As the demand for instant results seeps into every corner of our lives, everyone is looking for that quick fix to get us the results we want. Because of this, we have managed to over complicate something that doesn’t need to be complicated at all. Nutrition. When it comes to nutrition there are a lot of diets, fads, and information, but there is no magic pill to get you the results you want.
My goal in this post is to provide everyone with a simple and easy to use approach to nutrition. When implemented in your daily life, you will get really, really close to where you want to be, in terms of performance, health, and lifestyle. Please keep in mind, I am being very general on purpose in order to simplify things as much as possible. I also understand that everyone reading this is in a different place with their fitness and nutrition goals, but one of the most important goals that we all share, is to be the best version of ourselves and lead a healthy, active lifestyle.
With that said, maybe our goal is to lose weight but we are struggling to do so, or maybe we’ve been putting in the work in the gym but our performance has plateaued, or you find your gymnastics is not where it should be compared to your strength numbers? Maybe you had to stop during your mile run and/or your 2k row? The foundation for all of this is nutrition and having the appropriate leanness (leanness AKA body fat) that will allow you to achieve these goals. As your body fat goes down, I am confident that not only will your performance in the gym improve, but so will your overall health.
If you want to see optimal results in your performance, males should be between 7-10% body fat and females between 9-15%. With that said, everyone has an optimal number in that range, but again for simplification purposes, your body fat should fall into this range in order to be performing at your best and living the healthiest lifestyle possible.
So how do we achieve this level of leanness with out complicating it or having it take over our life?
Is it a Paleo approach? Zone? Paleo/Zone? Macros? Flexible Dieting? The list of diets and trends goes on and on. Each of these options has its pros and cons, but lets forget all that for a second and try to focus on three main principles when it comes to nutrition. If you follow these three simple rules, nutrition isn’t complicated at all. In fact, it can be real simple.
Eat Real Food
Not Too Much
That's it. Three things. Pretty simple right? Good. Now, lets break them down a bit further.
1. Eat Real Food (Quality): Either it grew out of the ground or had eyes at one point. That's it. That's the only thing you are should eat. "It was living at one point" means that if you left it on a shelf for a week, it would perish or mold. Everything else that comes from a bag, box, or the middle aisles of the supermarket is no good. It is a man-made food like substance, created by people in lab coats, in plants, with the purpose of making money by extending the shelf life of the product and making it taste really good. As the founder of CrossFit, Greg Glassman, has been preaching for years, “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar.” Regardless of the latest fad or trend diet, this simple approach to nutrition has withstood the test of time.
2. Not Too Much (Quantity): Eat a balanced meal every time you eat. Take your plate and add about a palm sized serving of protein, then a palm sized serving of starch or fruit, and then fill up the rest with vegetables. Then add to that about a thumb sized serving of fat. Simple.
3. Mostly Vegetables: Veggies are the most nutrient dense foods there are and they contain many of life’s essential micro-nutrients. Eat as many as you can! No limit.
Now that we have these three simple principles for eating… Do this 3-4 times per day. (Males and females with a Small or Medium t-shirt size: 3 times. Males and females with a Large or XL t-shirt size: 4 times).
What about supplements? Shakes? Post-workout Carbs?
All of these things won’t move the needle on health and performance as much as losing 5lbs of fat. Secondly, if you are supplementing, and your nutrition isn’t in check AKA drinking a bottle of wine at night and eating pizza, its not going to move the needle on performance and health either. Supplementation should come second, after your have cleaned up your diet and live by these three principles.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with this… The main potion of our training is called a Metcon. Metabolic Conditioning. A metabolic or metabolism is your bodies ability to take food and turn it into energy. We are training daily (some of us competing) in the sport of eating into energy. Nutrition is the foundation. So you better take your nutrition seriously! You can’t out-exercise a bad diet! Eat Clean, Train Mean, and Live Lean!