Our bodies are complex machines that are capable of incredible work output. In order to get them firing on all cylinders, we have to supply them with appropriate nourishment. Food is the fuel that powers our bodies and we want to be sure we are supplying it with high quality gasoline (think high octane super awesome unleaded). Nutrition is the foundation for athletic performance and our general health, so let’s explore what it means to eat healthily.
We’re going to start with the government approved food pyramid (further information can be found here). There are 5 USDA approved food groups: grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, and meat & beans. I’m assuming you all understand what foods are included in each food group. For the average American on a 2,000 calorie/day diet, the USDA recommends you take in 6 oz. of grains, 2.5 cups of veggies, 2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of milk, and 5.5 oz. of meat. Simple enough, right?
Being a CrossFitter means that you are anything but average. If anything, you are exemplary humans and we have high expectations for you. In most cases, your caloric requirements are going to be higher than the average American because you exercise and are more active than a couch surfer on the pro circuit. If you only ate what is USDA recommended, you would be doing alright health-wise (probably better than average). But we don’t just want you to be just “alright”, we want you to be fine-tuned machines and this requires good input (food) to achieve higher output (performance). We’ll be looking at some strategies to improve your diet, which in turn, will improve your CrossFit and hopefully, your quality of life.
One thing that I want you to notice about the USDA pyramid is that nowhere do you find food or drink loaded with sugar. This means the cookies, sodas, ice creams, and candies that we have all come to crave and love. Think about how many food items you consume on a daily basis that have processed sugar or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in them. Pretty much everything you eat that is pre-packaged has some or a lot of both and none of it is good or healthy for you. Do you think you could replace some of those snacks with some fruit, nuts, or other types of healthy snacks (read: natural and unprocessed)? Instead of having a bag of chips sitting on your desk at work for a snack, try an apple with some almond butter and a couple slices of baked chicken breast. It’s not that hard to do, all it requires from you is a little planning and foresight.