Category: Nutrition

Body Composition Testing: Go Beyond the Scale

People come to CrossFit for community, motivation, and to get healthy. For some of us, that means getting stronger. For others, that could mean building muscle, losing weight, or adding some years to our life! So, how do we measure these changes? When we lift more, we know we are getting stronger! But for those that want to change their body weight, a scale can be really deceiving. After all, your weight is just a number, and losing weight is not the same as losing fat. Likewise, gaining weight is not the same as gaining fat! Body weight fluctuations are normal. Small weight changes (1 to 4 pounds) over short periods of time (like the weekend) do not usually reflect fat loss or fat gain. In fact, those few pounds may be the result of normal fluctuations the body goes through:

  • water retention (carbohydrate intake, electrolyte balance, etc.)
  • side effects of medication
  • not getting enough sleep
  • menstrual cycles
  • and more!

These sudden weight changes can sometimes lead to an obsession with the scale. In the case of sudden weight gain, a higher number on the scale might even inspire you to overcompensate by restricting certain foods. However, research shows that long-term habits make a greater impact on long-term health and weight management, while trying to correct sudden weight changes with short restrictive sprees is less effective 1, 2. This is why, when it comes to tracking biometrics for sports nutrition, we look at much more than weight. Track what matters!

The InBody 570 goes beyond the scale by showing you a detailed view of your body composition: water, fat, and lean mass. You can use these results to:

  • see your starting/baseline composition. This is ideal if you’re new to CrossFit!
  • learn about your risk for chronic diseases
  • track changes from a new nutrition or fitness approach.
  • track physical changes during major lifestyle shifts (having a baby, getting a new job, etc.).
  • learn how to eat based on your goals for weight management and health.

Scale versus InBody 570

The InBody scan is fast and simple. There are no bathing suits, x-rays, body pinches, or invasive techniques involved! Simply stand on the measurement pads and hold the metal handles for 30 seconds. Then, get your results printed immediately!

Body Composition Test: $50
Includes:

  • 1 InBody Scan 
  • Printed results
  • A 10-minute review with a nutrition coach on how diet and lifestyle affect your results

Click here to book a scan.

References

1 Orsama, A. L., Mattila, E., Ermes, M., van Gils, M., Wansink, B., & Korhonen, I. (2014). Weight rhythms: weight increases during weekends and decreases during weekdays. Obesity facts7(1), 36–47. https://doi.org/10.1159/000356147

2 Sares-Jäske, L., Knekt, P., Männistö, S., Lindfors, O., & Heliövaara, M. (2019). Self-report dieting and long-term changes in body mass index and waist circumference. Obesity science & practice5(4), 291–303. https://doi.org/10.1002/osp4.336

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3 Fitness Pitfalls to Avoid After Quarantine

Nutrition and exercise play an important role in maintaining fitness, social lives, and all aspects of our health. During this long period of social isolation, your relationship with food and exercise has probably changed. On the bright side, things are looking up again! Regardless of how your wellness has been during quarantine, there are some concepts to keep in mind as you ease back into your regular programming.

  1. Don’t immediately go full throttle on the WODs and post-workout nutrition. Do any of these apply to you? In the last 2 months you:
    • Haven’t been consistently strength training (at least 3x per week).
    • Haven’t been getting a balanced nutrient intake AND adequate energy intake.
    • Have been mostly sedentary.

If these apply to you, it is highly likely that you have lost some endurance, contractile muscle, mobility, and your overall metabolism has slowed [1, 2]. These factors affect how many Calories your body needs and how your body performs during exercise. Coach Eric shares his wisdom: “The last thing anyone should be doing when they get back to the gym is assuming they can hop back where they left off. The first 2-3 weeks should simply be reacquainting yourself with the movements and having some weight on your shoulders again.” He adds, “The good news is that [strength] comes back much quicker than when you originally had to fight for it when you first started.”

So, if you experienced these changes, remember your body needs time to fire on all cylinders again. Pace yourself! And, just because you’re back in the gym, that does NOT mean you should refuel with huge post-workout meals or a bunch of supplements. To avoid potential rebound fat, refuel strategically and not heavily.

2. Ditch the fad diets. If you’re thinking of doing an elimination diet as a way to compensate for any “bad” habits you picked up, please think twice. Diets that restrict carbohydrates will not fuel for your brain for the office, or your muscles for exercise. Diets that eliminate all added sugars can induce cravings [3]. Ketogenic diets can cause muscle breakdown and acid-base imbalance [4]. Instead of helping you, these diets can fuel disordered eating or worsen your obsession with food. That’s not healthy. Focus on eating a balance of all foods. My favorite saying is, “Eat real food, not too much, mostly plants.”

3. Don’t make alcohol the center of your social life. Did you know that alcohol has 7 Calories per gram? It even has more Calories than protein and carbohydrates, but no helpful nutrients! So, if you are trying to cut back on Calories or improve your overall health, limiting alcohol intake is a great place to start! The social pressure may hit hard, but your goals matter. If you want to cut back on alcohol, here are some constructive options:

  • Do a social activity that doesn’t involve alcohol or a bar setting.
  • Order a mocktail or low-calorie alternative (i.e. club soda instead of tonic, diet soda instead of the “real” thing, spiked seltzer instead of a frozen sugar blend, etc.) or the robust non-alcoholic beers from Two Roots Brewery.
  • Ask your friends for their support.

If you have any questions, drop a line here or on Instagram!

~Sierra

References

[1] Hamilton M. T. (2018). The role of skeletal muscle contractile duration throughout the whole day: reducing sedentary time and promoting universal physical activity in all people. The Journal of physiology596(8), 1331–1340. https://doi.org/10.1113/JP273284

[2] Maloney, L. (2019). How Long Can You Go Without Exercise Before Your Body Starts to Lose Muscle? Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/article/435701-how-long-can-you-go-without-exercise-before-your-body-starts-to-lose-muscle/

[3] Martin, C. K., Rosenbaum, D., Han, H., Geiselman, P. J., Wyatt, H. R., Hill, J. O., Brill, C., Bailer, B., Miller, B. V., 3rd, Stein, R., Klein, S., & Foster, G. D. (2011). Change in food cravings, food preferences, and appetite during a low-carbohydrate and low-fat diet. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)19(10), 1963–1970. https://doi.org/10.1038/oby.2011.62

[4] Masood W, Annamaraju P, Uppaluri KR. (2020). Ketogenic Diet. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499830/

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Mythbuster Monday: “Eating cholesterol is bad for you.” PLUS Roasted Carrots & Turkey Recipe

THE MYTH: Eating cholesterol is bad for you.
THE TRUTH: High cholesterol foods can be a part of a healthy diet. Cholesterol, itself, isn’t  “good” or “bad”. It is simply a natural building block for your cells, hormones, and more. Your body gets cholesterol in two ways: from foods you eat and from the cholesterol your liver makes. The main food sources of cholesterol are red meat, eggs (yolks, mainly), butter, dairy, fish oils, and stuff in baked goods (like palm oil and coconut oil).

So, where does the bad rap come from? Eating cholesterol is only one dietary factor that affects the cholesterol circulating in your blood. Another key dietary factor is saturated fat. Some of the foods that are high in cholesterol are also high in saturated fat. Saturated fat can cause your liver to make more cholesterol than it would normally. In a healthy body, this isn’t so bad, because some high cholesterol foods (like eggs) also contain a ton of nutrients, and your body naturally regulates cholesterol in several ways. But, in a person with other risk factors, high saturated fat can eventually lead to cholesterol problems, hardening of your arteries, and increase the risk of a heart attack.

Don’t be discouraged! There is a lot you can do to naturally aid your body’s cholesterol metabolism. Exercising, eating a balanced diet, limiting saturated fat intake, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol intake, and avoiding cigarette smoking can all protect you from harmful cholesterol levels. The American Heart Association recommends that less than 5-10% of your total daily calories come from saturated fat. If you eat 2,000 Calories a day, then that is between 100-200 Calories from saturated fat. Adults should also get their cholesterol (and other heart risk factors) checked every 4-6 years.

Thanks to Coach Brian, we have another delicious recipe, low in saturated fat and high in delicious! Check out the cooking tutorial and recipe below.

~Sierra

References

American Heart Association. (2017). What Your Cholesterol Levels Mean. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/about-cholesterol/what-your-cholesterol-levels-mean

Soliman G. A. (2018). Dietary Cholesterol and the Lack of Evidence in Cardiovascular Disease. Nutrients10(6), 780. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10060780

Roasted Carrots & Ground Turkey

Serves 4
Nutrition Facts: Calories 388, Carbs 26g, Protein, 26g, Fat ~20g with jalapeno sauce (10g without sauce)

  • 1 Bag carrots, peeled and trimmed
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/2 of a 28oz can of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Ground ginger 
  • Cumin
  • Garlic powder or granulated
  • Salt and pepper
  • Jalapeno sauce Trader Joes
  1. Arrange carrots on a foil lined sheet tray and season with salt, pepper, ground ginger and then drizzle with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Roast in the oven at 425 until carrots are fork tender and take on some color, usually about 45 minutes or so.
  2. In a heated Dutch oven or large pan, add 1 tbsp of olive oil followed by the ground turkey. Once the ground turkey starts to really break apart, season with cumin, garlic powder, salt, pepper and then add in the tomatoes. Make sure to break apart the tomatoes and then leave at a simmer for about an hour until the sauce reduces by some and thickens. Feel free to get creative and add in additional ingredients you may enjoy. A few examples could be beans, chickpeas or zucchini.
  3. Optional: If you like spicy food, you can top with hot sauce or I love the Jalapeno Sauce from Trader Joes.
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4 Things to Ask Yourself Before Taking a Supplement

Supplements are everywhere. You can find them on the shelves at the grocery store, or stores like GNC and Vitamin Shoppe. You can get supplements as vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, amino acids, enzymes and so on. They are usually marketed as the missing puzzle piece to complete health, peak exercise performance, and optimal recovery. But, do you need them? Are they worth the money? Are they safe? Here are 4 things to ask yourself before you start taking a supplement.

#1 “Am I getting enough nutrients from my diet?”

A simple way to find out if you are getting enough nutrients from your diet is to use a food tracking app for a week. A food tracking app will first ask you about your age and your sex. Then, based on your food log, the app can tell you if you are short of any nutrients. My personal favorite food tracking app is Cronometer. It is free! And, unlike many of the other food trackers out there, Cronometer tracks the micronutrients (aka vitamins and minerals), which are one of the most commonly available form of supplements. A doctor can also perform some labs and blood work to find nutrient deficiencies.

#2 “Can I adjust my diet to improve my nutrient intake?”

If you find that you’re consistently getting low amounts of a certain nutrient, see if there is a way you can alter your diet to get more of that nutrient. Getting nutrients from food over supplements is ideal. Food gives us things that a pill, powder, or gummy supplement can’t. The nutrients that naturally occur in foods are balanced and work in synergy with one another. So, if you’re short on something like calcium, are you able (and willing) to eat more foods with calcium? For some people, this might be easy to do by eating more yogurt, ice cream, dairy, spinach, broccoli, and salmon. For someone with lactose intolerance, or an aversion to dark leafy vegetables, this might be a no go. Or, if you’re a strict vegetarian who wants collagen or creatine, you aren’t going to be able to get those from your diet. Also, people who are vegans, people with autoimmune diseases (i.e. Crohn’s, celiac disease), people with alcoholism, and people who eat less than 1600 Calories a day might have a hard time meeting their nutrient recommendations through food alone.

So, if you are consistently short on a nutrient and have decided that the best way for you to get it is through a supplement, keep reading.

#3 “Do I understand the ingredients in this supplement and how they affect my health?

Some nutrients interact with medications (i.e. antibiotics, cholesterol medication, antidepressants, and more). Many nutrients interact with other nutrients, and some will compete for absorption in your body. These effects are a concern for people with certain health conditions, people getting surgery, or women who are pregnant/trying to get pregnant/nursing. Disclaimer: you should discuss supplement use with your doctor or dietitian beforehand.

Once you have decided to try a supplement the first things to look at are the ingredients and the dosage. These are usually written on the back of the package under “Supplement Facts”. The amounts may be expressed in different units (i.e. grams, milligrams, International Units (IUs), or percentage daily value (DV) (if there is an established recommended intake). Keep in mind that when it comes to choosing a high-quality supplement, more isn’t better. Moderate dosage matters, for nutrients like calcium, where there is a dose-response relationship. Supplements sometimes contain more than 100% of the DV and can exceed a person’s tolerable upper intake level. At best, this can be a waste of money. At worst, this can lead to nutrient toxicities.

#4 “Was this supplement manufactured with good practices?”

Unlike the food you eat and the medicine you take, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) does not review or approve any dietary supplement products before they are for sale. This raises concerns about the purity and safety of the products. When you take a supplement, you take the risk of consuming unintentional ingredients (i.e. fillers or banned illegal substances) and contaminants (i.e. heavy metals, arsenic, bacteria) in that product. Luckily, organizations like the FDA Good Manufacturing Processes (GMFP), United States Pharmacopeia Convention, Consumer Lab, and National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) evaluate some supplement companies to make sure their factories, procedures, and products measure up to very high standards for purity and composition. But, the majority of supplement companies do not go through these certification tests and could be selling you a phony product in a pretty package (Progenex, anyone?). When choosing a supplement, look for these seals on the label to make sure that the product you are buying complies with the standards for good manufacturing practices. These seals do not guarantee that the product will give you results. But their seals are a good indication that the product contains the amount of the ingredient advertised on the label and that it isn’t contaminated with dangerous substances.

~Sierra

References

Dunford, M., & Doyle, JA., (2019). Nutrition for Sport and Exercise (4th Ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning Inc.

Forbes. (2015). Lawsuits Say Protein Powders Lack Protein, Ripping Off Athletes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/alexmorrell/2015/03/12/lawsuits-say-protein-powders-lack-protein-ripping-off-athletes/#116b3c8c7729

Jacobs, D. R., Jr, Gross, M. D., & Tapsell, L. C. (2009). Food synergy: an operational concept for understanding nutrition. The American journal of clinical nutrition89(5), 1543S–1548S. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.2009.26736B

National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health [NIH NCCIH]. (2019). Using Dietary Supplements Wisely. Retrieved from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/supplements/wiseuse.htm 

National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements [NIH ODS]. (2013). Dietary Supplement Label Database for Researchers. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/Health_Information/ODS_Frequently_Asked_Questions.aspx 

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Working with Your Cravings

Since the quarantine, we have all hit a bump in the road with our wellness. Not having outdoor space, no gym, and being taken out of our normal routine has done some damage. But just because we have one flat tire, that doesn’t mean we slash the other three. If constant cravings are a struggle and it is something you want to experience less, here is how you can address those urges in a way that is nutritious and freeing:

  1. Eat frequent, substantial and well-balanced meals. Frequent means multiple times a day. Substantial means at least 300-500 Calories. Balanced means that there are multiple food groups in your dish (vegetables, lean proteins, grains, fruits, healthy fats). This is CRUCIAL to help your body stabilize blood sugar, neurotransmitters, and hormones that regulate your hunger and cravings signals.
  2. Do not buy highly processed foods. When you go to the grocery store, shop the outside perimeter first. Save the aisles for last. Why? The outside perimeter is where the fresh food is! The aisles is where the ultra-processed foods are stocked (chips, candies, boxed cookies, etc.). Highly processed foods are not “bad” (no food is). BUT, these foods are neither satisfying nor will they reduce your cravings. The more processed a food is, the less the food resembles its original, nutritious, state. (For example, a corn tortilla chip no longer resembles actual corn or corn’s benefits). Processed carbohydrates stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain, but only briefly. The more food is processed, the lower is satiety potential is, and the more likely you are to continue snacking.
  3. Choose snacks high in fiber and protein. When you ARE ready for the aisles, try to get snacks high in protein and fiber (examples: nuts, roasted edamame, popcorn, rice cakes, raisins, etc.). Protein is highly satisfying and provides amino acids needed for proper digestion. Fiber also slows digestion, helping you extract nutrients and stay fuller longer. Women and men should get 30g and 40g of fiber per day, respectively.
  4. Make well-balanced snacks. Just like your meals, snacks should be well-balanced. Having quality protein, fat, and carbs in your snack stabilizes your blood sugar. This helps you feel more satisfied and calm, so you are less inclined to snack further. Adding seasoning, spices, crunchy textures, or a hint of sweetness to your snacks can also add some of those flavors or textures you might be craving.

5. Stay hydrated! This one is underrated, but it can really help. Your body needs water for every metabolic process. Adequate hydration optimizes how your body uses energy and can help you feel fuller. In addition to getting water from foods, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends drinking 72 fluid oz per day for women, and 100 fluid oz per day for men. Jazz up your water with some fruit, mint, a sugar-free flavor enhancer, BCAA powder, make it fizzy, etc.

6. Clean out your pantry and fridge. Get rid of any foods that are expired, unsatisfying, or that distract you from your goals. This activity is not about labeling food as “good or bad”. But it will help you make space for the new, nutritious, foods that you might want to try!

There is no silver bullet to stop your cravings all the time. Cravings are not bad. They may simply be an indicator that your body is yearning for something nutritious. So next time you are having uncontrollable cravings, try these steps and see what works for you. Taking steps to care for your health and body today will make it all the more easy for you when it is time to get back in the gym!

Sierra

Refereces

Gordon RDN LD, G. (2020). How Much Water Do You Need? https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/healthy-eating/how-much-water-do-you-need

Fardet, A. (2016). Minimally processed foods are more satiating and less hyperglycemic than ultra-processed foods: a preliminary study with 98 ready-to-eat foods. Food Funct. 7(5):2338-46. doi: 10.1039/c6fo00107f.

Njike, V. Y., Smith, T. M., Shuval, O., Shuval, K., Edshteyn, I., Kalantari, V., & Yaroch, A. L. (2016). Snack Food, Satiety, and Weight. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.)7(5), 866–878. https://doi.org/10.3945/an.115.009340

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Pros & Cons of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting (IF) is a dietary regimen that involves eating or fasting on a schedule. During the feeding period, people can eat whatever they want. During the fasting period, there is a total absence of calories and eating. People who do IF might:

  • eat only every other day.
  • eat for a some hours in the day, and fast for most of the other hours.

Why do people do it? IF is mainly used as a weight management tool. Supporters of IF believe that the diet helps them lose weight and regulate their metabolism. Supporters also like prolonged fasting so their bodies can use more fat stores for energy. This logic is taken up a notch for some who say that IF improves blood pressure and cholesterol levels (though these two things tend to happen with weight loss, in general).

So, is the wait worth it? Let’s look at the pros and cons. Since we are a physically active bunch, our comparison will mainly consider IF schedules that let us eat daily, but with restricted hours.

ProsCons
IF does not restrict food groups. Unlike Paleo, keto, Whole30, Zone, and other fad diets, you can still eat whatever foods you want!There is potential muscle wasting. If you are not eating enough protein throughout the day, your body will break down your lean tissue for amino acids. Eating a ton of protein at once won’t help you, because protein is not stored as energy. Instead, the excess amounts get stored as fat.
IF does not limit calories. This makes the diet even more simple to follow! …but calorie restriction IS an option. Calorie restriction is usually necessary if you are trying to lose weight. In fact, studies that show when people lose weight with IF, it is simply because their average daily calorie intake dropped.Your workouts may suffer. Depending on your eating schedule and the time of your workouts, you may not have the energy you need to carry you through a workout. The lack of glucose and glycogen stores may cause fatigue, which makes strength training very difficult.
The structure is simple. Holding back from eating for many hours may not be the EASIEST thing to do, but the structure itself is simple (and some people really like structure). For example, if you trying to avoid nighttime snacking, the structured schedule might be the thing for you.You may not optimally adapt from workouts. If your IF schedule restricts you from eating after exercise, then your muscles will lack the fuel they need to recover. Whether you are doing a WOD, surfing, or jogging, your muscles need protein and carbohydrates to optimally adapt.
IF can improve sleep rhythm and cortisol levels. Some people who do IF report having less hunger at bedtime and better sleep satisfaction.Fasting can cause you to lose focus. Your brain runs on glucose, but your glycogen stores can only last you about 12 hours (even less if you exercise).
 IF might not fit your lifestyle. Eating on a set schedule might not be compatible with your family, work, or social life.
 IF is not safe for those with eating disorders, diabetes, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and medications that require food. Even though we are an active bunch, we have different states of health and should ALWAYS consult a dietitian before making dramatic changes to our diet!

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Since there are many IF schedules. Every study looks at the effects of eating on different schedules. In other words, a study that shows results for eating every other day can’t be looked at the same way as one where you eat 12-hours on and 12-hours off.
  • Many IF studies are in animals, not just humans. Also, humans don’t live in a lab. We are free-living and thinking people, with social influences, values, and other things that inform our food choices.
  • The research has no conclusion on IF. The thing with fad diets is that they’re new, and research takes a lot of time. While scientists are busy being thorough, some people jump the gun and share nutrition advice that simply isn’t proven.

The bottom line is: Due to the lack of convincing research, there are currently no strong recommendations for IF for weight loss or any other health condition. If your goal is to lose weight, IF can help. However, ample research shows that the reason IF-weight loss is successful is because of the good old fashion practice of cutting back on calories every day. For active folks like you, it is most beneficial to focus your energy on when you SHOULD fuel, and not when NOT to fuel. Next week, we will talk about nutrient timing. Please add your questions in the comments!

Sierra

References

Cioffi, I. et al. (2018). Intermittent versus continuous energy restriction on weight loss and cardiometabolic outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of translational medicine16(1), 371. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12967-018-1748-4

Harvard School of Public Health. (N.D.). Diet Review: Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss. Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/intermittent-fasting/

Jamshed, H. et al. (2019). Early Time-Restricted Feeding Improves 24-Hour Glucose Levels and Affects Markers of the Circadian Clock, Aging, and Autophagy in Humans. Nutrients11(6), 1234. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11061234

Orenstein, B. (2014). Intermittent Fasting: The Key to Long-Term Weight Loss? Today’s Dietitian. 26(12), p.40.  https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/120914p40.shtml

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Is Paleo right for me?

The Paleolithic Diet (a.k.a. Paleo) is a modern fad diet that mimics what early humans ate in the prehistoric ages. Paleo advocates reason that humans are designed to eat foods that existed before modern farming and agriculture, because they believe that foods in the modern diet lead to obesity and chronic diseases. So, the goal of Paleo is to only eat foods that can be hunted and gathered. This includes meat, eggs, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. It doesn’t include dairy, legumes (soy, peas, lentils, beans), grains (rice, wheat, oats, corn), sugar, and alcohol.

Onto the big question: Is Paleo right for you? Let’s look at the pros and cons.

ProsCons
Paleo is high in whole, natural, foods. Lean meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds are nutrient-dense, which have countless amazing health benefits! This can be a huge improvement from the traditional Western diet, especially if you’re used to eating a lot of processed foods.Paleo can be low in carbohydrates. The diet is not coined as a “low carb” diet, but the lack of grains and legumes make this diet inherently low carb. Carbohydrates are the body’s key energy source for brain function and high intensity exercise.
Paleo is low in refined sugars and trans fats. This can lead to improvements in blood sugar, blood lipid profiles, and insulin sensitivity.Paleo can be low in fiber. Legumes and whole grains are high in dietary fiber. A bunch of evidence shows that diets high in fiber reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other nutrition-related diseases.
Paleo foods have low-calorie density.  Nutrient-dense foods in Paleo mean you can eat a pretty large volume of food without excessive calories. Research shows Paleo is favorable for short-term weight management.Paleo is nearly impossible for vegetarians or vegans to follow. A vegetarian or vegan Paleo dieter is limited to eating only fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. This severely restricts the energy and critical nutrients (protein, B-vitamins, Vitamin D, iron, essential fatty acids, zinc, calcium, and phosphorous) these people can get from their diet.
 Paleo is low in calcium and phosphorous. Dairy is a key source of calcium and phosphorous, which are essential for bone health, among many other things.
 Foods can be expensive. Eating 100% perishable and fresh foods can be expensive. Lesser expensive foods such as rice, beans, pastas, corn, and bread are not allowed in the diet.

There are a few flaws with the Paleo logic:

  • There is no “ONE” Paleolithic diet. Early humans’ food options were based on geography and available resources.
  • Modern farmed meat is not as lean as the wild game that our ancestors used to hunt. So, a modern diet that prioritizes meats is likely high in fat, especially saturated fat.
  • Not all modern agriculture is evil. Sure, modern food practices gave way to ultra-processed, sugar-filled, foods that have virtually no health benefits. But, why do all naturally grown foods need to be clustered into that category as well?

So, is Paleo right for you? While there are benefits to the Paleo, its cons outweigh the pros. For CrossFitters especially, high-intensity and strength workouts can take a big hit from a low-carbohydrate diet. My advice: take the best of both worlds! Your diet DOES NOT have to be black or white. If your body can tolerate it, eating a complete and well-balanced diet (including some of your favorite treats) is way more favorable and sustainable than a very restrictive diet. This will give you the best outcomes for your health, fitness, and quality of life. But, if you are considering making big changes to your diet, talk to your doctor or a dietitian to ensure it makes sense for you.

Sierra

References

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (2019). Should We Eat Like Our Caveman Ancestors? https://www.eatright.org/health/weight-loss/fad-diets/should-we-eat-like-our-caveman-ancestors

Eaton SB, Eaton SR, Konner MJ. (1997). Paleolithic nutrition revisited: a twelve-year retrospective on its nature and implications. Eur J Clin Nutr.  51(4):207–216. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1600389.

Obert, J., Pearlman, M., Obert, L. et al. Popular Weight Loss Strategies: a Review of Four Weight Loss Techniques. Curr Gastroenterol Rep 19, 61 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11894-017-0603-8

University of California Davis Health. (2015). Is the paleo diet safe for your health?. https://health.ucdavis.edu/welcome/features/2014-2015/06/20150603_paleo-diet.html

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How can I stop snacking at home? PLUS Pineapple Fried Quinoa!

If you are trying to reduce snacking, there are a lot of different approaches you can take. The “best” strategy varies, because it depends on why you are snacking. Are you bored? Are you stressed? Or, are you just really hungry? A good place to start figuring out the cause of your snacking is to make sure you are eating frequent, substantial, balanced meals.

  • Frequent means multiple times a day
  • Substantial means at least 300-500 Calories
  • Balanced means that there are multiple food groups in your dish (vegetables, lean proteins, grains, fruits, healthy fats, etc.)

Start with breakfast. Regular, large, breakfast consumption increases satiety, reduces total caloric intake, and improves overall dietary quality in your later meals. In other words, eating a good breakfast can keep you fuller for longer, and helps you eat healthier foods instead of junk. An example of a substantial, balanced, breakfast is two slices of whole grain toast, two eggs, and some fruit. It is NOT one slice of toast with peanut butter. Healthy bodies are smart. Your hormones, muscles, and brain will know if you are underfed and if you are lacking nutrients. This can lead to ravenous snacking. For later meals, foods high in protein and fiber are very satisfying. Adding high protein or fiber foods such as nuts, seeds, low-sugar granola, or oats can jazz up the textures of any meal. The sensory experience can also help you stay full. Here is another excellent, high-fiber and high-protein meal by Coach Brian!

Pineapple Fried Quinoa with Shrimp

Serves 2
Nutrition Facts: Calories 457, Carbs 46g: Protein 35g, Fat 15g

  • 2 cups cooked Quinoa
  • 1 cup diced Pineapple
  • 12 Shrimp (peeled)
  • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup diced Onion
  • 1/8 cup Cilantro
  • 2 Eggs 
  • 1/4 tsp of each: Cayenne Pepper, Garlic Powder, Ginger Powder, Black Pepper
  • Optional: Cashews or nuts
  1. Season shrimp with cayenne pepper, garlic powder, ginger powder, and black pepper
  2. In a heated pan, add 1/2 the olive oil, followed by the seasoned shrimp and toss for 2 minutes
  3. Add pineapple and cooked quinoa and toss for an additional minute
  4. Carve out a circle in the center of your pan and add the remaining olive oil followed by the eggs. Scramble the eggs within that center until they are just about cooked through
  5. Add the soy sauce, raw onion and cilantro and toss together for one more minute 
  6. Optional: Top with cashews, nuts, edamame, or a crunch healthy fat of your choice.

References

Kahleova, H., Lloren, J. I., Mashchak, A., Hill, M., & Fraser, G. E. (2017). Meal Frequency and Timing Are Associated with Changes in Body Mass Index in Adventist Health Study 2. The Journal of nutrition147(9), 1722–1728. https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.116.244749

Chambers L., McCrickerd K., Yeomans M.R. (2015). Optimising foods for satiety. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 41(2), p. 149-160. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tifs.2014.10.007

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Mythbuster Monday: “Vegetarians don’t get enough protein.” Plus Red Lentil Pasta!

THE MYTH: Vegetarians can’t get as much protein from their diet as meat eaters.

THE TRUTH: A lot of vegetarian foods have enough protein to keep you healthy, full, and physically fit! Even a competitive vegetarian athlete can get enough protein in their diet to support an active lifestyle. Although, being vegetarian does not imply “healthier”. It is up to the individual to mix a variety of complementary protein foods in their meals, like beans, lentils, tofu, eggs, yogurt, etc. Also, the proteins in vegetarian foods are incomplete and less bioavailable than the protein from animal products (meaning the body will not be able to absorb as much protein from the veggies as it would from meats). So, to maintain muscle and health, vegetarians should plan to eat 10% more protein than carnivores and eat a combination of multiple protein sources. Speaking of eating, enjoy this delicious, simply, recipe by Coach Brian!

Red Lentil Pasta (Vegetarian)

Serves 2
Nutrition facts per serving: 421 Calories, 47g Carbs, 19g Protein, 17g Fat

  • 1 1/2 cups Red Lentil Pasta (Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Garbanzo Beans
  • 1/2 cup Frozen or Fresh Peas
  • 1/3 cup Grecian Style Eggplant with Tomato & Onion (Trader Joe’s)
  • 10 Black Olives
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Boil your red lentil pasta to desired doneness.
  2. In a preheated pan, add half the olive oil, followed by the garbanzo beans, olives, peas and eggplant. Toss together for 1 minute and smash in the olives with the back of a fork.
  3. Add in the drained cooked red lentil pasta, half of the parmesan cheese and remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss together for 1 minute.
  4. Transfer to a serving bowl or dish and top with remaining parmesan cheese.
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Refueling after your WOD

Another way to maximize your gains during quarantine is to properly refuel! Within 1-2 hours of working out, prepare yourself a meal or large snack. Focus on eating carbohydrates and protein. The carbohydrates you eat will help replace the glycogen (a.k.a. your body’s glucose storage and a key energy source) that your muscles just used up. The amino acids from protein will help your muscles repair and slow down further breakdown after your workout. Both nutrients are key to helping you adapt, so you can crush the next WOD. How much you need to refuel will depend on your body weight and how hard you worked.

You might be wondering, “Why do I need to refuel ASAP after my WOD?” Research is still mixed about the anabolic window, a.k.a. the theory that there is a “window” of opportunity to maximize muscle growth after exercise via post-exercise nutrition. Whether the anabolic window “applies” depends on a lot of factors. HOWEVER, referring back to our previous blog post, our bodies are CONSTANTLY using protein for all kinds of functions (not just muscle growth). Protein is digested about 5 – 10 g per hour, depending on the type. So if you ate a meal with 20 g of protein 4 hours before your WOD, that dietary protein has already been digested and went into circulation. If your body hits a negative protein balance, then it will start breaking down your organ and muscle tissues to get the proteins it needs to function. Bottomline, if you have just worked out and it has been several hours since you ate, you need to refuel ASAP if you want to keep your gains.

To figure out your post WOD intake, follow two steps.

  1. Figure out your weight in kilograms. To calculate your bodyweight in kilograms: take your weight in pounds and divide by 2.2. For example, a person who weighs 150 pounds weighs 68 kg (150 pounds / 2.2 = 68 kg).
  2. Ask yourself, “How hard did I work?”. Be honest! Listen to your body. Then, plan your meal based on these guidelines.

Notice that you need more carbs than protein. During quarantine, most of us will be doing light or moderate WODs. And that is okay! Continue to move and eat well when you can, and you can still stay healthy, strong, and fit.

References

Aragon, A. A., & Schoenfeld, B. J. (2013). Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window?. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 10(1), 5. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-10-5

Renaissance Periodization. (N.D.) Product Guide. https://renaissanceperiodization.com/set-goal/first-step

Thomas, T. PhD, RDN, CSSD, Erdman, K.A. MSc, RD, CSSD, Burke, L.M. OAM, PhD, APD, FACSM. (2017). Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 116(3), 501-528. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2015.12.006

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