where the real challenge for most of us lies, as you face temptation to indulge in sugary treats, alcohol, and fast food. According to the founder of CrossFit, Greg Classman, the classic CrossFit diet advocates eating meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar, whilst keeping intakes to levels which support exercise but not body fat. Essentially this boils down to eating natural, whole foods and the way you decide to do so depends on your goals. If you are aiming to reach new PR’s and getting stronger and faster a calorie deficit diet might not be the best way for you to go. However, if your goal is to lose fat then a calorie deficit diet might be something to consider. Nutrition can be a very personal and individualistic and at Uhuru we emphasize that this needs to suit your lifestyle. Here is a little breakdown of some of the popular dietary trends, what it means and who is likely to benefit from it.
1. Calorie deficit. This diet broadly encompasses counting macro’s and micro’s which essentially make up your broad food groups (protein, carbs etc.) and your vitamins and essential nutrients respectively. The aim of this is to restrict yourself to a certain number of calories per day (consumed) to result in a negative number relative to your metabolic requirements and those burned during exercise and daily activity. This may sound complicated but there are several helpful apps to assist with this, for example MyFitnessPal or MyPlate Calorie Tracker. This type of diet is great for anyone looking to lose fat but may not be beneficial to somebody looking to gain weight or during competition training and events. For more information on this diet see https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/calorie-deficit
2. Intermittent fasting. Cycling between periods of fasting and eating is essentially what this diet plan is about. There are various windows of eating that you can follow, such as 11 – 13, 10 – 14, 8 – 16 (eating-fasting) or even eating only one meal per day. This diet only restricts the times you can eat and not the dietary items. It is suited for people with busy schedules who enjoy eating fewer large meals rather than many small meals. Generally, this eating plan skips breakfast and depending on your eating window you may eat between 12h00 and 20h00. This window is flexible and if you prefer to eat breakfast and skip dinner you can customize your windows accordingly. For more information on this diet see https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/intermittent-fasting-guide
3. Vegan / Vegetarian / Carnivore. These dietary groups all limit certain food groups. They are very contentious and require consistent monitoring to ensure that you are getting all your required nutrients, vitamins and minerals. These diets are often more personally motivated due to ethics and humanitarian values and are perfect people looking to lower their carbon footprint or someone who hunts regularly and has large quantities of free-range meat. For more information on these diet see https://www.mytrainerfitness.com/carnivore-paleotarian-pollotarian-pescatarian-flexitarian-vegetarian-vegan-raw-foodie/
4. Ketogenic diet. The goal of a keto diet is to dramatically cut down on your carbohydrate intake and substitute it with high fat and protein sources to achieve ketosis. Reducing your carbohydrate intake to such extremes puts your body into the metabolic state of ketosis, which is optimal for burning fat for energy. Additionally, fat is turned into ketones in your liver, if you are somebody who is prone to kidney stones or have any kidney issues it is recommended that you speak to your medical practitioner before starting this diet. Similar to intermittent fasting, there are various levels of keto to suit your lifestyle. This diet is ideal for someone who is good at sticking to strict dietary requirements and looking to burn fat and lower blood pressure. For more information on these diet see https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/keto
As we have eluded to, the diet plan you choose is personal and needs to fit your lifestyle and fitness goals. Whatever diet plan you follow, here are some general dietary tips to help you maximize your fitness, nutrition and overall healthy lifestyle:
o Set realistic goals.
o Strike a balance.
o Be patient.
o Consistency is key.
Overall nutrition is complicated but one thing that we do know is that a bad diet will ultimately lead to bad performance but everyone is unique and your diet needs to fit your lifestyle. Just because a particular diet regime worked for your friend or colleague, does not necessarily mean that it will be the best nutrition plan to suit your day to day lifestyle, training program or fitness goals. Ultimately if you feed your body natural, whole foods you are on the right track to optimizing your healthy lifestyle. In our next post we will delve a little deeper into the general dietary tips mentioned above as well as discussing supplements and vitamins.
Yours in Fitness