Holiday Schedule Reminders
TOMORROW 12/31 (New Year’s Eve)
On: 6, 7,8, 10, 12p, 430p, 530p, 630p
Canceled: 730p, 830p
THUR 1/1 (New Year’s Day)
On: 10a, 11a*, 12p, 430p, 530p, 630p, 730p, 830p
Using CrossFit for Weight Loss
By Chris Fox
CrossFit can absolutely be the only physical activity you engage in as a means to the goal of losing unwanted body fat. At CFSBK we program each class to include a warm up, strength training, and a conditioning piece. The warm up gets you ready to train. Strength training builds lean body mass, which includes building stronger muscles and bones. High intensity conditioning work complements your fitness beyond simply being stronger, increasing your work capacity. Strength training and (relatively) high intensity conditioning training stoke your metabolism both during and after your training is over. It is not necessary, and can perhaps be harmful, to add an excess of “cardio” (i.e. low intensity conditioning work) to your training. The type of stress induced by chronic cardio (especially in the absence of strength training and good nutrition) elevates cortisol levels which break down lean muscle and halt protein synthesis. This in turn can make losing unwanted fat tougher than it needs to be, if not impossible. More important than the volume of conditioning work is what and how much you eat. In fact it’s probably more than half of the equation.
What and how much do you need to eat? If you’re struggling with weight then intermittent fasting is not the answer, and neither is bulletproof coffee, or eating strictly low carb. You don’t need a fancy new high hype diet. If your goal is to be healthy and lean then you simply need to start by eating balanced meals made up of primarily quality foods in appropriate amounts, spread throughout the day.
First prioritize protein. The USDA claims that women need 46 grams per day and that men need 56 grams. This is utterly insane. Those amounts are surely enough for sedentary people with no body composition or performance related ambition to simply exist, but they are not enough for you. Aim for about a gram of quality protein per pound of lean body mass each day, spread throughout the day. This is a pretty standard and accepted guideline in the strength and conditioning world. You’re training like an athlete so you should eat like one. As a rule, don’t just crush a 48 oz porterhouse and call it a night. Your body would rather digest smaller amounts at a time of protein at a time. What do we mean by quality protein? Eat clean animal foods like eggs, poultry, pork, beef, fish, game, etc from the best sources available to you. If you’re a *vegetarian you should consider upping your overall intake. Your body has a harder time assimilating vegetable based protein so it may be prudent to overdo it a bit.
As a CrossFitter, your meals should be relatively balanced, meaning you should be getting calories from protein, carbs, and fat. If you try and workout while cutting carbs to a minimum you’ll notice after a week or two that your performance declines, aka THE DREADED LOW-CARB FLU. CrossFit requires glucose. If you don’t consume it, your cortisol levels will elevate in response to the increased stress of training in a carb depleted state and you’ll maintain or gain fat.You need some carbs to perform and recover. We’d maintain that getting your carbs from gluten-free sources is better, and that leaves a ton of options. Potatoes (sweet and white), beans and legumes, rice, fruit, corn tortillas, and of course, veggies. How many carbs? The same prescription as your protein (about 1 gram per pound of lean bodyweight) is on the low side and a good place to start for weight loss. (If you’re primarily a strength athlete then you do not need as many carbs and that 1 gram per pound may be plenty. You’ll need plenty of protein, some carbs, and a bit more fat). After a few weeks there you need to gauge your recovery. If you’re feeling frazzled, not sleeping well, and not recovering, consider upping carbohydrates a bit at a time until you feel better. Last is fat. Eat enough to feel satisfied. You want a number, I know. Aim for about one half gram per pound of lean body weight. If you’re on the higher end of the carbohydrate spectrum then you’ll need fewer calories from fat. If you’re on the lower end then you’ll need more. Have some quality fat at each meal. Animal fat (*from pastured animals. If you’re eating conventionally raised animal food then opt for leaner cuts and add some vegetable fat. Avocados, macadamia, coconut, and olive oil should be the primary sources. Nuts and seeds can also be used for a variety and seasoning. Spread your meals out a bit, maybe as many as 3-5 times a day depending on your schedule and hunger levels. There are plenty of resources out there to help you get an idea of how many grams of what are in what but I like the free version of FitDay.
CrossFit combined with proper nutrition and recovery can help you become fit and lean. Hard work and proper refueling and recovery are opposite sides of the same coin. The strength training and conditioning you perform at CFSBK can be all the training you need, especially if you’re a five days a week person. If you’re coming 2-3 days a week then add in some activity on your days away from us. Interval training is very effective and takes little time. Bodyweight circuits, kettlebell intervals, erg sprints, bike sprints, track work, there are plenty of options. Keep the work on the short side and keep the intensity up.
So, the K.I.S.S. rule is the place to start with body composition changes. It doesn’t have to be (and probably shouldn’t be) whatever the next fad diet is. Basic nutritional principles put into consistent practice may very well be all you need to reach your goals.
*I personally have run the gamut from being a chubby, sugar addicted adolescent to a skinny, yoga-addicted vegetarian/vegan as a young adult, to the version of myself I have been for the past 15 years or so. I am by no means going to make the cover of any magazine that has SIX PACK ABS on it and neither am I going to the CrossFit Games anytime soon, but I have been able to steadily increase my strength and fitness over the years while controlling my body fat, both to respectable levels. The single most important aspect of my diet that has changed has been moving from first a sugar/processed food diet and then a vegetable-based diet, to one that includes animal products as sources of protein and fat. The balance that it has brought me has been incredible. I stopped craving foods all the time, started adding muscle to my frame and recovering much better. Aches and pains diminished. I’m sick far less frequently and I’m more resilient overall. I was a moral vegetarian/vegan for years and firmly believed in the health aspects of avoiding meat for a long time so I understand the mental and emotional battles of considering eating meat again. My best advice is to simply consider that adding some ethically raised animal food to your diet may be of benefit to you. Self-experimentation is a must.
Are you doing the 2015 Look Feel Perform Better Challenge? If you missed the Kick-Off and Q&A Meeting on Sunday, learn more here. We’re starting everything on Saturday, January 3, and the deadline to complete all the sign-up steps is Monday, January 5th.