CrossFit has become one of the most effective, efficient, and heart-pumping workouts. If you need a workout for torching calories, CrossFit is the way to go. Truth be told, CrossFit is at the top of the list for paths to fitness prowess. However, as with many other high-intensity workouts, you need the proper diet plan. And the good news is that the CrossFit diet plan allows for versatility and options.
Given the intensity of the workout and the exercises, the most important aspect of your CrossFit diet plan is protein. You need lots of it to stabilize blood sugar and get energy for your workout regime. The math says that an average 120-lb woman needs 60g of protein per day, while a 200-lb man needs 100g of protein per day. That’s only for CrossFit practitioners. Beyond the protein rule, there are many other foods you need to consume, and even more to avoid. Today, we will break down everything you need to know for your diet plan.
Paleo vs. Zone vs. Primal diet
As I mentioned previously, CrossFit allows for versatility. There are three diets you can choose from. To understand each one, I will provide you with a short summary.
For example, the Paleo diet is all about lean meat, fish, some fruit, tree nuts (no peanuts allowed), veggies, seeds, and absolutely no sugar. That means that when you follow the Paleo diet, you must avoid grains, legumes, dairy, corn, and white potatoes. Truth be told, those are usually foods people are allergic to or have challenges digesting. White potatoes turn into sugar, and the same applies for corn.
This is the diet most CrossFit trainers and experts recommend. Yes, this CrossFit diet plan is more rigid and strict: the plan includes measuring, planning, and weighing every meal and snack. You must plan your meals ahead of time. However, for an individual who is organized and wants to pay attention to every detail, the Zone diet is the best. Zone allows grains, but some people opt for a mix of Paleo and Zone, which means no grains at all.
The best way to describe the primal diet is this: “Paleo + dairy.” Primal is very similar to Paleo, allowing all foods from Paleo, and it includes dairy as well. But not all dairy: you can consume cream, Greek yogurt, some cheese, and butter. The trick is to not go overboard.
How to shop on a budget?
Given that no matter which CrossFit diet plan you choose, there are a lot of pricey ingredients, I want to help you shop on a budget. I realize that you have to make a change that will cost you more money. Now, organic and grass-fed products are always the recommendation, but sometimes, they’re not affordable. Here are some tips.
- Look for good, low-cost fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s market. You’ll find a lot of organic and non-organic farmers who will give you a good price for the products.
- Buy meat in bulk if you can freeze it. Consider purchasing meat through a local farmer. Divide the meat into portions and freeze.
- Shop at Wal-Mart and similar stores where you can find good prices on many products. And buy seeds and nuts in bulk.
Best foods for CrossFit
As I mentioned at the beginning, there are foods you need to consume, and there are foods you need to avoid if you are to be successful in your CrossFit diet plan. Let’s look at the foods you need to consume first.
Since you need to keep your protein intake high, lentils are a natural fit. They add 9g of protein per cup to your meal. You can add lentils to almost any meal of the day, and you’ll get tons of fiber as well.
Banana and whey protein smoothie
If you are looking for the perfect post-workout meal, this is it. You’ll get all the ingredients needed for your body to recover, as well as to replenish everything you lost. Your body needs fast-absorbing carbs and protein after a workout, and you get exactly that.
Yes, coconut oil is a staple in the beauty industry for shiny hair and smooth skin. But add it to your cooking as well. Coconut is the perfect for fuel for workouts. Our body absorbs coconut oil easily, quickly converting it into energy.
Nuts and seeds
I said at the beginning that the Paleo and Zone diets command a lot of nuts and seeds (you just need to avoid peanuts). Both nuts and seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids and a fairly good amount of protein. Think of nuts and seeds as the great go-to snack or an extra to your smoothies.
Since white potatoes are banned, you need some other form of potatoes. Enter sweet potatoes. One of the most underrated veggies is loaded with vitamin A and vitamin B. But most importantly, sweet potatoes give your body complex carbs that you can slowly digest and transform into energy throughout the day.
You just cannot start any workout diet plan without eggs. They are the best and easiest way to get good fats, protein, and vitamin B. In the world of CrossFit, eggs are a superfood. Start your day with a couple of eggs to get your protein intake.
White rice is refined, making it low on nutrients. Brown rice, on the other hand, is nutrient-dense, and our body digests it way easier. Unlike white rice, brown doesn’t cause bloating and spikes in our blood sugar levels.
Eggs are one great way to start the day, and oatmeal is the second best. A stellar breakfast option, oatmeal is versatile. You can add fruit like berries or a banana, or some nuts to make it even more nutrient-dense. You can consume oatmeal before and after a workout to replenish the carbs your body needs, without any sugar.
Foods to avoid
Pre-workout raw veggies
Before you start your workout, avoid veggies that cause gastrointestinal discomfort. This includes veggies that are usually consumed raw, like lettuce, cabbage, and broccoli. They are healthy and high in fiber, but they are not recommended for pre-workout meals.
It’s obvious, but high-sugar carbs will cause a spike in your blood sugar and prevent you from losing weight and gaining muscle. Even when you get them from a natural source, avoid high-sugar carbs like bread, potatoes, and white rice. You still need carbs, but source them from whole grains.
Another no-no in the world of CrossFit. And let’s be real, you definitely do not need a lengthy explanation as to why fried foods are bad for your health. The simplest explanation is that fried foods are nutritionally void and rich in trans fats that deplete energy levels. You’ll feel sluggish instead of energetic, and you won’t be able to finish your workout.
If you are looking for a high-calorie drink, that’s any alcohol, which is why alcohol is on the list of foods you need to avoid in your CrossFit diet plan. Nothing will slow you down like alcohol.
Fried foods and processed foods are in the same category. Crackers, granola bars, and pastries are a big no-no. Loaded with sugar, processed foods will increase your waistline and make your CrossFit workout virtually impossible to finish.
This is probably the most tempting option. Yogurt is a great snack, but flavored yogurt doesn’t help you with muscle building. Despite the protein, flavored yogurt is something you should avoid. The reason is simple: flavored yogurt is rich in sugar and sodium. You’ll feel tired and bloated afterward.
I strongly believe that the Zone diet is the best CrossFit diet plan. But it’s also one of the most complex and hard to follow. Which is why I want to explain how blocks work. Here is an example:
- 7g of protein = 1 block of protein
- 9g of carbs = 1 block of carbs
- 1.5g of fat = 1 block of fat
A 1-block meal means you need to choose one item from each block. That means 1 block protein, 1 block carbs, and 1 block fat. Or you can choose 2 blocks for a 2-block meal. The common choice is a 4-block meal, which is the standard for people who train CrossFit. A sample 4-block meal would be a 4oz chicken breast, 1 artichoke, 1 cup of steamed vegetables, 1 sliced apple, and 24 crushed nuts. This meal contains 28g of protein, 36g of carbs, and 12g of fat. Here is a table showing how many blocks you need based on your gender and activity.
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