Before you get into the heavy stuff below let’s revisit the stuff we all know. Real food = Good, Not real food = not good. Eat your veggies, drink your water, get some lean protein in and try eat the rest (sugar) sparingly. Also if you’re not sleeping your body cannot perform or recover properly. So get them zzz’s in people!
One of our long standing members here Nicola Halloran has a super blog called The Wonky Spatula with tonnes of healthy eats and recipes so make sure to check it out. We have a Whole 30 month long meal plan from Nicola here at the ready too so please shout out if you want a copy.
The CrossFit dietary prescription is as follows:
Should be lean and varied and account for about 30% of your total caloric load.
Should be predominantly low-glycemic and account for about 40% of your total caloric load.
Should be predominantly monounsaturated and account for about 30% of your total caloric load.
Should be set at between .7 and 1.0 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass depending on your activity level. The .7 figure is for moderate daily workout loads and the 1.0 figure is for the hardcore athlete.
What Should I Eat?
In plain language, base your diet on garden vegetables, especially greens, lean meats, nuts and seeds, little starch, and no sugar. That’s about as simple as we can get. Many have observed that keeping your grocery cart to the perimeter of the grocery store while avoiding the aisles is a great way to protect your health. Food is perishable. The stuff with long shelf life is all suspect. If you follow these simple guidelines you will benefit from nearly all that can be achieved through nutrition.
The Caveman or Paleolithic Model for Nutrition
Modern diets are ill suited for our genetic composition. Evolution has not kept pace with advances in agriculture and food processing resulting in a plague of health problems for modern man. Coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and psychological dysfunction have all been scientifically linked to a diet too high in refined or processed carbohydrate. Search “Google” for Paleolithic nutrition, or diet. The return is extensive, compelling, and fascinating. The Caveman model is perfectly consistent with the CrossFit prescription.
What Foods Should I Avoid?
Excessive consumption of high-glycemic carbohydrates is the primary culprit in nutritionally caused health problems. High glycemic carbohydrates are those that raise blood sugar too rapidly. They include rice, bread, candy, potato, sweets, sodas, and most processed carbohydrates. Processing can include bleaching, baking, grinding, and refining. Processing of carbohydrates greatly increases their glycemic index, a measure of their propensity to elevate blood sugar.
What is the Problem with High-Glycemic Carbohydrates?
The problem with high-glycemic carbohydrates is that they give an inordinate insulin response. Insulin is an essential hormone for life, yet acute, chronic elevation of insulin leads to hyperinsulinism, which has been positively linked to obesity, elevated cholesterol levels, blood pressure, mood dysfunction and a Pandora’s box of disease and disability. Research “hyperinsulinism” on the Internet. There’s a gold mine of information pertinent to your health available there. The CrossFit prescription is a low-glycemic diet and consequently severely blunts the insulin response.
Caloric Restriction and Longevity
Current research strongly supports the link between caloric restriction and an increased life expectancy. The incidence of cancers and heart disease sharply decline with a diet that is carefully limited in controlling caloric intake. “Caloric Restriction” is another fruitful area for Internet search. The CrossFit prescription is consistent with this research.
The CrossFit prescription allows a reduced caloric intake and yet still provides ample nutrition for rigorous activity.
The Paleo Diet
The Paleo (short for Paleolithic) Diet is a dietary lifestyle based on the ancestral human diet. Essentially, it focuses on whole foods like meat, vegetables, and fruits while avoiding the foods that were introduced into our diet relatively recently – grains, soy, legumes, and dairy. It also avoids processed foods like sugar and additives.
Many people – myself included – have benefitted greatly from switching to the Paleo diet. There are a ton of examples out there showing that the diet has helped to reverse instances of many disease. The diet also helps in weight loss, improving athletic performance, and getting better sleep.
I can’t even begin to tell you how much better I feel from a year ago. Basically – when you eat right, your body simply functions the way it’s supposed to function. It’s not a cure-all, but it is a gimmick-free way of eating and staying healthy.
Have a look at the Paleo diagram that really makes it easy to understand.
- No processed foods – fast food, those things in boxes that have a long list of stuff we don’t know, anything that is not REAL food.
- No refined, artificial & added sugars – or really any sugar that isn’t already naturally in foods (honey & maple syrup can be used if needed)
- No grains – gluten = bad. If you want to bake opt for coconut flour and almond flour. Plenty in the visual recipe index.
- No legumes (yes that includes peanuts & anything soy)
- No white potatoes – they spike your insulin, but sweet potatoes are okay. Sweet Potatoes are NOT potatoes, they don’t even come from the same plant family! Interesting, right?
- Try to avoid dairy – use fermented or raw grass-fed dairy if needed
- No alcohol – although if you absolutely have to there are some “better” ones to consume
- No vegetable oils (that includes canola, peanut, soybean, corn, etc…)
- Yes to healthy fats – animal fat, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, tallow, nut oils, etc…
- Yes to grass fed meats, pastured free-range chicken/eggs, wild fish and fresh organic produce (find your local farmer’s market)
- Sleep! That’s important.
Paleo Diet Meats
This is a list of paleo diet meats allowed on the diet. Almost all meats are paleo by definition. Of course, you’ll want to stay away from highly processed meats and meats that are very high in fat (stuff like spam, hot dogs are other low-quality meat), but if it used to moo, oink or make some other sound ‘- it’s almost certainly paleo (and yes, that means you can still have bacon ‘- although don’t do anything too crazy with it). Here’s the full list below:
Grass Fed Beef
Chicken Wings (yum!)
New York Steak
Bear (good luck getting this!)
Eggs (duck, chicken or goose)
Paleo Diet Fish
Fish are definitely on the paleo diet and they’re chock full of good stuff like Omega 3s as well. If it swims and has fins, it’s definitely paleo. Have at it!
Paleo Diet Seafood
Down in New Orleans and want to have a crawfish boil? Paleo. Swap it out for shrimp? Ditto. Heck, even a stop at Red Lobster is good as long as you stay away from the rolls. Check out the tons of different seafood you can eat on the paleo diet.
Paleo Diet Vegetables
Paleo diet vegetables. Almost all vegetables foods are on the paleo diet as well – but you need to be careful in discerning the difference here. Vegetables with a high starch content – such as potatoes, and squashes – tend to have low nutritional value in comparison to the amount of starches/carbs/sugars they contain. While they’re not bad for you, they’re not always that great for you either.
Peppers (All Kinds)
Paleo Diet Oils/Fats
Paleo diet oils. Contrary to popular belief, fat doesn’t make you fat – carbs do (and the standard American diet has a ton of them!). Natural oils and fats are your body’s preferred way of creating energy so it’s best to give your body what it’s asking for! The following are some of the best types of paleo oils and fats that you can give your body if you’re in need of some additional sustained energy.
Grass fed Butter
Paleo Diet Nuts
We love nuts! (does that sound bad?) Nuts are decidedly paleo. Be careful as cashews and peanuts are high in fat and for some reason, they’re incredibly easy to eat an entire jar in one sitting (that’s just not us, is it?). If you’re trying to lose weight, limit the amount of nuts you’re consuming – otherwise have it. I mean, after all, you can’t beat a good almond/pecan/walnut nut mix can you?
Paleo Diet Fruits**
Paleo diet fruits are not only delicious, but they’re great for you. Fruits, even paleo-approved ones, contain large amounts of fructose which – while much better than HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup) – is still sugar. If you’re looking to lose weight on the paleo diet, you’ll want to cut back on the fruit intake and focus more on the vegetables allowed on the paleo diet. However, feel free to have 1-3 servings of fruit a day and enjoy yourself. Check out this list of paleo diet fruits and see if you’re not hungry by the end! (we’ll admit, we’re partial to the blackberries).
* You’ll notice, while these starchy foods are great for energy replacement for paleo diet athletes who are spending long periods of time exercising and need some of the starchier foods on the paleo diet to sustain their energy levels. As long as you’re training, you’ll find these are great sources of energy replacements, especially post- workouts. However, if you’re trying to lose weight on the paleo diet, you’ll want to limit the quantities of these that you’re eating.
** Eat high-sugar fruits in moderation. They’re great for you, but easy to overdo. Remember your caveman predecessor didn’t have access to Florida orange groves 24/7 so you probably shouldn’t try to eat a bushel of oranges in your next paleo diet meal.