The food you eat determines how successful your workout will be at a CrossFit Gym. In other words, a proper diet is a foundation for success.
But the diet isn’t a regular diet. It has to be balanced. Many CrossFitters, especially those who are just starting out, like to think that they’ll succeed by eliminating specific foods while increasing the intake of others.
This isn’t completely true. What you ought to be doing is incorporating a variety of foods that will make your diet balanced.
In this article, you’ll learn what a balanced diet is, why it’s important for CrossFit training, and how you can create one for yourself.
What is a Balanced Diet and Why it’s Important for CrossFit?
A balanced diet is a type of diet where the focus is on incorporating different types of food items to complete the daily requirement of all the components like calories, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. So no particular component is suppressed.
A balanced diet is in contrast to other types of restrictive diets where one or multiple components are suppressed.
For example, on a Keto diet, the focus is on reducing the intake of carbs. On a vegan diet, you’re barred from consuming any animal products.
But there are very little to no limitations to a balanced diet. The goal here is to fulfill all the daily dietary requirements.
Is a balanced diet necessary for CrossFit athletes?
The answer is “Yes.” You do need to follow a balanced diet to achieve your goals at CrossFit. And the reason is because of the intrinsic nature of the CrossFit brand.
If you go by the company’s marketing tagline, then it identifies itself as “Constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.”
And that’s an apt way to describe CrossFit. It’s not a gym, it’s actually a high-intensity functional training mode.
CrossFit workouts or the WODs (Workout Of the Day) are fast-paced and strenuous.
As opposed to the regular gym routine that seldom changes, CrossFit workouts change daily. The training combines gymnastics, weight training, and cardio into one complete session.
Your goal at CrossFit is to undergo the workouts as efficiently as possible. Whereas in a gym, you start with the aim of shedding pounds, bulking up, or preparing for the next marathon.
The diet you follow will depend on the particular aim. For example, you’ll have to cut carbs and calories for shedding weight. You’d be consuming more protein to increase the size of your muscles.
But to succeed at CrossFit’s training mode, you have to adopt a balanced diet that supplies all types of nutrients and macronutrients.
CrossFit has a diet prescription in place, and it encourages you to eat a variety of food items.
What Does a Balanced Diet Look Like?
Now that you know a balanced diet is important for CrossFit, you must be wondering how to get started with it.
While it’s not rocket science, it does call for planning and preparation.
A balanced diet for CrossFit trainers revolves around the following things:
In the subsequent sections, we explore each point in detail.
Calories have a bad rep in the fitness industry because they’re linked to weight gain. The more calorie-dense food you consume, the fatter you get.
So many people look for ways to reduce their calorie intake. While that’s essential, you shouldn’t reduce it down to zero or even to the lowest percentages.
You’d need calories to perform the fast-paced workouts at CrossFit.
The trick here is to balance the calories. If you’re looking to lose weight, then your total calorie intake should be less than the calorie you burn through exercises. That’s the way you lose weight.
If you want to maintain or increase your body weight, then the calorie intake should be more than the burned calories.
To calculate calorie requirements, you can multiply your body weight in pounds to 15. So that’s roughly the calories you need per day if you’re exercising 3-5 days per week.
A balanced diet supplies an adequate amount of macronutrients, which play a crucial role in the overall physique.
The macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. After metabolism, these turn into calories. Thus, proper intake of macronutrients determines whether there will be any change in fat or muscle mass.
The most important macronutrient is perhaps the protein. CrossFit workouts are intense and exhausting. They can take a toll on your muscles.
Your muscles utilize proteins for recovery and cell repairs. Proteins are composed of various types of amino acids. These are required for cell growth and development.
From a diet standpoint, proteins are important because they’re satiating. It keeps you full for a longer time period. This ensures you do not overeat.
As for a rough figure, you’d need 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. And for the Zone Diet recommended by CrossFit, you should obtain 30% of your calories from proteins.
Like calories, carbs to get a bad rep in the fitness industry. It is because they break down easily and release more calories within a short period of time.
But in intense training sessions like those performed at CrossFit, you’d need carbs to fuel your body. Around 40% of your calories should come from carbohydrates.
This would ensure your muscles have access to a quick source of energy as and when required.
The final macronutrient should supply about 30% of the daily calorie intake. They release the most calories but over a longer period of time. Our body needs time to break down fat.
Your balanced diet for macronutrients should look similar to the following;
- 1/3 lean protein – One-third of your plate should consist of lean proteins like fish, lean beef, chicken breast.
- 2/3 carbs – Two-third of your plate should have complex carbs like pasta, whole bread, rice, and non-starchy vegetables
- Monosaturated fat – Adequate amount of olive oil or avocado oil
Just like macronutrients, micronutrients are vital to maintaining a balanced diet. Micronutrients are chemical elements that are both smaller in size and required in smaller quantities.
CrossFit’s diet prescription reads that “Eat meat and vegetables.” it also mentions eating some fruits.
And there’s no better natural source for micronutrients than fruits and vegetables.
You should get the proper amount of vitamin A, B, C D, copper, zinc, selenium on a daily basis.
To achieve this requirement, it’s recommended that you intake vegetables, both cooked and raw, with every meal. Along with that, eat 2-3 fists of fresh fruits each day. This can be apples, oranges, pineapples, bananas, papayas, or anything you prefer.
Fish, cheese, almond, milk, wheat germ also contribute the required micronutrients.
So to your regular diet, you’ve added fruits and vegetables. Your plate should start to see green and leafy.
The final piece of the balanced diet puzzle is a food supplement. These are concentrated sources of nutrients or substances that increase the level of that particular substance when ingested.
They increase the level at a particular point in time and then slowly decrease back to normal.
As opposed to macronutrients and micronutrients, it isn’t necessary to take supplements every day. You can take them on an as-needed basis.
Supplements can be divided into two types: health supplements and nutritional supplements.
Health supplements include multivitamins, vitamin D3, and essential fatty acids. They aid in the overall development of the body. You’d usually take multivitamins if suffering from any vitamin deficiency.
Performance supplements are for increasing or enhancing performance. Creatine monohydrate is a good example of a performance supplement that enhances strength and power within a short period of time. Caffeine is another performance enhancer.
You’d only take supplements when you need them and under the guidance of an expert. But their importance is significant in completing a balanced diet.
Measuring Food Intake
CrossFit provides a framework for you to measure and record intake. And that is through “Block.” A block is defined as a unit of measurement for protein, fat, and carb intake.
- 1 carb block = 9 grams of carbs
- 1 protein block = 7 grams of protein
- 1 fat block = 1.5 grams of fat
How many blocks of macronutrients you’d need per day depends on many factors like age, gender, current health, activity level, among others.
On average, a healthy female would need 11 blocks of every macronutrient. Males would need 14 blocks of every macronutrient to stay in good shape for CrossFit.
Please refer to the Zone Meal food chart more accurate block estimate.
You can now correlate the number of blocks to the food you consume. This should help you balance the carb, protein, and fat intake for a balanced diet.
In between macronutrients, micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals, one thing that always gets left behind is water. You should have a sufficient amount of water throughout the day.
Remember, CrossFit WODs are exhausting. This will drain a significant volume of water from your body. You must compensate for this by drinking water, smoothies, milk, and eating water-rich vegetables.
To Sum up
A balanced diet isn’t something specific to CrossFit fans. Such a diet holds the same level of importance for an average Joe.
But for CrossFit athletes, the demand for a balanced diet is high. The techniques discussed above will help you create a balanced diet chart for yourself. It’d help to get inputs from experts on the same.
With a balanced diet, you’ll see results faster that will also last longer.