Thursday, August 2, 2012

Rest day.

Use today to make up a workout that you missed. While you’re here, pull up and read this article below. It’s awesome. Especially if you’re foam rolling while reading it.


by Coach Garth Cowley

Why do you CrossFit? What do you expect to gain from your experience here at CrossFit Junction?  Are you here to lose weight?  Gain Lean Body Mass (LBM)?  Is killer performance your goal?  Are you trying to maintain good health?  Are you here to look and feel good about yourself?  Are you rehabilitating an injury or overcoming illness?  Whatever your reasons (if you are like most, you probably have several) your nutritional needs are basically the same.

I get asked quite regularly what kind of foods someone should eat to lose weight.  Sometimes I get asked what someone should eat to have better performance in life and at the gym (this usually consists of the desire to have more energy).  Occasionally, I get asked what someone should eat to look and feel better.  All of these goals have one thing in common. Good health and well-being.

If we have good health, we will have more energy and an overall sense of well-being.  If we feel good, we perform better.  If we are performing better, it’s probably because we have attained some level of fitness and overall good health.  The obvious side benefit will be that we look good.  All the above goals are affected by our nutrition.  We cannot expect great gains physically by working out alone.  We must consume good things (QUALITY) in the right amounts (QUANTITY) to accomplish overall good health and well-being.

QUALITY first then QUANTITY is how I like to steer people in regards to nutrition.  Remember when you first started CrossFit?  You probably heard more than once, CONSISTENCY first then INTENSITY.  Get yourself to where you are working out regularly (CONSISTENCY), and then ramp it up (INTENSITY).  Anyone who’s been doing CrossFit for more than a month knows the wisdom in this advice.  Where would you be now if you never began applying INTENSITY?

Similarly, in the nutritional world, if the QUALITY of your food is good, it’s time to address QUANTITY.  QUALITY and QUANTITY work together and will serve you well.  Just like CONSISTENCY without INTENSITY, or vice versa, will only get you so far.  QUALITY without the right QUANTITY, or vice versa, will stifle your progress.  In both cases, you should have both under wraps for optimal results.

So, first cut the garbage out.  Eliminate processed foods and sugar as much as possible.  Cut starchy foods to a minimum.  Understand how food affects the insulin response in your body and how best to avoid insulin spikes.  In other words, avoid high GCI (Glycemic Index) foods; such as sugar, processed food, and high fructose corn syrup.  These foods are enemies that spike insulin in the body making the body store things as fat.  This can lead to obesity and diabetes among many other ailments (internet search “hyperinsulinism”, “hyperglycemia”, and “hypoglycemia”).  If you have allergen issues with dairy or any other food (some examples are gluten, wheat, legumes, etc.) then cut them out of your diet immediately.

Once you’ve cut the garbage out, focus on what you should eat.  Concern yourself primarily with the three basic macronutrients; PROTEIN, CARBOHYDRATES, and FAT.  For the PROTEIN category, consume meat (for our purposes, we categorize seafood as a meat).   Also, chicken,turkey, deer, elk, other wild game, lean beef (grass fed is best) and pork are good.

For CARBS, eat Vegetables (raw is best) and some fruit.  Be very conservative with starchy and high GCI carbs such as; potatoes, sweet potatoes, brown beans, rice and the like.

Next get your FAT primarily from olives, olive oil, avocados, nuts (raw are best), seeds (raw are best), and coconut milk.

Again, concern yourself primarily with only the three macronutrients from each food source for now and do not count the FAT in meat.  Meat is for PROTEIN, vegetables and fruit are for CARBS.  Nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, etc. are for FAT.  Avoid the trap of getting over technical or you will find yourself frustrated.

Once we have a handle on what you are eating (QUALITY), it’s time to control how much you eat (QUANTITY).  How do you do that?  It’s really quite simple, but it takes some initial effort and a little dedication.

Start with the Basic Zone (you have to start somewhere).  The Zone can be tweaked for your individual goals later but you must first gain a basic working knowledge of how your body responds and what it needs.

To find your Basic Zone, find your Lean Body Mass (LBM) by subtracting your Body Fat (BF) from your overall Body Weight (BW).

Example:  A 200 pound person (BW) with 10% BF would have a LBM of 180 pounds (200 – 10% = 180 pounds).  Don’t be overly concerned if you don’t know your exact BF.  This is simply to get a starting point.  Next, take 10% of your LBM and that is how many blocks of food you should consume each day.  In this example, the 200 pound person would need to consume 18 blocks of food per day (10% of his LBM (180 pounds) equals 18 blocks).

Ok, so what’s a block?  It is simply a way of measuring food in chunks.  This is where people usually decide to forget about weighing and measuring.  DO NOT give up here!  Stay with me and put it into practice for a little while!  I promise you will develop a supreme understanding of the system in short order if you dedicate a little time and effort.  Give it a few months, or maybe just a few weeks, and you will be glad you did.  If you are not dedicated enough to actually weigh and measure your food then use the eyeball method explained later.

Here is a simple break down of how it works.  A one block meal consists of:

7 grams PROTEIN

9 grams CARBS

1.5 grams of FAT

So, a four block meal would be:

28 grams PROTEIN (4X)

36 grams CARBS (4X)

6 grams FAT (4X)

Here is where the block system (The Zone), developed by Dr. Barry Sears, makes things easier.  One block of PROTEIN equals 1 to 1.5 ounces of meat.  One block of CARBS equals ½ of an apple, nectarine, orange, or grapefruit; 4 cups raw spinach (1 cup cooked), 2 cups raw broccoli (1 ¼ cups cooked), or 2 cups raw cauliflower (1 ¼ cups cooked).  One block of FAT equals 3 almonds, 3 medium olives, 1 macadamia nut, ½ tablespoon of avocado or guacamole, ½ teaspoon of almond butter (non sweetened), or 1/3 teaspoon of olive oil.  For an easy to use chart, visit  This chart even lists favorable and unfavorable foods.  Weigh and measure for a few weeks or more with this chart and you will gain a pretty good ability to eyeball your meals with reasonable accuracy.  After that, simply weigh and measure occasionally to keep yourself in check.

Eyeball method:  For close to a 4 block meal, consume the following portions:

For meat, consume a piece about the size and thickness of the palm of your hand (PROTEIN).  At least two-thirds of your plate should be covered with vegetables (CARBS).  Eat one or two fist sized pieces of fruit (CARBS).  Finish off with a FAT source that will fit in the small portion of your cupped palm.

Remember our example?  That athlete needs to eat 18 blocks per day, right?  He can do that any way he chooses.  Some examples are; eat 4 block meals, 3 times a day (12 blocks) and two 3 block snacks (6 more for 18 total blocks).  He could eat 5 block meals, 3 times a day (15 blocks) and one 3 block snack.  Or he could do like I do and simply eat throughout the day while keeping track of each category as he eats it, ensuring he consumes a total of 18 blocks of PROTEIN, CARBOHYDRATES, and FAT.  You do not have to eat even amounts at each meal but that is better if you are able to do it.

A really nice tool that I use on my phone makes counting blocks very easy.  It’s called the T-Counter in the applications world.  Simply set up three categories (one for each macronutrient; PROTEIN, CARBS, FAT), then set each for your intake level and countdown each category as you eat throughout the day.

Now, simply pay attention to how you feel and perform day to day.  Journal your experiences so you can start playing around with your intake ratios later to know how it affects you. Give The Zone at least thirty days before experimenting (see The Athlete’s Zone after that).  Again, avoid the trap of getting over technical or you will find yourself frustrated.  For some, simply cutting the crap out of their diet is enough to attain their goals.  For many, monitoring QUALITY and QUANTITY is a must!

You decide for yourself, based on your goals and body chemistry what’s best for you.  I encourage you to ask questions of the coaches here at CrossFit Junction as you experiment with the above basic guidelines.  Also, use your resources available on the internet (CrossFit, The Zone, Paleo, etc.) and books (buy your own or see Amy’s library).


One thought on “Thursday, August 2, 2012”

  1. This was a great post. Printed the Quick Reference Sheet to keep in the kitchen. Awesome thread!

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