Ultimate Guide to a Healthy Diet for CrossFit Fans
Workouts at CrossFit gyms are arduous and speedy. They change daily depending on your needs and involve gymnastics, weightlifting, and cardiovascular exercises.
To do your best, you have first to be healthy. Health and nutrition are viewed as the foundation of CrossFit training and are very critical to performance.
The CrossFit diet is comparatively low in carbs and emphasizes consuming macronutrients from plant foods, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
Here is a closer look at the Ultimate Guide to a healthy diet for CrossFit fans, including what to eat and avoid.
What Is the CrossFit Diet?
As an ultimate general guide, coaches recommend that athletes should eat meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar at all. They should also keep food intake to a level that will support and help them exercise but won't increase their body fat.
A more specific CrossFit diet recommends the Zone Diet, which was developed over 30 years ago by a biochemist and author of The Zone named Barry Sears.
The diet is designed to control the blood sugar and minimize inflammation of the body.
To plan a balanced, CrossFit-friendly meal, first, divide your plate into thirds and fill it with
- 1/3 lean protein: The options include skinless chicken breast, fish, lean beef, and low-fat dairy.
- 2/3 healthy carbs: Emphasize color, vegetables, and fruits with a low glycemic index (GI).
- A small amount of healthy fat: Olive oil, avocados, nuts are a few of the many options.
The CrossFit website recommends you try the Zone Diet for four weeks and then adjust it based on your requirement and intake.
Notably, not all CrossFit trainers will provide the same diet advice. Some recommend the paleo diet, which basically omits dairy products entirely, grains and legumes.
What Is a Block?
A block can be defined as a way of measuring your necessary protein, fat, and carb intake:
- One carbohydrate block = 9 grams of carbs
- One protein block = 7 grams of protein
- One fat block = 1.5 grams of fat
How Many Blocks Do You Need?
The sex, body size, and activity level determine how many blocks one needs daily.
An average-sized woman will need 11 blocks daily of — carbohydrate, protein, and fat — while an average-sized man may require 14 blocks.
CrossFit provides a food chart that will help in counting your blocks.
Once you learn about your block count, evenly divide your blocks into meals and snacks to ensure a proper balance of protein, fat, and carb.
For example, if a woman needs 11 blocks of each macronutrient daily, she should intake:
Weighing and Measuring Foods
The Guidelines for the CrossFit-recommended Zone Diet permits you to use the hand-eye method to estimate portions of healthy protein and carbs intake.
That means selecting protein, such as meat, about the palm of your hand's size and thickness, then adding about two-thirds of your plate with vegetables and a small quantity of fruit.
Foods to Intake:
According to the Zone Diet, foods that are low in GI and saturated fat and omega-6 fat are called rich.
Examples of best-rated fats rich in fat include:
A Sample Menu
Here's an example of an 11-block menu, which would be appropriate for an average-sized woman:
Breakfast (3 blocks of each macronutrient)
- Three protein blocks: 3/4 cup of cottage cheese
- One carb block: 1.5 cups of chopped tomatoes
- Two carb blocks: 1 cup of blueberries
- Three fat blocks: 9 almonds
Lunch (3 blocks of each macronutrient)
- Three protein blocks: 3 ounces of grilled chicken breast
- One carb block: 1 cup of cooked asparagus
- Two carb blocks: 1/2 cup of cooked lentils
- Three fat blocks: 1 teaspoon of olive oil to flavor vegetables
Afternoon Snack (1 block of each macronutrient)
- One protein block: 1 large hard-boiled egg
- One carb block: 2 cups of cherry tomatoes
- One fat block: 1 tablespoon of avocado
Dinner (3 blocks of each macronutrient)
- Three protein blocks: 4.5 ounces of baked salmon
- One carb block: 1.5 cups of steamed broccoli
- One carb block: 2 cups of sauteed collard greens
- One carb block: 1 cup of strawberry slices
- Three fat blocks: 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil to cook salmon and collard greens
Evening Snack (1 block of each macronutrient)
- One protein block: 1 ounce of a mozzarella cheese stick
- One carb block: 2 cups of bell pepper strips
- One fat block: 5 small olives
Due to the low carb counts, some 1-block vegetable portions are large; You can eat a smaller amount if desired.
Eating low carbs — as recommended in CrossFit and the Zone Diet — will enhance glucose stores (glycogen) in your muscles needed to fuel exercise.
However, it's uncertain whether a low-glycemic diet will help in improving athletic performance.
CrossFit's founder and CEO, Greg Glassman, says that his best performers follow the Zone Diet; however, the published studies are limited.
A small amount of research suggests that the Zone Diet may have health benefits.
Its carb guidelines could help prevent the chances of chronic diseases. According to a study in which 30 people with type 2 diabetes followed the Zone Diet for six months and were supplemented with 2,400 mg of omega-3s daily. It was observed that the average blood sugar decreased by 11%, waist size by 3%, and an inflammation marker by 51%.
Lastly, the diet emphasizes eating protein with every meal and Snack — especially at breakfast and lunch as it is recognized to support muscle growth and repair.