Nutrition: Keep It Simple

“The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine, or the slowest form of poison.”
We all know that nutrition is important; there’s no way to take your health and fitness seriously and not have at least considered your nutritional intake to be a part of all that.  But many of us prioritize the physical training piece first, and finally backtrack to nutrition when we feel that we’re in a rut, no longer PR’ing every lift and taking minutes off of our Fran time.  Whether that’s where you currently are, or if you’re just beginning your fitness journey, or maybe even you’ve already addressed your nutrition plan, now is a great time to take a look (or re-look!) at what you’re putting in your belly.  Last week we shared an article from CrossFit on the benefits and specifics around tracking your food.  Hopefully you’ve given that a shot, and from that have a basic idea of what you’ve been eating, and how much, on an average day.  As we go through the next month, we’ll start getting a bit more specific on how to make improvements in your nutritional plan, beginning this time with what you should be eating for optimal health.
The CrossFit nutritional prescription is to eat “meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, a little starch, and no sugar.”  That’s pretty simple, which is great because the more complicated a plan is, the more you have to think about it, the harder it gets.  That’s not to say though that this is easy to follow, especially with all the food choices we have out there.  This is also not easy to start following if your current diet description would look very different than this, such as “bread and meat, sugar and dairy, a little fruit and no vegetables”.  If you do see big gaps in your nutrition vs. the CrossFit model, let’s look at how you can start making small changes.
Starting from the end, there is a call for “NO SUGAR”.  You could kind of see that coming, right?  Sugar is not good for your overall health in that unless it is used quickly for energy, it is stored as excess bodyfat.  It is also addictive, and food marketers understand that and make it very appealing on top of that, to us and our kids.  Try to get your kids to switch from Lucky Charms to regular Cheerios and you’ll see the consequences of that addictive pull.  So, the majority of the time, we should be choosing foods that do not contain any sugar.  The best way to do that is to not eat processed foods, and instead concentrate on whole foods like…
MEAT and VEGETABLES.  These should be the basis of every meal.  For breakfast, you can lump eggs into the meat category.  And yes, you can and should eat veggies for breakfast.  Saute some spinach with garlic and put that on the side of your scrambled eggs and bacon!  For lunch, have a big salad with some chicken and avocado on top.  For dinner, grill some fish (seafood would be considered “meat” in this simplified plan) and zucchini side by side.  Eat a sensible amount of protein with every meal (a rule of thumb for meat is about the size of your fist), and eat as many veggies as you want.  Use healthy oils (olive, coconut) to cook with and add some fat which will help keep you feeling full.
NUTS and SEEDS.  These healthy fat sources are also great options to add to a meal, or have as a snack if you feel you need more calories in your diet.  Dietary fat has the largest calorie-to-gram of food ratio at 9:1, so while there is no restrictive word in front of this group like “some” or “little”, it’s best to keep your intake here to small quantities at a time so that you don’t accidentally overeat here.  Denee would tell you that I am basically writing to myself on this one.
SOME FRUIT.  Fruit is healthy – it has amazing nutrients and vitamins that we need to thrive.  But it is also very high in sugar… it tastes sweet, right?  That’s fructose, which is just another type of sugar and is treated by your digestive system the same way.  So, eat fruit, but not too much, OK?
LITTLE STARCH.  Potatoes, sweet potatoes and rice are whole foods that are healthy, and great energy sources for working out.  If you’re not working out, don’t eat very much of these, because they are also very energy-dense and will be stored as fat just like sugar if not readily used.  We use starches in our diet at the Wolf house primarily in the two meals after a workout (for me that would be lunch and dinner), to refuel your muscles and general energy levels.  But base your diet on starches and you’ll find your blood sugar climbing after the meal and then dropping, leaving you feeling lethargic and wanting more food.  That’s a good way to get on the overeating train.  Pay attention also to how grains make you feel (bread, pasta, etc).  Grains are a good source of energy when you need it but also cause gut inflammation with many people due to the gluten they contain, and thus they are excluded from many modern nutrition plans.
Well there you have it – now don’t stray from this at all or else it won’t work.  Yeah, right.  We’re all human, and all enjoy “sometimes foods” as we tell our kids.  The key is to make the right decision MOST of the time.  Don’t let a Friday night of pizza and beer derail your whole weekend – the next time you eat is another opportunity to get good food in your belly and cement your nutritional habits.  One more great thing about joining a CrossFit gym is that all of your friends from the box are also very nutritionally conscious, so hanging out with them doesn’t have to mean eating badly!
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for some more great nutritional info coming your way soon!

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