Sometimes the universe gives you a big serendipitous gift… in the form of an Instagram post.
I just spent the weekend working at the Crossfit Free/Vagabond Crossfit “Coaches and Athletes Camp” down in Salem, NH. In addition to Brandon and Kevin running workouts that tested the various energy systems, specialty coaches were brought in to help improve people’s form in the olympic lifts and gymnastics. There were also some specialists involved in injury prevention and trigger point release there to work on the athletes as well.
I was brought in to discuss how to optimize nutrition and other aspects of a lifestyle to improve performance in the gym. I focused much of the discussion on nutrient intake as it related to the timing of the workout. While everyone’s situation is unique, I tried to give some basic guidelines on what and when to eat pre-workout and post-workout with ideas about what carbohydrate and protein sources are best for each period.
Additionally, we talked in depth about the importance of providing fuel throughout the day to support the rigorous life-style of a competitive Crossfit athlete. Over the years, many people in the crossfit community have come to fear any and all processed carbohydrates. While this approach can certainly be beneficial for someone looking to focus on improved HEALTH, it can also be a recipe for disaster for a person looking to train like a pro-athlete. With this in mind, I tried to provide a minimum amount of protein, carbs and fats that both men and women should eat on training days. I think a lot of people were surprised by the sheer amount of food, and especially carbs that I was recommending.
I woke up this morning to see a post from Lauren Fisher showing exactly what she ate on a normal Monday-Friday. FYI, Lauren recently represented the USA at the Junior World Weightlifting Championship AND finished 9th at the Crossfit Games a few weeks back as well. She is 5’5” inches and 135 lbs of bad-ass performance.
The timing of her post was PERFECT, as this is almost exactly what I was telling people how to eat at the Camp, both post workout and through the rest of the day. Here are the key points that I would stress in Lauren’s post:
1) She starts off her day with a large breakfast with a ton of healthy protein, fats and plenty of carbs.
2) Post workout she’s immediately taking in protein and carbs with little to no fats… Perfect.
3) She’s not afraid of using some dense carbohydrate sources like white rice and oats to increase her total caloric intake.
4) Monday-Friday she’s still avoiding REALLY processed foods, but on weekends she lets loose a little bit to enjoy some sweets (which probably also acts as a huge carb reload… another good habit to develop for an athlete). This helps her stay sane and keep her training and lifestyle fun and not too stressful.
5) Whether she knows it or not, the tea she’s drinking has some great adaptogens which help her to ramp up in the morning and chill out at night.
When I tell people, especially women, that a diet like the one described above is the starting point for a performance athlete they tend to get a little nervous about excessive weight gain because of all the calories and carbohydrates. Take a look at Lauren though… Again, she’s listed at 5’5” and she has to weigh less than 138 pounds seeing as she’s a 63 kg Olympic weightlifter (she lists herself at 135). More importantly though, she defines herself by her performance in the gym as that is what is most important to her. Check out this video to hear it for yourself. At the end of the day, you should do what makes you happy. If that means trying to become as strong and fit as you possibly can, that’s fantastic… just be sure that you’re fueling yourself for success.
Quick Note: Everyone, even games athletes, are slightly different and will run optimally at various levels of food intake and macronutrient balance. This post is not designed to convince everyone to eat just like Lauren, but instead to take look at your diet and analyze whether you could be handicapping your performance by not eating enough!