Nutrition Resources and Summary

It’s a good time to review our nutrition recommendations, especially for our on-ramp members. I’m not a nutritionist, but these principles work for me and many of our members. Do your own research and then decide what you want to eat.  Basic CrossFit nutrition recommendations can be summarized in the following:

Eat meat, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar.

Sounds simple, right?  While we all tinker with the quality and quantity of the food we eat, we’d like people to be eating as close to a paleo or primal diet as possible.  This means minimally processed whole/raw foods.  We like our athletes to eat a lot of veggies when compared to the quantity of meat (probably 2/3rd to 3/4th of the meal quantity).  CrossFit athletes get very good results on these diets (EXCELLENT READ: Ben’s Nutrition for Health and Performance Article) and sometimes by controlling macronutrient intake in measured quantities (EXCELLENT READ: Jon’s Zone Diet Article).  By good results we mean: maximizing human athletic potential, minimizing inflammation, maintaining consistent energy levels, developing lean body mass, and feeling good about ourselves. Note: sugar, grains, legumes, dairy are all out of a strict paleo diet, so you need to figure out how your body reacts to these things. We will be doing a paleo challenge in a week or so if you’d like to participate.

Food as Fuel

Have you ever put the diesel gas in an unleaded engine (video)?  Sure, it “works” in the short term, but it isn’t ideal and in the long term that engine will fail.  People have a really hard time connecting what happens in the short term, in this case eating high-carb and highly processed diets, with the long term health problems.  We know sugars are a poison, “obesity” is a global epidemic and pretty much every disease is on the rise.  Do we make the connection between a sedentary lifestyle, an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise? We do, but that hasn’t changed prevalence of all these things.  Think about food as a fuel. Do you feed it with humanely raised animals and local veggies or do you feed it with a highly processed sandwich of cold cuts, inflammatory grains and high sugar content dressing. It’s your life, you decide.


Supplements aren’t necessarily part of a paleo/primal diet, but given the shortcomings of modern food production certain supplements make a difference. Here’s what we suggest you consider after your own research:

Post-Workout Nutrition

For optimal recovery, eat a good amount of your daily carbs within 30 minutes post-workout.  Consume balanced protein and fat meal within 2 hours.

If you are eating clean or want to eat clean, let us know what you are eating and the questions you have in the comments.

Some great resources:

30 thoughts on “Nutrition Resources and Summary

  1. I eat very close to primal nutrition (paleo +milk products +more animal fat). I try to eat humanely raised, grass-fed, animal meats and fats as much as possible. I eat a lot of fat, minimize carbs and eat eggs all the time. I always eat an apple or a protein shake within 30 minutes of my workout. I eat about 3 to 4 cheat meals per week, beer included. I don’t keep any sweets in the house other than some dark chocolate chips which I sample every now and then. I love sweet potatoes and consume them for dinner 2 to 3 times per week.

    I supplement with 5 grams of fish oil per day, a multi-vitamin, vitamin d and green tea extract. I’ve just started experimenting with Glucosamine.

    I will note that when I switched to strict paleo I had a huge jump in my personal performance and recovery times. My strength increases weren’t as dramatic, but metcons did get much better.

  2. I’m currently trying to get back into eating this way. Recently, a lot of grains and chocolate have crept back into my diet (the holidays make it hard to deny yourself anything).

    I’ve cut way, way back on the amount of sugar I consume since this summer and I have noticed a big difference in how I feel when I’m hungry. Previously, being hungry was completely intolerable and I would be fuzzy-headed. The quickest fix was usually a can of soda or some vending machine candy. After cutting out sugar (there were several rough days), I found that I’m no longer so susceptible to feeling like crap between lunch and dinner. I can’t really speak to changes in my athletic performance since I changed my eating habits shortly after starting Crossfit – too many variables for a good experiment.

    In the past, I’d have cereal with skim milk for breakfast, pizza from the hospital cafeteria for lunch, a popsicle as a snack, and a carb-heavy dinner. Now, I have eggs or greek yogurt with fruit in the morning (haven’t seen the need to cut out dairy), a big salad with chicken or steak in it for lunch, and dinners have more vegetables and less rice/pasta. I eat a lot of nuts to snack on.

    One thing I do struggle with a lot is consuming enough calories. I’m just not a big eater and have a bad habit of putting off meals when I’m interested in doing other things. Ideally, I want to gain a few pounds, and that is definitely not happening even with the new addition of whole milk to my diet. Any tips would be appreciated.

    One of my favorite lunches is now tuna mashed up with an avocado.

    1. Lydia — Gaining weight can be tough, especially if you’re eating strict “paleo”.

      A few recommendations:
      – Don’t eat strict paleo.
      – Eat LOTS of fat (this is important for all CrossFitters, but particularly important for people who are worried about maintaining existing muscle mass)
      – Drink as much whole milk as your body will tolerate.
      – Don’t be afraid to eat some oatmeal and potatoes (or other relatively benign starches); these will help you to get the carbs that you need without feeling too full. If you eat too many salads, you’ll never be able to cram down enough calories to support growth.
      – BIG post-training meal. E.g., if your normal meal size is 3 blocks, try eating a 6 block meal after you train. Eating more concentrated carbs in the post WOD meal will help you to cram down the necessary calories while taking full advantage of heightened insulin sensitivity. You may also want to try to put extra carbs in the post workout meal, e.g. 6 blocks protein, 10 blocks carbs, 30 blocks fat (that’s 5 times the normal zone allotment for fat)

      Caveat: Gaining weight inevitably means gaining some body-fat. In the short term, you need to be willing to accept some aesthetically unpleasing results in order to see positive gains in the mid to long term.

      If you want an example of a systematic, controlled approach to weight gain, check out my blog: “Ben and Forney Get Fat”. There’s a link to the blog in the “friends” section of this site.

    2. re: hunger

      I used to have the same problem feeling hungry (when I was hungry, I had to eat, couldn’t function unless I did). I would get extremely dizzy and lightheaded if I didn’t eat something every couple of hours. Since reducing sugar from my diet, I haven’t had that problem in months (and it used to happen all the time).

  3. Can you tell us more about what the Paleo challenge encompasses?

    1. when i figure it out, i will. i think we’re all gonna try to eat strict paleo for 30 days and see how we feel. it will be an optional component of a new performance challenge.

      1. by ‘strict Paleo’ does that mean no dairy?

      2. strict paleo is no dairy.

      3. 🙁 That means no yogurt, and that means a rough 30 days. When will this be starting exactly? (I assume “strict paleo” also means no cheat meals, too.)

  4. If people are looking for more Paleo recipe ideas, here’s a nice recipe book link

  5. Elizabeth that is a GREAT resource!

    G and I started a paleo challange on 12/28 (post christmas craziness). I am excited to see the box doing it soon. We had started transitioning our diet back in November first to Zone blocks so still some grains, etc and then more paleo in early December. I will speak to my personal experience and say that I love this new way of eating-for the challange I am doing paleo plus a little half and half in my am coffee but no other dairy. In terms of the good results from above (maximizing human athletic potential, minimizing inflammation, maintaining consistent energy levels, developing lean body mass, and feeling good about ourselves) these are the exact reasons for my transition to this and hopefully what will become a lifestyle.

    I really like that my energy levels remain much more consistent throughout the day and while it is early I am hopeful that my althletic performance and development of lean muscle mass will both get better over time. I have also really struggled the past years with MULTIPLE colds. I never got colds and then the past two years I have had like 5-6 a year. I was also doing alot of endurance stuff (long distance running, endless cardio, etc and of course eating lots of carbs). This was seriously driving me crazy and after reading ‘The Paleo Diet’ and ‘Primal Blue Print’ and multiple other web resources I was very excited to see some of the immuno benefits of this type of eatings. I have now been cold free since July barring the mildly scratchy throat I just got last night but I am blaming that on way too much Tequila on New Years Eve 🙂

  6. Ok, count me in. But I’m not promising I won’t complain about having my milk and my peanut butter oatmeal taken away. Although, I will try to whine quietly.

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