This blog is part of our ‘What is CrossFit’ series originally posted on the 20th February 2020. Nutrition actually featured further down the original list of topics we were going to cover however given that the majority of us are now at home and the temptation to form close relationships with our food cupboards is there, we thought we would cover this now!
It is a huge subject to cover in a small blog so we will again break it into two sections; Nutrition (general) and Nutrition for Training, this blog will cover nutrition from a general viewpoint. So the exciting news is that when it comes to nutrition there is no one answer or one fit for everyone and much is down to preference, individual opinion and personal goals. As a wise man once told us ‘the right diet for you is the one that works’ Rich Chessor (CFF Member and Performance Nutritionist to British Swimming). With so much information out there this is such a welcome and sensible piece of advice!
As mentioned above, when it comes to nutrition the approach you take is going to depend on what your goals are – weight loss, wellness, health, weight gain to name a few. We at CrossFit Fife believe in nutrition for health, for performance and for mindset – not for weight loss. If you are eating healthy nutritious food and exercising you won’t need to consider weight loss and yet it is still such a huge marketing tool and one that is not necessary. Rule number 1 – throw away the scales! We do appreciate that so many of you will be looking for information on weight loss so we have included it in our blog, talking from our perspective.
Although there are many ways in which this is dressed up, the science behind weight loss / gain is always the same – we all have a calorific need which is dependent on a number of factors including age, gender, activity levels etc and depending on whether we eat above or below that calorific need will depend on whether we gain, lose or maintain our weight. There are many techniques and online calculators for identifying your personal calorific daily need and then from there you adjust that need depending on your goals. We would recommend using this online calculator which we find to be really comprehensive:
If you want to lose weight then your intake in calories should be less than you need, if you want to gain weight it should be more and if you want to maintain then you should eat around the exact number that you need. Sounds simple – hmmmm! Of course the nutritional value of what you eat cannot simply be equated the calorific value hence the reason why we promote eating healthy.
When it comes to improving your health via nutrition it is similar to the above in that there is a mass of information out there and actually there is no perfect answer or a perfect diet. That said we know a lot about the effects on our bodies when we are not eating to support its natural functions and there are certainly steps that can be taken to improve our immune system and general health through nutrition. Here are our top tips shared from Dr Chatterjee – You Are What You Eat.
- Eliminate processed foods and highly refined carbohydrates – Processed foods are basically foods in a packet with a whole barrage of names and ingredients that you don’t recognise and cannot pronounce. Highly refined carbohydrates are foods like breakfast cereals (most of them!) and processed bread. These turn to sugar in the body very quickly and can have a detrimental effect on your mood.
- Reduce your sugar intake – Adding sugar to food can have a negative effect on your mood. In addition, much of our sugar intake these days comes from drinks, both soft drinks and so-called healthy options such as fruit juices. Cutting out sugar can be hard at first but within weeks your taste buds will start to change. Try sticking to plain water, tea and coffee.
- Increase your intake of healthy natural fats – Stabilise your blood sugar by eating more eggs, avocados, olives, nuts and seeds. I even find that good quality red meat can be hugely beneficial for some people suffering from depression.
- Get more Omega 3 in your diet – Fatty fish such as wild salmon, anchovies, sardines and mackerel are brilliant sources of Omega-3 fats, which can be helpful for your brain function. You can also get Omega-3 from grass fed beef and lamb. I do find that animal sources of Omega-3 tend to be more beneficial for my patients’ moods but vegetarians and vegans can also increase their intake by eating more leafy green vegetables (e.g. kale), chia seeds, flax seeds and nuts. One of the best non-animal sources of Omega-3 fats is seaweed – if you have never tried it before, give it a try!
- Eat more prebiotic fibre – There are trillions of gut bugs that live inside your gut. Some scientists call these the brain’s peacekeepers. The health and composition of these bugs plays a critical role in determining your mood. The best way to increase them is to eat more plant fibre. Best sources are leeks, onions, garlic, artichokes and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower.
It’s not always possible to get everything you need from diet alone as it’s often impossible to know the nutritional value we are getting from our fruit and veg and remember no one ever said a vegetable was bad for you! You have to be aware however there is a huge difference in the nutrients in a broccoli that we have grown ourselves compared to a super market bought product that was grown abroad, put into cold storage, flown around the world and then put on our supermarket shelf. Take time to research where your food is being sourced from. We would always recommend Athleat and\or farm shops for our meat, organic and\or from farm shops for our fruit, veg and dairy. Fish mongers\fish vans for our fish. With this in mind we also suggest that there is a need for dietary supplementation and this is a topic we will be covering in much more depth in coming weeks.