AMRAP Nutrition for Crossfit – Is Paleo Pete Optimal?

AMRAP Nutrition for Crossfit – Is Paleo Pete Optimal?

Accurate Macronutrients Result in A-grade Performance!

A guest post by Dean McKillop, Episode 42

All too often I hear of athletes talking about their workout plans, discussing their supplementation protocols and working out the best approach for recovery and performance. "I follow a DUP 3 day split with accessories 2 days a week, I take a pre workout before gym, amino acids during and I down a protein shake 1min and 37 seconds after my workout. I foam roll, I get massages weekly, I use hot/cold baths, I take this product when I wake up and I sleep for 8 hours every night.” Rarely do I hear someone say “I eat 220g of Protein, 400g of carbs, 70g of fat and 30-40g of fibre a day".

So why don't I hear that as much as the others? My guess is not that people don't think nutrition is as important but perhaps people still don't think the accuracy of nutrition is as necessary. "I just eat clean, I eat heaps but I have a fast metabolism, I eat paleo or I follow intermittent fasting" are just a few of the attempted explanations for not 'needing' to count macronutrients (Protein/Fats/Carbohydrates).

The author of this article is far more shredded than you...

The author of this article is far more shredded than you...

My question is: If you don't know what you eat, how are you going to improve how you perform and recover?

Taking that into consideration, why should we care more about Macronutrient numbers and less about what types of food we eat?
Simply put, it's not so much about what type of food you eat, but more so about how much of each Macronutrient you consume. And you know what we generally find in people who follow diet concepts as opposed to Macronutrient guidelines? HUGE Macronutrient discrepancies, with an under consumption of one macronutrient and gross over consumption of another. This then leads to sub optimal performance and sub optimal results.

So what do we know and what do we do with that knowledge?

We know that the first law of thermodynamics supports the notion of calories in versus calories out = body weight homeostasis.


We also know that the second law of thermodynamics delves into how energy is utilised, as opposed to simply looking at the heat it disperses when burned. For example ingesting a protein, despite having the same caloric load as a carbohydrate per gram, will require more energy to be utilised in the breakdown and assimilation process.

But isn’t a calorie a calorie? Well when comparing different macronutrients the answer in my opinion is no. Within human physiology we will not obtain the same physical results on a 2000kcal protein only diet versus a 2000kcal fat only diet. Now while I expect no one to be eating in either of those manors, the point is that both the total calories (The 1st law of thermodynamics) and the Macronutrient breakdown (The 2nd law of thermodynamics) are important.

And therein lies my 'beef' with eating to restrictive dietary concepts, as opposed to eating to Macronutrient numbers.

Let's take a look at Crossfit and Paleo for example:

1) The majority of work done is glycolytic and requires a good portion of carbohydrates to fuel a workout.

2) In the event of a competition day or in the professional ranks, whereby there are multiple workouts done daily, the glycolytic load is even higher.

3) Muscle breakdown as a direct result of high sub maximal load and repetition requires protein for recovery.

You can't fuel this with brazil nuts...

You can't fuel this with brazil nuts...

Therefore the two dominant Macronutrients needed here for repair and performance are Protein and Carboydrates, with Fats being utilised for their health benefits.

Paleo Pete however decides he only wants to follow the diet of his ancestral Homo Sapiens and as a result of this will not eat grains, will minimise or remove dairy, reduce fruit unless from berries, eat a large quantity of meat and a large quantity of fat. He will struggle to eat any significant amount of carbohydrates as the foods he is limited to are much lower in carbs than Poptart Paul's non restrictive diet and even if he was to eat a high carb diet within his Paleo constraints, the amount of fibre consumed alongside his carbohydrate intake will more than likely cause more Gastrointestinal harm than good.

Smashing paleo carbs all day? Likely going to cause more harm than good!

Smashing paleo carbs all day? Likely going to cause more harm than good!

And so that leads us in to two potential scenarios:

  1. Paleo Pete follows his diet to the letter, eats only paleo approved food types and for the majority feels great. Over time his performance energy gets lower (as carbohydrate stores deplete) and psychologically the restriction gets harder and harder. The weekend comes and he binges on sugar, eats a high quantity of processed food, slams down milkshakes and laps up ice cream (ok I'm paraphrasing but you get the point). Momentarily Pete psychologically loves life but then is brought back down to earth with a distended belly, lethargy and a general feeling of glutinous pain. Before you know it Peter is blaming the processed foods for how he is feeling immediately after and come Monday he is back on the paleo bandwagon. Psychologically he feels guilty and the cycle of restriction to binge continues.
    • But what does he notice throughout the week? His performance increases, he recovers faster, works harder and overall feels healthier. Pete will thank Paleo but in reality he is just getting the delayed benefits of a muscle full of glycogen and a brain adequately fuelled from carbohydrates.
  2. Paleo Pete is a Paleo machine and follows the restrictive food list again to the letter but he NEVER breaks diet. His protein and fat intake are high, making him feel full, satisfied and healthy throughout the day but his carbohydrates are low in comparison. Weeks pass and glycogen stores become more depleted, resulting in either a decrease in performance and recovery or even worse metabolic maladaptation due to an inefficient macronutrient breakdown and poor calorie intake in relation to calorie output. Neither is what we want and neither is optimal!

The reality is, no matter what foods you choose to eat, our body has the ability to break it down, assimilate it and use it to the best of its ability. As an ever-evolving organism we should never be made to feel restricted in our choice but instead feel liberated by freedom. Whether you eat paleo, clean, dirty or supercalifragistically, if you want to be optimal you need to know what macronutrients are best for you. Forget the food types, embrace the freedom of choice and eat to be optimal!

Listen to more of Dean in the epic nutrition marathon that was Episode 42.

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Crossfit’s Running Shame

Crossfit’s Running Shame

Guest Article by Tim Bransdon of TheRunningLab, upcoming guest on the The Mind Muscle Project

Along with the air squat, running is the most natural movement in a Crossfit athlete’s arsenal.  So why do so many functional fitness advocates make a beeline for the rower or Airdyne as soon as the word running appears in the WOD?  Or worse yet, why do daily attendances at a box decrease proportionately to the amount of running in the daily WOD?

At what point in our active lives did running become so scary?  

After 13 years treating broken down humans in my podiatry clinic and human performance lab, I have concluded that the answer lies somewhere amongst the destructive coffins (a.k.a. shoes) we have incarcerated our feet in most of our lives and the life-sapping chairs we mould our butts into for the majority of our waking hours.  Modern footwear and sitting are the only reasons I have a job as a podiatrist.

Poor shoe choices from a young age can ruin our running long term. Luckily Forrest Gump was ok.

Poor shoe choices from a young age can ruin our running long term. Luckily Forrest Gump was ok.

The power of marketing and ill directed professional advice find most running advocates relentlessly searching for the magical shoe that will solve and prevent their constant barrage of injuries – 82% of runners get injured every year, nearly all of which is preventable.  Whilst there are many health professionals who love to rag on Crossfit for “causing” injuries, I can assure you I have not witnessed injury rates this high in any box I have been involved with.  At risk of getting too far off topic, if your health professional is of the opinion that Crossfit causes injuries, ask them if they treat more Crossfit athletes than weak, lazy, overweight people?  Better yet, find another practitioner.

Following the “magic shoe” logic from above, I would be better off wearing some personally signed Camille booty shorts, strapping my wrists with Donny Shankle duct tape, constructing a headband out of Matt Fraser’s chest hair and drinking Rich Froning’s sweat to improve my snatch rather than learning and drilling the mechanics of the lift.

Sorry, but unfashionable shoes won't fix your shitty running technique

Sorry, but unfashionable shoes won't fix your shitty running technique

The Running Lab is on a mission to change the negative affliction to running in the Crossfit community.  The debate on the best way to run, which part of your foot to strike the ground with, and what the best running shoes are will rage on forever and a day; but running is actually way less complicated than these debates.

Efficient running comes down to mobility, strength, posture, position and skilled movement achieved through drills.  These are the exact same components required for almost all Crossfit movements, yet seldom implemented when it comes to running.

The running technique of most Crossfit athletes is the equivalent of squatting with a rounded back, knees and ankles caved in, whilst someone assaults your shins with a crow bar.

The Running Lab aims to teach people how to reverse the damage sitting and footwear have caused their mobility; educate about The 7 Deadly Sins of Modern Footwear (free e-book download from www.therunninglab.com); make athletes understand that, in respect to strength and posture, it is the 23 hours each day they are not training that contributes to most of their injuries.

Click HERE on the photo to get this free epic ebook 

Click HERE on the photo to get this free epic ebook 

Making permanent change with our mobility and postural dysfunctions takes dedication and time but the rewards are forever.  Modifying the footwear you wear on a daily basis is simple in theory.  All you need is to adhere to four main principles – light, flat, flexible and the shape of the human foot.  This becomes complicated when you realise nearly all shoes made do not adhere to these principles; and that is before you take into account specific work and school requirements.

Once you improve your mobility, footwear choices, strength and posture, developing efficient running technique through drills becomes easy.  

The Running Lab uses a structured program of drills that build on one another over a 6-week period to simplify the skill of running.  When used correctly, and in the correct sequence, I have never witnessed anybody not improve their running efficiency immensely.

Like any movement, efficiency with running equates to less injuries, more enjoyment and better performance.

Head to www.therunninglab.com or follow on Instagram at the_running_lab or check out the Facebook page for more on the art of running.

Tim Bransdon