Sugar is everywhere these days. It’s not just in your common violators like ice cream or pop. It’s also in foods labeled as “health foods”, such as protein bars, smoothies, sports drinks, and basically any item labeled as low fat. So why is this a problem? Well, if you have been through our 6-Week Challenge you have probably heard why sugar is causing problems, so in case you have forgotten or need a refresher, this is for you.
Junk In, Junk Out
Too much sugar has been linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease – all things that we are fighting against at CrossFit Icehouse. You have probably heard it before that you cannot out work a bad diet. So even if you are going to the gym 5-7 days per week, but you are eating and fueling yourself with junk, you will get the health results of eating junk.
So, how much sugar is a safe amount? The World Health Organization recommends that sugar be no more than 5% of your daily calorie intake. This works out to be about 6 teaspoons, or 25 grams. The American Heart Association recommends limiting sugar to no more than 100 calories/day or 6 teaspoons for women, and 150 calories/day or 9 teaspoons for men. In Greg Glassman’s Fitness in 100 Words he says, “Eat meat and veggies, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar”. He does say “no sugar”, but that is with the idea that you will be eating good quality whole foods that have a normal amount of natural sugar in them.
Good sugars can be found in almost all whole foods, especially fruits. The reason we want to get most of our sugar from these sources is because the sugar is supported by fiber, water and nutrients that keep your blood sugar levels from spiking like they do with added sugars. However, too much fruit could be a bad thing as well. Primarily if you pack a lot of fruit in a smoothie. Blending up fruit breaks it down further so that your digestive track doesn’t have to do as much work, thus increasing the blood sugar spike. So, do your best to eat fruit in its whole state and don’t over pack a smoothie with more fruit than you normally eat with a meal.
We know too much sugar is not good for us, we have an estimate of how much sugar to eat and we know what sources to get our sugar from. It is our responsibility to make sure we are not harming ourselves with too much sugar. However, you are not in this alone. If you struggle with binging on sweets or having too much sugar, reach out to someone who could be your accountability partner. You could also talk with a coach or sign up for Precision Nutrition Coaching to help dial in those cravings. Overall, try and pay attention to food labels and become an informed consumer.
The holiday season is a great time to catch up with family and friends, reflect on the past year and enjoy some holiday foods. This can also be a stressful time of year for those striving to eat healthy because of all the big holiday meals. Traveling and making good food choices can be exceptionally difficult. I hope to ease some of that stress by giving you some ideas for making healthy decisions on road trips and while traveling on airlines.
Have a Plan
The most important step to eating healthy while traveling is having a plan. If you don’t have a plan, you will easily be persuaded by unhealthy food options. Having a plan ensures that you have a decision made before temptation arises. A good plan starts by knowing how much time you will have to eat at each meal, and bringing snacks to cover unforeseen delays or flat tires.
When traveling through the airlines, good foods to have on hand are bags of mixed nuts, fruit, veggies, protein powder, RX Bars and potentially some hard-boiled eggs (though your neighbor might not like this idea). If you plan to eat at the airport, the best option is somewhere with a salad. Starbucks is everywhere and offers a good salad option. You can request additional protein and maybe sub the salad dressing for olive oil. If salad is not your thing, Starbucks also has pure protein packed options. Also, remember to drink plenty of water. Your body will thank you.
On the Road
For traveling on the road, a cooler is your best friend. Foods that work well in a cooler are eggs, avocados, deli meats, guacamole, salad greens and dressings like lemon juice, olive or avocado oil and mustard. Non-cooler options are fruits and veggies, nut butter, canned or packaged tuna and mixed nuts.
If you find yourself at a hotel, try to book a room with a mini fridge. Knowing you will have a fridge is a great opportunity to stop at a local grocery store and stock up on the foods listed above. A grocery store is a great substitute for a restaurant. Now days, most grocery stores have a deli where you can get some fresh meats and denser carbs like sweet potatoes or rice. Make a quick stop at the fruit and veggie isles and you have a solid meal! Also, keep your eye out for a salad bar, as these are becoming more popular.
Don’t Stress About It
Finally, don’t make eating healthy a huge stressor during your travels. If fast food is your ONLY option, order a cheeseburger and fries. After that meal, plan out your next meal to set up a healthier option. Remember: have a plan, stick to it, and enjoy the holiday season.
So where does all of my energy come from eating a Paleo diet? It’s time to talk about Fat, not like Doritos fat but healthy natural fats. As your body begins to realize you’re not going to be feeding it any simple sugars that it craves it has to find energy to keep you moving somewhere. The goal of this whole challenge, from the internal side, is to get you to be a fat burning machine. If you have been feeling a little sluggish, aka crabby, lately it’s because your body is deep in the heart of this transition.
Types of Fats
So let’s talk about types of fat of which there are 3 major types: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. We won’t dive too far into the nerdery for this one I’ll keep it simple.
Saturated Fat is Paleo approved – no, it doesn’t give you heart disease, or cancer or diabetes or anything else.
Monounsaturated fat is also Paleo approved.
Polyunsaturated fat is a little bit more complicated: Omega 6 and Omega 3. This can dive deep but for the short version get more Omega 3 (see fish oil) and less Omega 6 (see vegetable oil).
Food Sources of Paleo Fats
On Paleo, fat should be the main staple of your diet. Weird that eating fat won’t make you fat but I promise it won’t. This is where your energy (calories) is going to come from to get you through the day. Fat from whole foods should not be avoided, eat the whole egg, keep the skin on your chicken, cook with bacon fat or real butter. You want to avoid the fake stuff: canola oil, margarine, vegetable oil, etc…
How Much Fat Do I Need?
It’s a hard sell to get people to eat fat on a paleo diet after years of hearing that “fat is bad for you”. I promise fats from natural sources are really good for you, and yummy. Fat’s need to be the main source of energy (calories) in your diet. We want to avoid counting calories for now so make sure you are not removing the fat from whole foods. Use the whole egg when cooking and don’t remove the skin from your poultry. Make sure each meal contains either a fatty animal protein (ground beef, bacon or skin on chicken), 2 tablespoons of cooking fat, or an avocado, coconut milk or other healthy source of fat.
Don’t think you need to get crazy with it and start doing shots of coconut oil, make smart food choices and don’t be afraid of the fat! You’re energy level will start to skyrocket and you’ll be burning through you stored fat, making you a lean mean jacked unicorn.
We are one week into an Awesome nutrition challenge. This has been the best challenge we have done to date. Your collaboration with recipe sharing and tips and tricks has been so much fun! So today I’m going to discuss a not so exciting topic of “Paleo-fying”. I know it’s awesome to be able to make our ordinary foods with paleo ingredients but let’s dive into why I think it’s not always the best idea.
The reason we do a nutrition challenge with a paleo focus is to get back to eating real, healthy foods. It’s also to change the way we look at food. A majority of people don’t have the most healthy relationship with food and this allows us to showcase how getting back to the basics and really using food as a source of energy can make you feel amazing. When we paleo-fy our favorite unhealthy foods we’re not really changing any behaviors, thus not changing the way we see food. We see this happen the most with breads and desserts (I’ll nerd out on this more in a moment).
Photo Credit: David Paul Schmit Photography
Let’s say before this paleo challenge you were a hard core carbivour devouring bread and pastas at every turn. Now you’re on the challenge your brain is like “hey where’s the bread, I didn’t agree to this.” Your brain is doing whatever it can to stick to its old way of life so it comes up with the idea to make any type of paleo bread, scone, biscuit, bagel or pasta. Next thing you know you find yourself in the kitchen with Pinterest by your side covered in almond and coconut flour creating all the paleo baked goods. The problem with this is you haven’t really broken the habit or the relationship with the unhealthy foods. You have just subbed them out with something that has “approved” ingredients. However these ingredients in the quantities that are being consumed are not good for us either. When it comes to treats and breads there really is no lesser of two evils.
It’s time to Nerd out for a moment. Almond flour contains a high amount of Omega 6 fatty acids. These are the not so good fatty acids, their good friend Omega 3 fatty acids are amazing and much needed (see fish oil). Although true we need some Omega 6 fats the balance of Omega 3 to Omega 6 should be relatively equal. When we flood our system with Omega 6 fats it disrupts the anti-inflammatory properties of the Omega 3’s. We tend to overindulge on these paleo treats because we think we desperately “need” them. This can lead to chronic inflammation in the body which then can lead to reduced recovery, soreness, feeling tired and at the worst end several diseases, even cancers.*
We’re not saying you can’t ever paleo-fy your favorite foods, it just should not be a staple in your everyday routine. We really want you to get the psychological as well as physical benefits of the food you eat. Keep it simple, eat real food, give you body and brain a chance to make the changes to healthy foods and the benefits will be worth it.
This last lifting cycle has been intense hasn’t it? You’ve been crushing PR’s and making sweat angles that make even a jacked unicorn jealous. Now it’s time to talk about giving your body some much needed love for all the awesomeness it did. It’s time to talk about recovery and what that means. The biggest factor in recovery is post workout nutrition. That’s what we are going to spend our time on today. You’ve probably seen Coach Shoe and I sipping on some concoction in a shaker bottle right after workouts but what’s all the hype?
After a workout your glycogen (carbohydrate) stores are depleted and your muscles are broken down from crushing that last set of back squats. We need to replenish these as fast as we can for…those gainz! Your post workout nutrition plan should be as important as getting your first pull-up or handstand. So let’s break it down into 3 stages…
Stage 1: Immediately After the WOD (within 30 Minutes)
Protein will help rebuild all the muscle tissue you just destroyed hitting your snatch PR. Whole foods are ideal but it can be hard to eat chicken right after a workout. A post workout protein shake is equally as good and can absorb into your system faster than whole food. Whey protein is the easiest to digest and usually is the easiest on the belly. Protein shakes aren’t just for Bro’s, ladies you need them too.
Carbohydrates are also a must. You used up your last bit of carbs during the AMRAP and must replace them to decrease muscle soreness and keep crushing your day. Use quick digesting carbs like fruit, fruit juice or potatoes. Bananas are a great choice as they pack a lot of great nutrients.
Fat is best left out at this time as it slows protein uptake and delays those gainz.
Hydration is huge at this time. We probably don’t drink enough water so get to sipping, coconut water is a great recovery drink as well.
Stage 2: 2-6 hours post WOD crushing
This is usually the time to get some whole foods in. You want a 2:1 carbohydrate protein ratio. Use simple clean foods for a nice post workout meal.
Stage 3: Beyond 6 hoursNow is the time we want to maintain blood sugar and eat a balanced meal with protein, carbs and fat. Choose good for you fats like nut butters, avocados, coconut oil. If possible choose higher quality proteins, such as grass fed beef. And of course you want healthy carbs vs empty heavily processed ones, such as sweet potatoes.
These are some very general recommendations to get you ready to crush a workout the next day. The most important of these being the 30 minutes directly after your workout. Protein and carbs are key to keeping your body healthy and ready to attack the next days WOD. With optimal recovery you can workout harder, which will lead to quicker results i.e. becoming a jacked unicorn.
Thanks for visiting the nerdry if you ever have any questions come ask Coach Shoe or myself!
Ready to take your training to the next level? Whether that’s competitions or maybe adding one more day a week to the regimen, let’s talk about adding Fish Oil. For both athletes and non-athletes fish oil has so many huge benefits. It contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic (EHA) which keep you brain and nervous system functioning like a well-oiled machine.
DHA & EHA also keep the bad fats from floating around in your circulatory system. In addition fish oil will help improve the health of your skin and eyes, increase your mood and concentration. Our bodies produce very little DHA and no EPA so it is imperative to get these fatty acids from an outside source.
For the CrossFit community fish oil has a greater benefit and that is it’s anti-inflammatory properties. Fish oil helps combat inflammation in the body which can accumulate causing arthritis, chronic pain and is linked to several auto immune issues. Pushing your body to new levels in the gym can add stress to the body. A good healthy diet will decrease this stress to a point but adding fish oil to your diet will drastically reduce the amount of stress on the body. This will allow you to recover faster and reduce the soreness you feel after workouts.
Not all fish oils are created equally and you need to be careful about which brand you chose. Many brands contain contaminates such as mercury and PCBs depending on where the fish were raised. Look for a product that has been through molecular distillation. Do your research before purchasing to make sure you get the highest quality products.
We will be doing a pre-order for some fish oil in August from our favorite brands, to help you keep on the gain train. We’ll have some for samples coming soon. This will allow you try each product and decide for yourself. I have tried both and no fish burps I promise. Start adding this to your training regimen and reduce soreness, greater recovery and who knows maybe better skin and hair.