The necessity of dieting
At the elite level, gone are the days of athletes throwing a pre-match/tournament meal down consisting of chips (no, not the sweet potato kind) and gravy. No matter what the sport, there are now nutritionists on hand to make sure athletes are getting the right fuel for their bodies.
So it makes sense that in Crossfit, where diet is already a key focal point with
“Zone” or “Paleo”, athletes look after their diet. Of course there are going to be exceptions but even Rich Froning is beginning to add in the odd balanced meal in place of his peanut butter, milk and cookies. The problem is that many people still look at diet as an added extra. Many still have the viewpoint that if they are only training to get a bit fitter they don’t need to look after the diet as much. If they were training to compete they would eat well, but they’re not and the training is what will get us fit, right?
Well, sort of, but there’s more to it. Sure hitting a workout every night will get you fitter, but I’m not saying training or diet alone will get you to where you want to be. It is the combination of both that will really make you see progress. One without the other is kind of pointless. Crossfit is perhaps the evil that it is good where diet is concerned because of its effectiveness as a training program. People see results without actually changing their diet and assume it will stay that way. The truth of the matter is that this will only last a short time. If you want to take the next step to achieving your goals then it may be time to assess what goes onto your plate. Here’s why…
Summer is just around the corner
Ok, so I know most of you reading this will care more about performance rather than looks, but who doesn’t like going on holidays with abs?
All jokes aside, diet is the single most influencing factor in altering body composition. Whilst training and working hard in the gym will get you started in making inroads into how you look, there is only so much your body can change before it begins to need more of the right nutrition.
As I mentioned earlier, Crossfit is so effective that you do initially see results solely by training. However as you get fitter, stronger, faster and leaner your body begins to change how it processes food. It stops functioning incorrectly and starts functioning correctly, it uses food to grow and repair rather than storing it as reserve for a rainy day. This means that you need to get your diet right to allow your body to utilize food in the best way to get the best results out of your training. Without this you will stall, the results will stop or slow and training will become fruitless.
Your body stops functioning incorrectly and starts functioning correctly, it uses food to grow and repair rather than storing it as reserve for a rainy day.
Regardless of your goals, whether that be to lose those few extra pounds, fit into your wedding suit/dress, or get into Regional condition, by altering your diet you can alter body composition to be at optimum levels. Dieting is the quickest and safest way to do this. The saying you can’t out-train a bad diet may appear to be incorrect in Crossfit, however this is only for a short period. If you really want to change how you look, get the right fuel for your body. You will not only look better, you will also feel better. And furthermore, what’s the point in having all that fitness and nothing to show for it?
By altering your diet you can alter body composition
Bigger, Faster, Stronger
There is a reason all high level sports now employ someone whose job it is to make sure every athlete has the correctly sourced, amount and quality of food on their plates at the right times. That reason is because diet is one of the most influencing factors on performance and more importantly recovery. Don’t believe me?
Try one or both of these two options:
1. Go and train hard, get a really good session in and when you go home do one of those two things: either eat very little or a lot of rubbish (crisps and sweets work well). Now go to bed and see how you feel the next day.
2. Alternatively, before you go training stop off at an “all you can eat” or try having a salad, just a salad. Now go and train and see how intense that session is.
Ok, you know what? Don’t actually try it.
I’ve tried them both in an attempt to see how diet effects training and recovery. I can safely say that both are useless. My point is simple: without getting the right food in your body you will not be able to perform well or recover correctly. After all, the whole point of Crossfit is to allow you to perform better at life, so your diet should allow you to perform better.
A training partner once told me that whilst on his level one, the instructor vouched that getting your diet right is not too dissimilar to using other methods of “performance enhancement” (you all know what I mean). That may seem extreme or unbelievable to most people but think about it scientifically. Diet is basically a factor that has a large impact upon your body’s hormones. Hormones are the main influencer in how your body functions. Getting these balanced in the optimum way is the best way to maximise performance. Therefore, getting your diet balanced in a way that suits your individual needs is the fastest way to get your hormones in check to allow you to maximise performance. It’s that simple.
Each to their own
The final point around why dieting is so important is that just as with training, each individual will respond differently to different stimulus. There are obviously going to be basic fundamentals that everyone will need to adhere too such as don’t consume to little or to many calories, eat the right type of foods not fast foods, or making sure your post training meal is always right even if others have not been as good quality. However, the way in which these are made up will differ from person to person. What works for one person may not work for another, one individual may respond well to a higher carbohydrate, moderate fat and protein diet whereas another may respond to high fat, moderate carbohydrate and moderate protein.
The key is to find out what works for you.
Don’t get too caught up on eating in a particular way just because someone tells you it is right or a book recommends it. Don’t get me wrong it may be perfect for you, just try it for a period first and track the results. This is the only way you are going to be able to compare what works best for you before making any adjustments to really bring your diet on point. By doing this you will quickly be able to understand how to manipulate your diet to reach the goals you are setting. That may be to gain a few extra kilograms of weight or lose that bit of unwanted fat, either way by taking time to experiment and find a diet that works for you, and more importantly what foods you react to best, you will be able to attain these goals faster. You will find that your body will react rapidly by getting the ratio’s and types of food to fit these ratios correct.
The point around the type of food is something I found for myself. Initially I assumed a carb was a carb, protein was protein and fat was fat. However after experimenting a bit, I quickly learnt that my body responds differently to specific foods within these food groups. By identifying this it simply let me get my diet even more beneficial towards training and recovery.
You will find that eating the right type of foods within food groups helps you manage inflammation, joints will feel better, you will have even more energy, be less sore and able to train at a higher intensity for longer.
Give it a go
That is the underlying idea around getting your diet dialled in. Experiment a little bit and try different methods. Not only will you learn a lot about yourself but you will also pick up some ideas that may help another member at your gym! Your diet will be unique to you so find out what it is and then enjoy the benefits, don’t stress if you then have the odd meal that doesn’t fit because you will now easily be able get back on track. Have fun, try it and enjoy the gains!