If you read my last CrossFit Article (“CrossFit Is My Church“), you already know I am a fairly recent convert to the cult of CrossFit. At the time of this writing I’m about Six months in the box. In addition to the athletic performance increases, I am down a couple waist sizes, and have even lost weight (about 30 pounds). I also really enjoy the workouts, and am regretful that I didn’t decide to jump right to CrossFit when I started this journey. More importantly, I am off blood pressure medication. This one thing was the reason I started my fitness journey to begin with. Don’t worry, I’m not done yet!
Though CrossFit, and the exercise philosophy that comes with it can have a lot of credit for my transformation, nutrition plays an even greater roll. I wrote about nutrition generally in my “You Can’t Run From a Bad Diet” article, but in this article I will go into my personal nutrition plan specifically. This article will be stuffed full of the wisdom about nutrition I’ve accumulated over the course of the last 18 months (in which I have lost about 50 pounds). Below, I will outline the specific plan I would put in place (and currently have in place) if I knew a year ago what I know now.
Nutrition: The Foundation of Your Hall of Fitness
It’s important to note that I am not a metabolic scientist, personal trainer, or nutrition expert. Below is what has worked, and what is working for me. Your mileage may vary. My main rules in Nutrition for Weight Loss are: eat real food, and make small changes you can stick to over time. I will go into each of these specifically, but keep them in mind. I want to start out with my current daily diet so, you can see where I am coming from.
Lunch: Deli Turkey, A Cucumber, and 12 (or so) Cherry Tomatoes.
Snack 2: One of the other options from Snack 1.
Supper: Some sort of meat (Steak, Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs, Cheddar Cheese Burger, or a Bone In Pork Chop), a Green Vegetable (Asparagus, Green Beans, Broccoli), an Orange Vegetable (Sweet Potato, Carrot, Squash, Beets) and/or a salad. The salad is typically about 2 cups of Baby Spinach, a Cucumber, and 12-15 Cherry Tomatoes. For dressing I just use lemon juice and olive oil. To drink I have a glass of water with Lemon Juice.
After Supper: I typically drink 2 cups of water with 2 scoops of Metamucil. After that I typically fill out my remaining calories/macros (more on this later) with Oatmeal, Fruit, All Natural Applesauce, Protein Powder, Psyllium Husk, or occasionally Deli Turkey.
Throughout the day I make certain I drink 10-20 glasses of water.
Did I start out there? No, absolutely not.
I started simply. I added more fruits, veggies, meat, and nuts while simultaneously removing grain based processed foods. You can do that too. It will likely work for you, at least initially. If that seems like your speed read my article “You Can’t Run From A Bad Diet” . Remember that the best nutrition plan is the one you can stick to consistently. Consistency is how we make gains towards our goals. Consistency is sustainable. If you can only do it for a few months you will just gain back any lost weight when you invariably give up on it.
Macro Nutrients And You: My Current Nutrition Plan
When I say Macro Nutrients I mean Carbohydrates, Protein, and Fat. Any food you eat is composed of these three things in varying levels.
If you are in a place where you can make drastic changes, and stick to them then keep reading. It still won’t be terribly difficult, and will still be sustainable, but it is more change up front then other plans. Lets start with the rules:
- You MUST track everything you put in your body. I use My Fitness Pal for this. No cheating. Seriously. If you drink 12 beers on Saturday while eating a whole pizza log it.
- You must weigh yourself every day at the same time (and track that weight). Again, My Fitness Pal does a great job of this.
- You must measure yourself once per week. A tailors tape measure is your friend. Use the US Navy Method found here here.
- You will not freak out about daily changes in your numbers.
Once you have your body fat percentile I recommend you head over to www.RippedBody.com , and sign up with their service. It is free, and I am not affiliated with them in any way other than that I have used the free information they give you.
You will get a free ebook and access to a spreadsheet that will get your plan moving in the right direction. You will get a series of emails outlining various aspects of how to manage nutrition through Macros before being pitched an ebook you need to pay for. Don’t buy the ebook. The info is free in the internet, and after the other info you are given you’ll know how to research. I started writing out what I learned from it, but realized that it would be more effective to just send you over there.
Here is how I am currently managing my nutrition. Remember, that this is my program I customized for me. You can us my numbers if you want to, but they may not work.
Right now my goal is to lose 2 pounds of fat per week. I work out 3-6 days a week, and currently have about 29% body fat. I am doing 5 days of CrossFit and 1 day of treadmill for 45 minutes with a goal of distance.
First, Calories: Based on my height, weight, lean body mass, and activity level this means I should be taking in 2,300 or so calories per day. I went and took mid range numbers for my macros. This means that my goal right now is 25% Carbs, 35% Fats, 40% Protein. To put it another way I am trying to eat 166 grams of Carbs, 221 Grams of Protein, and 92 Grams of Fat.
My thought is that these ratios and this number of calories will help me keep and even build muscle while losing fat. I can say that over the past couple of weeks that I have been doing this new plan it has been working as expected. If it stops working as expected I will up the protein and lower the carbs.
The important things to remember are that nutrition and fitness are works in progress. Our bodies are built to adapt to different conditions. Once our bodies have adapted to something it becomes the new normal and our progression stops (or at least slows way down). This is why I like CrossFit as an exercise program so much, and why I like the Macro Nutrient approach to nutrition planning.
CrossFit keeps the workouts and movements varied, and with a Macro Nutrient plan we can easily alter our levels without going insane.
I do this in 3 ways:
First, I measure myself every Sunday morning to see how much fat I have lost (and don’t freak out if its wonky). This is the information I am really looking for. My weight sometimes fluctuates because of muscle gain, sodium intake, ect. But for the most part the fat loss seems to track. It may stop for a bit, but I’m not going to worry about it until it stops for a month or more.
Second, I weigh myself every day and take a weekly average. Then I determine how much weight I’ve lost.
Third, I look in the mirror. Yup, I look in the mirror. By looking I get to either reinforce what I see in the other factors, or feel better if they are less than ideal.
That’s about it for nutrition. I’m sure I’ll revisit this topic in the future. Like I said, its a moving target, but it is really not as complicated as most of us make it out to be.