The Trouble With 'Diet'

I put the word 'diet' in quotation marks as the word can often take on different meanings. I like to think of your diet as everything you eat and drink over a long period of time, not something that you follow temporarily. If you have a good diet you will be successful with what you want to achieve from it. If you 'go on a diet' you are doomed to failure in the long run. What you consume on a daily basis must be practical and sustainable long term if you are to succeed in your health and fitness goals, not a short term measure or quick fix. Going on a 1000kcal a day diet may well help you temporarily lose some weight (though probably not body fat), but it will certainly not promote health and is too restrictive to be maintained long term, resulting in ultimate failure. These type of fad diets should always be avoided.

 

As mentioned above we are all individual. As well as responding differently to foods we also have different needs and goals, therefore I will never recommend a one size fits all diet. I am not Paleo, Atkins, Zone or any other of a long list of named diets. Though all of these have their own positive attributes, I would by no means blanketly recommend any of them to someone without first finding out more about the individual. Three important questions to answer are:

  1. What are your goals?
  2. How much and what type of training are you doing?
  3. What is your current body fat percentage?

These are all things that will affect someone's dietary requirements. What I can do is set out certain guidelines and recommendations that will go a long way to helping you create a diet that gives you the results you are after. A good place to start is the CrossFit recommendation of 'Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat'.

 

Dietary Recommendations

Eat real food

By far and away the most important piece of dietary advice i could give to anyone regardless of their goals is to eat real food. For 95% of people, simply following this rule will give rise to noticeable improvements in health, appearance and energy levels. By real food I mean anything that occurs naturally, and, in general, the closer to its original state the better. This does not necessarily mean a 'raw diet' but avoid overly processed foods and anything with additives or hydrogenated fats. Where possible and if money allows eat produce that has been reared in its natural environment. I.e. organic everything, free-range poultry, pastured dairy, grass-fed beef and lamb, wild caught fish.

 

Excellent Food choices include:

  • Meat, Seafood, Game, Fowl, Fish, Eggs, Offal
  • Vegetables, Tubers, Bulbs, Roots, Leaves, Herbs, Spices
  • Animal Fats, Coconut (in any form), Avocado, Olives, Olive Oil

 

Other good food choices that should be limited in quantity include:

  • Fruit, Nuts, Seeds
  • Milk, Cheese, Yoghurt
  • Rice, Quinoa, Oats

 

Foods to avoid include:

  • Cakes, Crisps, Biscuits, Breakfast Cereals (including Special K!)
  • Anything containing modified vegetable fats
  • Wheat, Rye and Barley (gluten containing) products
  • Greggs

 

Sensible Indulgences:

  • Dark Chocolate, Moderate Alcohol

 

Cycle your carbohydrate consumption

This is extremely important for overall health and especially if you're trying to reduce your levels of body fat. Carbohydrate consumption causes an increase in blood sugar levels and a subsequent insulin response within the body. This is a natural process to create homeostasis and allow us to function properly. However, elevated insulin levels created by excessive carbohydrate consumption can be problematic and are the main cause of body fat accumulation. Persistently elevated levels of blood sugar create permanently high amounts of insulin production, which can lead to insulin resistance and a host of other metabolic diseases that come with it including obesity, diabetes, heart disease and many more. 

 

As a rule, your carbohydrate consumption should be based around the timings and intensity of your training. Limit your consumption of starchy carbs (sweet potatoes/potatoes/quinoa/rice/oats - preferentially in that order) to immediately post workout (within 2 hours of training, and the sooner the better). For nutrition that is not post-workout, get any further carbohydrate consumption predominantly from vegetables and to a lesser extent fruit. Other carbohydrate sources such as dairy products should only be consumed in any significant amount by those with already low levels of body fat or individuals looking to put on size.

 

Don't be afraid of fats

Fats are one of the vital nutrients of the body required for energy, promoting healthy cell function, and absorbing and transporting vitamins. It is a common misconception that our dietary fat levels are the main determinant of our levels of stored body fat. This is simply not the case; indeed increases in fat consumption can lead to improved metabolism and it is excessive and poorly timed carbohydrate consumption that is the main culprit when it comes to increased body fat. We do however have to make sure we're eating the right kind of fat. It's not simply a matter of saturated fat is bad, unsaturated fat is good. There are good and bad forms of both saturated and unsaturated fat and we need a good mix of both - it is the source of these fats that we should be most concerned with.

 

Stick to natural forms of fat in your diet including animal fats (red meat, oily fish, lard, butter), avocados, coconuts (oil for cooking, water for drinking, meat for eating), olives, olive oil and limited nuts, seeds, and pastured, full fat dairy. Avoid unnatural trans fats like the plague!

 

Supplement with high quality omega-3 fish oils and vitamin D3

There are thousands of nutritional supplements on the market, each having their own specific effect on the body (this is looked at in more detail later) but omega-3s and vitamin D3 are the two that are consistently lacking in most peoples' diets and are proven to provide a wide array of positive health benefits - benefits of omega-3s,benefits of vitamin D3.

 

Your omega-3 supplements should come from fish oils as oppose to plant based sources and you should be looking for a high total EPA and DHA content. Be aware of cheaper brands containing a high quantity of omega-3 but low amounts of the good stuff, EPA and DHA. I recommend Pure Pharma Omega-3 Ultra Pure Fish Oil capsules, which provide over 1.8 grams of total EPA and DHA a day at a reasonable cost.

 

Vitamin D3 is synthesized by our body in response to exposure to sunlight (specifically UV-B rays), however for most people, especially in the UK, adequate levels of sun exposure to provide optimal vitamin D synthesis are not possible, hence why supplementation is important. Around 5000iu a day will be a good amount for most. 

 

Don't habitually eat less than your BMR in a day

Your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) is an estimate of the amount of calories your body will burn in a day in a completely rested state. You can calculate your BMR using the Harris-Benedict Formula here. The equation does not account for lean body mass but is a fairly accurate measure for all but the extremely muscular. Please note, there may be caveats to this rule such as when using intermittent fasting (which can provide excellent benefits when used correctly), but in general this is a good rule to live by to avoid undoing all the benefits from your hard training.

 

Experiment

As individuals we have all evolved differently and we all react to the food we consume in different ways. As well as enjoying the food we eat we also ideally want it to provide a beneficial function to our body, or at worst, not create any negative effects. If you find you get ill or run down on a regular basis then experimenting with what is included or left out of your diet can be massively important. There are certain foods or compounds within the foods that we eat which our bodies may not react well to, causing internal stress, inflammation and a host of other problems. The easiest way of finding out which foods are good for us, and which are not, is to experiment. By taking certain food groups, or foods containing particular compounds, out of our diet and then reintroducing them we can gauge how our body reacts to them. You can try this with any food but the main culprits that often cause problems are detailed below.

  • Gluten -A protein composite found predominantly in foods processed from wheat, barley and rye. Many people suffer from aproblematic immune response to gliadin, a glycoprotein contained in gluten. Individual responses can differ greatly from full blown celiac disease to irritable bowel syndrome and many other auto-immune diseases that cause inflammation throughout the body.
  • Dairy - Most dairy products contain a sugar called lactose. In order to digest lactose into simpler sugars our bodies need to produce an enzyme called lactase. While we readily produce lactase at a young age, our ability to produce this enzyme tends to reduce as we get older and in some people ceases completely making us lactose intolerant. While those who are lactose intolerant can manage small amounts of lactose in their diet, as consumption increases they may suffer anything from bloating, cramps, diarrhoea and even vomiting. Try avoiding dairy products such as milk, cheese and ice-cream (butter may be ok due to its high fat, low water content therefore minimal lactose).
  • Alcohol - All well and good in moderation but certainly worth taking out of your diet for a period to see how you feel. I am not promoting teetotalism or being that person who stands quietly in the corner at a social occasion because they want a drink but their diet won't let them! But the after effects of alcohol consumption go beyond the hangover. Feelings of anxiety and mild depression are common in the days following a drinking session and any attempts at weight loss can be severely hindered by a night on the booze.
  • Legumes - These are dry fruits that develop inside a pod such as peas, beans, lentils, peanuts and soy amongst others. The one thing that they all have in common is they contain lectins. Lectins are a sugar binding protein that can cause an increase in intestinal permeability and trigger an auto-immune response in certain individuals. This can lead to increased inflammation and an impaired immune system.

When experimenting I would recommend only eliminating one thing at a time. Remove the food from your diet for 2-4 weeks before consuming it again. That way if you discover a problem when the food is reintroduced you can pinpoint exactly what it is that is causing the issues. If you are allergic, intolerant or something simply doesn't react well with you, when you remove that item from your diet you can expect to see benefits ranging from an improved immune system, reductions in fatigue, improved bowel function, less illness, improved mental state and generally feeling healthier.

Monday

CrossFit Class6:30am-7:30am

CrossFit Class 12pm-1pm

Open Gym 1pm-6pm
CrossFit Class 5:30pm-6:30pm
CrossFit Class 6:30pm-7:30pm

CrossFit Beginners 7:30-8:30pm

 

Tuesday

CrossFit Class6:30am-7:30am

CrossFit Class 12pm-1pm

Open Gym 1pm-6pm
CrossFit Class 5:30pm-6:30pm
CrossFit Class 6:30pm-7:30pm

CrossFit Beginners 7:30-8:30pm

               
Wednesday

CrossFit Class 6:30am-7:30am 

CrossFit Class 12pm-1pm

Open Gym  1pm-6pm

CrossFit Circuit 6pm-7pm

CrossFit Circuit  7pm-8pm

 

 

Thursday

CrossFit Class6:30am-7:30am

CrossFit Class 12pm-1pm

Open Gym 1pm-6pm
CrossFit Endurance 5:30pm-6:30pm
CrossFit Class 6:30pm-7:30pm

CrossFit Beginners 7:30-8:30pm



Friday

CrossFit Class6:30am-7:30am

CrossFit Class 12pm-1pm

Open Gym 1pm-6pm
CrossFit Class 5:30pm-6:30pm
CrossFit Class 6:30pm-7:30pm

 

Saturday

CrossFit Circuit 10am-11am

Open Gym 11am-1pm



Sunday

Open Gym 11am-1pm

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