One of the most frequent questions I find myself answering when coaching my nutrition clients is “How do I make this work when I travel?” or “In this situation I find myself running around and need to grab something quick, where should I go?. Although I always recommend cooking your own fresh food as much as possible, I am human, and I understand life gets busy and these situations are all too common. One of the biggest pros of following a Flexible Nutrition program is that when life gets in the way and food prep isn’t an option, we know what to do!
Now, my “Nutrition On The Road” is a whole different piece entirely, but I thought it would be helpful to compile a list of “chain” eateries that are “macro friendly”. My intentions of doing this is to be of some assistance when you are looking for a quick option on the go while staying within your daily macro nutrient goals. We live in a society where businesses are driven based on the “convenience” factor – because that is what the general public wants. But, now more than ever businesses are also realizing that health is a major issue and little by little the majority of institutions are trying to make strides to accommodate the growing “health conscious” populations. This takes a bit of effort on your part though. You must do your homework and learn about the places you eat at and the different options they offer.
I am hoping this piece turns into a series of pieces where I can continue to provide you with this kind of information for all different chain eateries. In this first one, I tried to give you a simple variety for all kinds of different foods. I stayed away from “regional” chains and focused more on those that are found in all parts of the country. The following 10 eateries are some of the more common options out there and there are plenty of food choices at all of these places that carry some sort of nutritional value and can be useful when trying to stay within a nutrition plan on the go.
For each institution listed, I have included their most recent nutrition facts or a nutrition calculator for their menu. I have also included a meal option that is relatively “macro friendly” meaning it carries a caloric and macronutrient content that is reasonable and suitable for most “medium sized” humans to intake in a single meal.
I am hoping to bring awareness that it is OUR responsibility, as grown adults, to understand what we are ordering and eating day to day. The majority of chain restaurants out there have their nutrition facts easily available with a simple Google search of “ *CHAIN NAME* Nutrition”. Before you place an order at one of these places, take a few minutes to educate yourself on what you are about to eat – or feed your family! To take it even one step further, you may sometimes find that the institution you have searched for does not actually list their nutrition facts. That should not be a problem, and you should not avoid that restaurant because of it. Instead, take a place of similar kind and use their nutrition facts – odds are the nutrition information will be close enough to not completely ruin your nutrition parameters for the day!
Okay, so you are going to hate me for starting the piece off like this, but I had to. Unless you have an ABUNDANCE of fat to use, you’re probably going to want to steer clear of Five Guys. They are famous for cooking all of their foods in peanut oil, which obviously makes their already fatty foods (burgers and fries), even higher in fat. If I had to make a suggestion here, it would be a “Bunless Little Hamburger and Little Fries”. That is probably their most reasonable meal choice and it runs at a macro cost of 24p/72c/40f. My biggest issue with 5 Guys is that they don’t really offer any better alternatives. There is no salad or veggie on the menu as a side, and even their “sandwiches” are very high in fat. Don’t get me wrong, I use to frequent that place, especially after “hard exercise times”. Until one day, I tried to actually make room for it… and realized there were much smarter choices I could be making!
Ice cream is one of those foods that gets a bad rap when, from a macro nutrient point of view is not that bad in moderation. Those last two words are key as often, ice cream is one of those foods that we overeat. I like Baskin Robbins because their ice cream is a bit more reasonable when it comes to fat than say, Ben and Jerrys or Cold Stone. If you go into Baskin Robbins and ask for a Small (2.5 oz) with one topping such as sprinkles or oreo cookie crumbles, you are looking at a macro count of about 15-25g of carbs and 5-10g of fat. Even a Large (4 oz) isn’t incredibly awful at a count of about 28-35g carbs and 14-20g of fat. Each specific flavor has their own macro nutrient profile but you can surely find one that fits your ice cream craving, as long as you agree to consume it in moderation!
BWW can be a pretty stressful place if you are weighing and measuring intake. I am here to help! It does not have to be stressful and there are some hidden gems on the menu that will help you through your experience there. Now, keep in mind that you wont be able to pig out on wings and fries like you may have experienced in the past. But if you are taking your nutrition seriously, you likely already understand that. My go to when I am in BWW are the Grilled Chicken Buffalitos – they are grilled chicken tacos that run 19p/18c/10f. This leaves room for a sauce of my choice to put on them, as well as a side order of Buffalo Chips or French Fries that will be around 40c/15f. Anther option could be something like a large grilled chicken salad (no dressing) and an order of SNACK size Teriyaki Traditional Wings (43p/12c/19f).
As a north east girl, Chick Fil A was only available during those exciting road trips down to the southern states during road games (that didn’t fall on Sunday’s of course). So, it always holds a special place of excitement in my heart as it was a treat. Even though I had been in Virginia for two years, Texas, and now Missouri where it is readily available – it is still a place I need to stop in every once in a while out of pure joy. Chick Fil A has recently made some strides to include healthier options into their menu. I like this. Of course, there are always HORRIBLE choices you could make here. But there are some decent ones as well. A Grilled Chicken Sandwich (pictured below) sits at 30p/40c/5f, while a 12-piece Grilled Nuggets sits at 34p/6c/5f. If you are okay with having a wrap while eating here, their Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap sits at 36p/30c/13f. Those numbers really aren’t bad, however the side items is usually where the trouble can start. You can make better choices in sides by opting for the Hearty Breast of Chicken Soup (12p/18c/3f – Medium size), or their new Superfood Side (4p/23c/8f – Large size). Try and avoid breakfast at Chick Fil A, almost every option is a “macro waste”!
Chili’s is actually a favorite “on the go” of mine and a place where, if you know how to navigate the menu correctly, can give you a pretty big meal for your “macro buck”. There are actually a bunch of options I could list here, but I will go with my traditional go to. When you first sit down here, they will bring out complimentary chips and salsa. Although the temptation is real, it would be wise to not touch these as chips are some of the most macro-wasting food out there. We all know how awful human self control is when it comes to something like chips, and tortilla chips are literally just a waste of fats and carbs. Instead, I always order either a side salad (4p/10c/3f) or a cup of Southwest Chicken soup (4p/10c/5f) to start while the rest of the table is munching on chips. For my meal, my usual here is a “Make it a Combo” option which allows you to choose two proteins and a side of your choice. I like to go with the Margarita Grilled Chicken and Seared Shrimp (44p/10c/7f) with a side of either Steamed Broccoli (3p/8c/0f), Asparagus & Tomatoes (4p/12c/1.5f), or their Citrus Chile Rice (3p/27c/1.5f) if I need more carbs. There are plenty of other choices on their menu that can make solid meals – just do a bit of research before!
Chipotle is one that people ALWAYS ask me about. It is kind of silly to me, because it is probably the most convenient place to “track macros” at. If you click on the link above, you will see that you literally just click on what you have chosen to put into your burrito or bowl, and boom, it adds all the components up and gives you the complete nutrition facts. I think it will be a bit eye opening as to what is actually in the different components of your meal – I know that after discovering their nutrition calculator, my order has changed a bit from what it use to be. I always get questions about how accurate I think this actually is, meaning “how do I know they’re putting that exact amount of rice in my bowl”. The answer is that we really don’t, but the calculation will be close enough to trust that you are not incredibly off on your numbers. Remember that when eating food you haven’t prepared yourself there is always a level of estimation and that is okay! Needless to say, Chipotle is for sure a “favorite spot” for me, and one I always seek out.
I love breakfast food. If I had to eat nothing but breakfast for the rest of my life I actually would not be mad, at all. Any kind of breakfast works for me… dishes I make myself, eating breakfast out at a diner, even chain restaurants are fine with me for breakfast. To be perfectly honest, I would much rather a local, mom and pop diner any day over Denny’s – but when that isn’t possible, this will do. Their food is actually not loaded with fat as most of their counterparts are (like IHOP) and their menu choices are very simple. You have some options here, which allows for a lot of flexibility depending on your personal macro intake. One option is to take a look at their “build your own grand slam” section and piece together a breakfast that works well with you. If that takes too much work, they have a menu section called “Fit Fare” which I usually choose from. It is pre- assembled breakfasts at reasonable macro costs – like their “Fit Slam” (24p/54c/10f), or their “Fit Fare Omelette” (32p/59c/16f). While doing research for this piece, I came across their “Fit Fare Banana Pecan Pancake Breakfast” which runs at 29p/134c/13f. Seems outrageous, buuuuut would make an amazing post workout meal on a refeed day (or regular day for all of you large male humans)!
When I put it out there about writing this piece and asked what people would like me to include, I had a great deal of “pizza” responses. I feel you guys. I, myself, have a pizza problem. That problem is the fact that I either want NO pizza, or an ENTIRE pizza to myself. I refer to it as “pizza for one” (see below). Most times, this takes strategic macro planning and blocking out enough of my daily intake to be able to include a pizza for one. But, if I feel the urge, I make it happen. My go to at Domino’s is usually a 10’ Gluten Free Crust topped with Light Cheese, Grilled Chicken, Spinach, Red Peppers, and Onions (pictured below). This comes at a macro cost of 24p/90c/30f for the ENTIRE PIE, #pizzaforone ! From looking at that you could imagine what the rest of my day looks like. Lots of chicken, egg whites, and veggies. However, on days I am craving pizza – it is worth the sacrifice. Now, obviously I referred to Domino’s because it gives a calculator that I love. You can add whatever toppings you want, cheese level, size, ect. When you are out at a gourmet pizza place, or a non-chain place (that is amazingly delicious), I still recommend using this calculator. It will allow you to estimate as closely as possible. Remember that the calculator gives you readings BY THE SLICE. So, if you are like me and #pizzaforone or bust, you would have to multiply its results by 6 (or 8 for larger pies) to get macros for the whole pie.
I always get really excited when I have the opportunity to go to Outback. It is my favorite chain steakhouse and a place that is really easy to order a filling and delicious macro friendly dish. As a company they are pretty health conscious, and their website is a reflection of that. Their site even has an “under 600 calories” tab which will focus your attention to the quality choices right away. You can easily start your meal off with a side salad (5p/12c/6f) or a cup of Chicken Tortilla Soup (9p/13c/9f). As far as steaks, their Outback Center Cut Sirloin 6oz. (38c/7f) or their Victoria’s Filet Mignon (40p/9f) would be my reccomendations. If you are not a steak eater and would rather white meat, their Grilled Chicken on the Barbie (5oz) with Seasonal Mixed Vegetables (35p/28c/13f) is a quality option. On their nutrition listings for side dishes, they include all of the toppings (such as butter and brown sugar on the sweet potato) so I usually just order a sweet potato with no toppings and log it as 200g (typical size of a potato). They do offer other vegetable sides that are a great choice as well.
It seems incredibly necessary that I open this paragraph by making one thing clear before you continue to read on. I am not going to spend time in this description discussing “macro friendly coffee drinks” – I get that question all the time, and it is ALWAYS a face palm moment for me. Coffee is made to be consumed one way – BLACK… black and strong (thats still one way). I refuse to acknowledge all of these foo foo drinks that everyone takes up time ordering at Starbucks. Drinks that are all basically desserts or coffee flavored milk. If your coffee has “too many calories”, you are not drinking coffee, you are drinking dessert. For more on that topic, you can read this gem “THE SKINNY LATTE TREND” …and stop asking me for “macro-friendly” coffee suggestions. Drink COFFEE, plain, black, and strong. Now, to the food. Starbucks has MY FAVORITE on the go item which is their Turkey Bacon Breakfast Sandwich (13p/28c/6f). I am also a huge fan of their Roasted Turkey Sandwhich (45p/48c/12f) for lunch. My favorite “treats” from them are the Cookie Dough Cake Pop (23c/9f) or the Petite Vanilla Scone (18c/4.5f).
Friday’s is one of those very common “I am traveling and I want something quick and reliable” out of your element places. Although the temptation is high in here to just throw your hands up and think you don’t have a good option around – that is not the case. Their Turkey Burger (31p/48c/22f) is a decent option and you even have the choice of “making it green” which would mean without the bun. They do have some fancy Naan bread sandwhiches in both Shrimp and Mahi Mahi that are 32p/55c/15f. Interestingly enough, their Bruschetta Chicken Pasta (half order) comes out to 21p/47c.25f an is PLENTY of food for a meal with a side salad! The side dishes is where you would most likely run into an issue as both their french fries and sweet potato fries carry a count of 50c/20f. I recommend always going with a side salad instead.
To view my website and the other services I offer, visit www.HonorYourNutrition.com or you can email me at email@example.com !
I thought I would put together this weekly overview to show you all how I manage my day food-wise. This is a pretty typical week for me right now. For some perspective – I am currently 4 weeks out of the USAW National Championships. As of now, I am weightlifting primarily where my sessions usually last about two hours. Four to five days a week, I will incorporate some kind of conditioning piece in there with an aerobic focus (20-30 minute workouts at 150-160 bpm heart rate). I get up at 4:20 am a few times a week to coach the 5:00 am and 6:00 am classes and I have learned how to adjust my schedule accordingly so I am not incredibly hungry on those days. I do have the luxury of going home at some point almost everyday to make lunch, and pack meals with me for the rest of the day – as I currently am on a plan where I work to have a meal every 3 hours. What you will not see in my log is my daily supplement intake. I use TEN Performance supplements and take RECOVERY and PME every morning as well as HCE and BCAA’s in my daily water, with RPM before bed at night. In addition to that, I take a multivitamin as well as a probiotic daily. I aim for 1 gallon of water per day, and 8 full hours of sleep at night.
Currently, my caloric intake is fairly low (for me) at only around 1900 kCal per day with an untracked meal during the week that typically brings my calories up to about 2800-3000 on that day. This time last year I was training for Crossfit Regionals, and then eventually the Crossfit Games, and my caloric intake was up to about 2600 kCal per day. I do work well off an intuitive eating method, and if I am more or less hungry on some days I will eat accordingly. I have no scenario coming up where I would need to cut weight or make weight. I am lifting in the 69kg lifter at Nationals and naturally walk between 66kg-68kg so I am eating for performance and maintenance right now. I am keeping my foods as clean as possible in order to enhance recovery, reduce inflammation, and get the most out of my training these last few weeks before Nationals. After nationals, I will do this again and it is very likely you will see a bit more ice cream, cookies, and less quality foods incorporated into my week. But for now, its full focus ahead to being the best me on that platform in a few weeks!
My basic intentions of writing this piece is to allow you to understand that although our nutrition often has a specific plan, life happens. It is okay to work your plan around a different daily schedule, or to incorporate an untracked meal during the week. I also wanted to give some insight into what my foods look like daily. I eat a ton of Trifecta Nutrition protein, as it is quick and easy. I try to work in a variety of fruits and veggies. I do not eliminate gluten, nor dairy, but I try to limit them as much as possible. I am a creature of habit – and often repeat meals day to day simply because I like them.
MONDAY – April 17th
Monday is always one of my busier days of the week. I am up at 4:25 am to coach. Before leaving the house, I make a bulletproof latte in my Magic Bullet using MCT oil, protein powder, and coffee (you will see this as an almost daily routine in my food log). I coach until 7:00 am, and then start warming up to train around 7:30 am. In addition to being up early, it is a higher volume training day – lots of lifts and heavy! My session usually goes until about 10:00 am where I head home to eat breakfast (Meal 2), work on emails from nutrition clients, and get any daily errands done that I need to. I ate Meal 3 at home, just before leaving for a chiro visit, then headed to the gym to get a conditioning workout in with the 3:30 pm class. I had Meal 4 on the gym floor, right before coaching Barbell Club from 5:00-7:00pm, then headed home for dinner (Meal 5). After cleaning up, taking a shower, and answering some emails, I was off to bed (early because I coach at 5:00 am again tomorrow!) with my pre-bed snack of popcorn and some tea.
Food Log by the Numbers:
MEAL 1: 14p/20c/10f
MEAL 2: 29p/47c/15f
MEAL 3: 33p/46c/6f
MEAL 4: 18p/30c/5f
MEAL 5: 30p/19c/12f
SNACK 6: 4p/23c/2f
TOTALS: 139 Protein, 206 Carbs, 57 Fat (32g Fiber, 48g Sugar) 1893 Calories
TUESDAY – April 18th
Tuesday is a lighter day in terms of responsibilities and training. I did coach 5:00 and 6:00 am classes, but then headed back home to lay down, relax, and watch SportsCenter before getting up to have Meal 2 and answer some emails. Tuesday is a lighter day when it comes to training volume, and I do not coach in the evening – so I knew I would train later on. My day was pretty much just chores, errands, and emails until I headed to workout at around 4:00 pm. I ate Meal 3 at home, and whipped up Meal 4 (which was an AMAZING homemade acai bowl – MY FAVORITE!) right before walking out the door. When I was done training, I had a text waiting from my amazing boyfriend that he wanted to take me out to a movie. Our favorite theatre is one that serves dinner to you in incredible recliners while you watch the movie (seriously the best thing ever invented). So, my Meal 5 was a restaurant meal. Majority of their menu is fried food, burgers and pizza. I knew I wanted to stay on track with my numbers so I ordered a simple grilled chicken salad with dressing on the side – a safe bet almost anywhere! When we got home, I had a pre-bed snack of some Halo Top!
Food Log by the Numbers:
MEAL 1: 16p/23c/7f
MEAL 2: 25p/35c/13f
MEAL 3: 33p/59c/14f
MEAL 4: 21p/46c/9f
MEAL 5: 28p/18c/7f
SNACK 6: 12p/30c/6f
TOTALS: 135 Protein, 211 Carbs, 56 Fat (34g Fiber, 86g Sugar) 1888 Calories
WEDNESDAY – April 19th
I got to sleep in today, so I was able to catch up on some much needed recovery hours! I got up around 9:00 am which means I technically skipped Meal 1 and my day started with Meal 2 at around 10:00 am. It is totally fine when this happens as I end up just having larger meals throughout the day and usually means a bit bigger of a pre-bed snack (I am very okay with that!). My workout happened from about 11:00-1:00pm where I then headed home for Meal 3 at around 2:00 pm and some client emails until I had to head back to the gym to coach at 5:00 pm. On my way to coach, I had Meal 4 and then had dinner (Meal 5) when I got home. My pre-bed snack, Meal 6 was an amazing one (as promised) and included an Enlightened Ice Cream Bar and a serving of Reese’s Puffs cereal! I LOVE CEREAL!!!
Food Log by the Numbers:
MEAL 1: SLEEP!
MEAL 2: 27p/39c/18f
MEAL 3: 34p/65c/17f
MEAL 4: 32p/50c/6f
MEAL 5: 28p/13c/16f
SNACK 6: 11p/40c/7f
TOTALS: 132 Protein, 207 Carbs, 64 Fat (33g Fiber, 105g Sugar) 1932 Calories
THURSDAY – April 20th
Today started at 4:25 am where I headed in to coach 5:00 am, 6:00 am, 9:00 am, and Noon class. I didn’t make my protein latte this morning as I was out of coffee (incredibly tragic), so instead I stopped for coffee on the way to the gym and added two tubs of creamer to it. I did a 30 minute recovery workout after the 6:00 pm class but waited until normal feeding time to have Meal 2 as I wasn’t very hungry yet. I had Meal 2 after I coached at 10:00 am which consisted of a protein bar on the way to my weekly chiro appointment. After coaching noon class, I headed home for lunch (Meal 3) around 1:30-2:00 pm, and then worked on emails and nutrition programming for a few hours. After a few hours of solid work, I worked up an appetite and was counting down the minutes until my planned meal time of 4:30 where I had Meal 4. I worked on dinner for Brenton (a Beefy Mac & Cheese!) and I was pretty hungry in the process. I checked my food log and realized I had quite a bit of food left and really only one meal to go. So, I went had a snack around 6:30 pm. When he got home we had dinner – Meal 5 – around 8:00 pm. Pre-bed snack was my favorite popcorn while watching the LeBron be a man.
Food Log by the Numbers:
MEAL 1: 0p/3f/10c
MEAL 2: 21p/17c/9f
MEAL 3: 31p/53c/20f
MEAL 4: 42p/62c/7f/
MEAL 5: 32p/22c/5f
SNACK 6: 4p/23c/2f
TOTALS: 139 Protein, 212 Carbs, 55 Fat (30g Fiber, 54g Sugar) 1899 Calories
FRIDAY – April 21st
Friday is my favorite training day because it is HEAVY SINGLE FRIDAY! This training session is also one of my longer ones as I take my time. I planned on meeting my training partner at a nearby gym that has kilo plates at 9:00 am to start our session. So I got up around 7:30 am and had breakfast, or Meal 1 around 8:00 am. I planned on just bumping my normal meal times back an hour – however, my training session went longer than expected as we got started later, so I ended up not eating Meal 2 until about 12:30 pm (usually 10:00 am). Because of this, I technically skipped what is usually my first lunch. Not a big deal at all, my schedule was just different today! After eating at home, I worked on some client programs, ran some errands, and headed to the gym to coach the 3:30 class. While they were hitting their workout, I had Meal 4 – which was a quick snack of a protein bar and Fitaid at about 4:00pm. I then worked out with the 4:30 pm class, coached my lifters a bit, and headed home for dinner or Meal 5. Often, my boyfriend and I eat out on a Friday night, however we will likely be out to eat tomorrow for a meal or two as we have a full day planned, so I was fine with dinner at home tonight. Pre-bed snack was one of my favorites – Halo Top mixed with cottage cheese!
Food Log by the Numbers:
MEAL 1: 25p/31c/16f
MEAL 2: 35p/57c/14f
MEAL 3: N/A
MEAL 4: 22p/34c/7f
MEAL 5: 28p/38c/15f
SNACK 6: 19p/48c/9f
TOTALS: 132 Protein, 210 Carbs, 60 Fat (37g Fiber, 68g Sugar) 1908 Calories
SATURDAY – April 22nd
Today I was up early (for a weekend) as I was headed to train and hangout in Joplin, MO – about an our away from home – at Midwestern Built’s new gym. They are one of my awesome sponsors, and the brand that supplies my Honor Your Gifts apparel line. My boyfriend and I were shooting to be there for 11:00 am, so I got up and made breakfast – Meal 2 – by 10:00 am. Almost always, Meal 1 is skipped on weekends as I sleep right though it! By about 1:00 pm, I was mid squat sets with about an hour of exercise ahead and no lunch in sight. I grabbed an RX Bar and got back to squatting – it served as Meal 3 and was good enough to hold me over until lunch! I was hanging out with a handful of athletes training for Crossfit Regionals, so naturally I got tempted into some high intensity workouts with them. I hit two different conditioning pieces, something I haven’t done since putting weightlifting first this season. I felt great, but knew it was more volume than I was use to and I was going to be HUNGRRRYYY later (and sore tomorrow!). Lunch, or Meal 4, happened between 3:30 and 4:00 pm as soon as we were done training. It was Chipotle and an ice cold TravelAID, provided by the awesome MWB staff. I easily tracked it using the Chipotle Nutrition Calculator. We headed to the hotel to shower and rest a bit until the big cookout we had planned. We stopped at the grocery store and picked up some snacks to hold us over until then. I grabbed 6oz of blackberries and a non-fat yogurt as a small snack. We headed to the cookout around 6:00 pm and sat down for an AMAZING dinner around 7:30. I used this meal as my untracked meal of the week. I try and do this once per week both for mental sanity and to keep metabolism strong. It works well for me, and I find it helps to keep me on track the rest of the week. I didn’t go overboard (okay, maybe a little when the desserts came out), but I surely ate more than the macros I had left for the day. I stopped when I was full (or VERY full, oops) and felt just fine. The homemade desserts were SO worth it after the long day of training.
Food Log by the Numbers:
MEAL 1: SLEEP!
MEAL 2: 26p/37c/13f
MEAL 3: 12p/23c/8f
MEAL 4: 36p/47c/11f
MEAL 5: UNTRACKED MEAL
TOTALS: UNKNOWN, probably around 2800-3000 Calories
SUNDAY – April 23rd
Sunday mornings are slow and calm, and I love that. I don’t usually get my day started until I start getting ready for church which usually happens at 10:45 am. When I got up and started getting ready, I had my bulletproof latte. I didn’t have my first real meal – Meal 3 – until I got home around 12:30 pm. I went food shopping for the week (where I had a snack when I got in!), finished up new client programs, did some errands around the house and then had Meal 4 at around 4:00 pm. I then headed out with my boyfriend as we did his food shopping for the week, and went to a few other stores. When we got back to his house, I helped him cook meals for the week and then we both sat down to dinner – Meal 5 – at around 8:00 pm. Pre-bed snack was pretty much immediately after that, as I tasted my homemade Peanut Butter Energy Balls that I made for the first time tonight as per Brenton’s request. THEY DID NOT DISAPPOINT!
Food Log by the Numbers:
MEAL 1: SLEEP!
MEAL 2: 5p/5c/6f
MEAL 3: 25p/64c/17f
MEAL 4: 37p/37c/13f
MEAL 5: 32p/23c/9f
TOTALS: 119 Protein, 185 Carbs, 60 Fat (35g Fiber, 65g Sugar) 1756 Calories *my carbs (and overall intake) were a bit lower today which I don’t totally mind as it was a complete rest day, and the day following my high intake (untracked meal).
This is my quick yet purposeful edition of “Mythbusters”. I felt this was important to address this flexible style of eating often comes with a lot of criticism and negative connotation. As of recent, there are so many athletes, coaches, and everyday people following this idea of “IIFYM” or “Flexible Dieting”. If you are one of my clients or athletes, you know that as a company, Honor Your Nutrition NEVER refers to our coaching style as “IIFYM” (if it fits your macros) nor do we use the word “dieting”. In my personal opinion, IIFYM refers to the idea that it is okay to eat junk food, little to no greens and vegetables, as well as processed food in copious amounts as long as it “fits your numbers”. This is something I strongly disagree with as a coach of nutrition and proper fueling practices. I also try and avoid the word dieting at all costs. The word “diet” often carries a negative connotation. It is something that many people view as a restrictive idea, a struggle, and a sacrifice. I want my clients and athletes to be comfortable with their system of nutrition and fueling and I want them to be able to make educated, responsible choices while still achieving balance in their lives and not feeling incredibly restricted.
My intentions in this short piece are to address the 5 most common myths that I often hear about Flexible Nutrition. To ensure you that true coaching of Flexible Nutrition does not include an “IIFYM” approach, and to hopefully encourage someone who has shied away from this method of nutrition to give it a try!
1. Flexible Nutrition is so innovative and brand new!
Although we all like to think that when we discover something was when it came to fruition, that is often not true. Flexible Nutrition is a system of monitoring amounts of macronutrient (protein, carbohydrates, & fats) intake for an individual – specific to their lifestyle, age, activity level, and goals. THIS IS NOTHING NEW! It has been around for years in the bodybuilding world (and the world in general – Weight Watchers is a very successful plan that follows FN ideology!), and then slowly made its way over to performance sports like powerlifting and weightlifting. In the past year, the buzz word “macros” in reference to Flexible Nutrition, has nearly taken over the CrossFit/functional fitness world. However, the Zone diet was actually designed along the lines of a similar concept and was meant to be executed in a similar fashion. I find it amusing when I hear individuals talk about Flexible Nutrition or “counting macros” like it is this incredible new discovery. Yes, it has gained a good deal of momentum and popularity in our fitness circle recently – and I am really happy about that because I think it is a system that can be properly utilized by everyone. However, it is important to understand that this concept is nothing new! It has been around since the beginning of nutrition education and is the very basis on which most successful nutrition plans work.
2. It is too time-consuming for me to weigh and measure food.
Often, I hear from people that they want to learn more about Flexible Nutrition but don’t want to worry about weighing and measuring food because it is too time-consuming and too much of an intricate. I get it. The concept of having to track, count, weigh, and measure may seem like it takes up extra time and energy if you are not familiar with it. However, if you 1) already prep your meals, 2) carry around your phone, and 3) are serious about your nutrition as a means to properly fuel your body and help you reach your goals – then it really is not that time-consuming. The things in life that you prioritize and make time for will be the things you will be successful at. It is a matter of deciding if this is important enough to you. It takes little extra energy to place a plate on a scale before loading it up, or to read a nutrition label on those “protein bars” you eat every day! Not every single gram of everything needs to be weighed and measured. But, with this system of tracking intake comes an awareness that is invaluable. You don’t have to be perfect, but the general education that comes from starting to understand how much of each macronutrient goes into your body daily can allow you to make some serious changes in your nutrition and your training. Like the old saying goes – if it is important to you, you will find a way, if not you will find an excuse!
3. Flexible Nutrition only works for high-level athletes or “genetically gifted” individuals.
This myth is often one that I hear whenever I post a picture consuming something that is a “treat”, or a “20% food”. (At HYN, we refer to 20% food as treats that we incorporate into our nutrition plan 20% of the time, ensuring that the other 80% are micronutrient dense foods.) I can’t even count the number of times I have heard “you can only eat *insert 20% food here* because you are an athlete/young/have good genetics”. This could not be further from the truth. As has been stated, the pictures most people see (of my ice cream bowls or amazing pizza-for-one nights) are 20% of what my daily diet looks like (#5 will elaborate even more on that). But, like I always explain, #ChickenPicturesAreBoring – no one gets amused by seeing nightly pictures of my incredibly exciting chicken breasts and asparagus, so those plates get posted less often. On that note, this system really does work for everyone. That is the essence of this style of nutrition – it is FLEXIBLE. It can be tweaked and molded for anyone, of any age, with any history, and any training schedule or future goals. I have had successful clients in all different demographics, and success looks and feels different to everyone. No, I do not make “treats” off limits to anyone, nor do I ever give a list of “restricted foods”. Instead, I teach my clients and athletes the correct amounts of each macronutrient they should be consuming and why – according to their personal situation. I view it as my responsibility as a coach to educate them on how to occasionally fit fun foods or special cravings into their life without feeling guilty about it or derailing their goals. We should all learn to enjoy life and food while not losing sight of our ultimate goals and aspirations… that is being flexible!
4. All “macro counters” eat the same way.
To group “macro counters” in one huge category is like using the word “human” to describe someone. Following a Flexible Nutrition plan simply means that you are tracking intake and trying to meet a specific number of protein, carbohydrates, and fats per day. It does not, in any way, describe what your diet is actually consisting of. Some of my clients are paleo, some are vegetarians, some vegans. I have clients that eat like an 8-year-old on an unsupervised grocery trip (yes, I work hard on helping them change that), and I have clients that consume less than 40g of sugar daily. I have a handful of clients with dietary limitations for health reasons and others for limitations due to personal reasons. I have diabetics, pregnant women, and celiac clients among many others. Flexible Nutrition is not a cookie-cutter system. You cannot simply tell someone “I follow Flexible Nutrition” and have them understand what your daily nutrition is made up of. That is the underlying beauty of this system. It can truly be molded to work for anyone and can be embraced by people who all have different beliefs and needs when it comes to what they put in their bodies! No-one should be ostracized for what or how they eat and I love coaching this system that is all-inclusive and gives people a common platform to jump off from!
5. Flexible Nutrition encourages a diet filled with low-quality foods.
I know this was the myth you were all waiting for. Save the best for last right?! I know, I know, I confused the WHOLE world when I wrote an article entitled “How Donuts Gave Me Abs…” and everyone is up in arms that Krissy Cagney is running a nutrition based company called “Doughnuts & Deadlifts” – because that promotes a poor message when it comes to nutrition, right?! Well… not really. If anyone has spent more than a minute paying attention to look past the blog titles or company names – and actually spoke to me, or her, about the topic – it would be understood. Flexible Nutrition is not a system based on “how many donuts, Oreos, and cake can I eat in a day”. It is a system that very clearly outlines the appropriate intake needed by a person. It then allows them to eat responsibly and fill that intake however they would like. No food is off limits, but quality food is the priority. That statement cannot be argued. It is the same 80/20 rule that so many of us are already familiar with. I do not encourage that an individual fills their daily intake with low-quality food, but I also know it is not always necessary to completely remove it from your intake. By putting a “bad” label on foods, or using the term “cheat” when referring to nutrition, we are implying that a person is doing something wrong by consuming a certain food. That is referred to as “food shaming” which is a very real and serious issue that can lead to guilt, unhappiness, and poor relationships with food. Some individuals have struggled with this their entire lives, and others develop it later on in their life after trying to be restrictive for a certain period of time. Being able to live life and enjoy it’s great pleasures responsibly – like doughnuts, pizza, Oreos, and ice cream – is a lovely ability to have. We are able to keep our goals in line, while also being human and feeling a sense of “flexibility” in our nutrition habits.
If you are interested in reading more on the topic of Flexible Nutrition, are looking for a set of personalized macronutrient numbers, or some in-depth nutrition coaching, you can head over to my website at HONOR YOUR NUTRITION. For recipe ideas and tips follow @honoryournutrition and @ncapurso22 on Instagram.
One of the most common questions I get from my nutrition clients is about supplementation in addition to nutrition. It always comes up as a question because I rarely volunteer the idea on my own. I believe that a proper approach to nutrition prioritizes overall caloric intake, then macronutrient balance, then micronurrient and vitamin balance, followed by nutrient timing, and FINALLY supplements (see chart below). As I often explain at my seminars – “it is like watching your house burn down and worrying about what cable channels you have access to”. If we don’t prioritze the basics of nutrition, no supplement in the world will help us.
After explaining that, I then explain that I do take a line of supplements, and I do believe in them (otherwise I would not be taking nor promoting them). I use an array of products that TEN Performance has developed. This company is pretty unique and their products are developed by doctors through a top notch process that is different from many other companies. My daily bundle includes: Hydrocell Enhancer (HCE), Bound B Vitamin Complex (BBC), Velvet Deer Antler Extract (AGF), Regenabolic PM Nightime (RPM), and Pro Metabolic Enhancer (PME). All of these supplements come in liquid form and are either taken sublingual, or can be added in your water. I also use their grass fed whey protein (from cows not treated with hormones) if I am short of my protein goal for the day, as well as their BCAA which are unflavored and as pure as you can get.
My intentions with this “A Closer Look at Supplements” series is to highlight each of these products a bit in order to help my clients and blog followers understand a bit more about my personal supplement regiment. Hopefully, these efforts will allow you to decide which products could benefit you personally – as everyone’s needs and wants are slightly different.
VOLUME I: Pro Metabolic Enhancer “PME”
When/How?! – I take PME immediately upon waking, usually while making a pot of coffee. I take one serving, sublingual (2/3 of a dropper of liquid under my tongue) and let it sit there and absorb for two full minutes before swallowing. I try not to eat or drink anything for 10 minutes after taking it.
TEN Performance has created an amazing product in their Pro Metabolic Enhancer (PME). As a nutrition coach and consultant, many of the issues I see with my clients come from a metabolism that is damaged, or off track. That damage is not often severe and simply needs a kick start and a bit of resetting to get back on track. A properly balanced and timed diet, along with TEN’s PME supplement can help remedy this metabolic issue in a fairly short period of time.
PME is a formula of concentrated lipotropics. Lioptropics are best known for their work as liver decongestants where they promote the breakdown of stored fats in the liver. In the modern American way of life, stored fats in the liver are a common issue that can lead to sluggishness and weight gain. By breaking them down, we are making the stored fat cells more mobile and able to be used as energy by your body. Aside from the very important lipotropics, PME is filled with a very high potency B vitamin complex (B6 and B12) which is known to naturally boost metabolism and energy levels. I find that this helps my clients to push through workouts on days where they would have been exhausted and decided to skip a training day.
The very crucial combination of these lipotropics, B vitamins, and Guarana extract (natural energy source that allows the body to recognize being “full” sooner) provides a thermogenic effect to your body, increasing BMR (basal metabolic rate) and your body’s capability to burn fat. It also will enhance energy levels and endurance by allowing your body to produce higher amounts of oxygen in your blood. All of this, in turn, will help burn fat and improve lean muscle retention.
I use this product daily, and love to recommend it to my clients because the benefits are too great to keep it a secret! Almost everyone I come in contact with can benefit from the effects of PME – especially my female clients. Along with a daily well balanced diet, proper timing of meals, and a consistent training program, using PME will be an amazing addition to your life in order to help you reach your goals!
If you are interested in PME or any of TEN Performance’s other products, head over and pay them a visit HERE ! Be sure to use “capurso10” at checkout for a sweet discount!
For more nutrition assistance or to get started on a personalized Honor Your Nutrition program CLICK HERE!
If you have been following my journey for a bit, whether for exercise, nutrition, or any other reason – you know that I am now a Crossfit Regional Champion. You may also know that this took me quite a few years, quite a few states, and quite a few failures before it was able to be accomplished. I was unable to do this alone. In mid November, I found my way to Spring, Texas to join a hard-working, no-nonsense group of individuals at Crossfit Overtake, who have grown into some of my best friends. On Sunday, as we all huddled together, heads touching, arms interlocked, we cried together, like babies, on the finish mat of the final event. The overwhelming feeling of knowing we had dominated the weekend, won, and were headed to the Crossfit Games was unreal. I was about as thankful for seven people as I ever had been in my life.
To say this means a lot to me is an understatement. That may all seem really cliche. However, almost no one knows where I was mentally a year ago. After regionals in 2015 (I competed in the Atlantic region as an individual), I pretty much wanted nothing to do with competitive exercise. I was tired of training alone daily. Most days I just walked through the motions, hating training, being constantly miserable that I felt trapped in a sport that I no longer loved. I knew something needed to change as more days than not I found myself leaving a training session unfinished – in tears. This was not how it was suppose to be. I have always loved sports, competing, and fitness in general. But, I have always loved team sports. The camaraderie, the accountability, the “its not just about you” basis of all team sports is what keeps me motivated, hungry, and inspired daily. I talked about this a bit only with some of my closest friends – Marco Coppola being one of them. His flat out response was “Well, move to Texas as soon as possible.”. We didn’t speak about the Games initially, but we both knew the possibility if I made the move. With the support of many people in my life – I was able to do it 3 months later. Crossfit Overtake was my new home.
Training here was very, very different from what I was use to. I was training with Marco and Alex daily, and things no longer revolved around only me and my training. It was a bit of an awakening at first, however I grew to love it really quick. It made “practice” and “the grind” fun again. On the weekends, the whole team would train together, and Saturdays easily became my favorite training day (in the past they had been my least favorite!) Everyday wasn’t easy. In the past 7 months I have caught an attitude, been upset, frustrated, anxious, concerned, and every other form of crazy female athlete expression – however I knew I had a team with me. A team that was relying on me to do what I do and contribute my gifts to our ultimate goal when the time came. I started to realize there was very little time for anything that wasn’t working toward our goal. Training became enjoyable and exciting again. As the days passed in Texas I became more and more comfortable with our system and the way we, #TeamDensity, do things. By February, I couldn’t even remember training any other way and I was having the time of my life for the first time ever in Crossfit. I found where I belonged. I found seven people and a system who made me love what I was doing again.
When I think back to this story and how I ended up on top of the podium at Crossfit Regionals, it is truly amazing. Sometimes you really do need to take a leap of faith, trust the right people, get uncomfortable, buy into a system every single day, work hard, and be dedicated to one goal. Every time I look down at my medal (which I had plenty of time to do because I wore it for about two days straight), I see the girl who a year ago wanted out from competition. I see the big move. I see all the help and support and love I got from my parents. I see the hard work and constant effort from all of us. I see all the trust and belief I have in my coach and my team. I see the seven people who have been by my side the last 7 months. The seven amazing people who have grinded, suffered, worked, sweat, laughed, and cried (even at the expense of 100 burpees) by my side day in and day out. In case you aren’t familiar with them yet, allow me to introduce my teammates.
Alex is our sparkplug. She is Marco’s niece, has been with #TeamDensity since its inception, and knows CrossFit no other way. Although only 21, she is a veteran to Team CF, making her third appearance at regionals this year. You know EXACTLY what you will get from her in each workout, and that factor of consistency is invaluable on a team. Alex recovered from a knee injury last year that still leaves her in pain, swollen, and uncomfortable more days than not. However, this is never used as an excuse, hindrance, or explanation as to why something went wrong. I train with Alex daily, as we have similar schedules. I have never had a consistent female training partner before like this and I am so thankful for her everyday. We race hard in training, and it is often a constant back and forth thing because we both have very opposite strengths and weaknesses. On days I get lazy, or don’t give full effort, Alex hands me my a**. Because of this, those days have started to happen less and less. Alex brought back my love for the daily grind, she put the fun back in the sport even on the most grueling days, and she doesn’t let me get complacent. She is young, she is our energy, she is our sparkplug. You are going to want to keep an eye on her.
Carson in July.
This time of year is special for our community. We all get the oppurtunity to test our fitness on a worldwide level. For every person this means something different – some of us are competitors, some of us are coming back from injury, some first time participants, and some simply want to prove they have put in a year of hard work and are better than they were last year. Wherever you stand on that spectrum, this time of year should mean a lot to you.
There is no doubt it can get hectic and stressful. You have been in class all year, studying material, taking practice tests…. but when it “counts”, it counts! That whole concept can be nerve wracking. As the sport grows, there are more and more “strategy videos” and “tips for success” popping up all over the place during this time of year. As a nutrition coach year round, I thought it would be a fun idea to chime in with some Open Nutrition Strategy each week in hopes to clear up that space in your brain in order to use it on more important aspects of life in March – like perfect lockouts, getting below parallel, and making sure your heels are over that evil piece of tape on the wall.
After the workouts are released on Thursday evening, I will go home and issue a brief update on how I recommend fueling for that week’s particular workout. I will get it posted sometime between the end of the release show and the time I go to bed – which hopefully isn’t too late. In addition to helping you, this will be fun for me, because 1) it will take my mind off of the workout for about as long as it takes me to write the piece, and 2) it will help to hold myself and my team accountable in making sure we are properly fueled each week as well. I will simply add to this blog piece and reissue the link every week (you can also bookmark it if you’re a smarty pants!).
Hopefully, the points I make and recommendations I issue are not that much different than your typical training day nutrition. As my coach and team captain explained yesterday — goals aren’t just attained. You will not be able to just set a goal and then turn around and make it happen. Daily habits performed over periods of time allow goals to be attained. If your nutrition has been completely off leading up to now, it is very probable that your training has been suffering and your biggest goals may be difficult to attain in the next few weeks. There is simply nothing I can recommend to change that. However, if you have been practicing good habits with your nutrition leading up to now, my recommendations should be easy to adjust to and should contribute significantly to you achieving your goals.
Let’s take the stress out of the next couple of weeks. It is a test that we all knew was coming and have all prepared for. Here is to realistic expectations, performing great reps, staying honorable, moving fast, being consistent, having fun. In the end, it is still only exercise.
16.5 Nutrition Strategy
Well, who was expecting that?……. Before I go into nutrition things, I am going to tell a little story about this workout and I – because we have some history in these streets. In 2014, I went to regionals as an individual for the first time. This was still the regular region format (so top 40 qualified from the open). I sat in about 20-25th place for 4 weeks… then 14.5 came. I did it, almost threw up, couldn’t even get through the thrusters unbroken, finished, saw my time, and realized I was going to need to do it again if I wanted to go to regionals – GREAT. Something about being 90% limbs, having incredibly weak legs at the time, and always wanting to sprint out of the gate… didn’t agree much with this workout. My coach had somewhere to be on Monday afternoon, so we decided to do it early, around 8:00 am. I showed up, confident I would improve and went at it. SAME. EXACT. TIME. Realizing I wasn’t about to waste the past 4 weeks effort, I headed into work and sat in a staff meeting with a piece of paper and a pen and wrote down a very specific time map I could follow to insure that I finished under 12:00. I called my training partner at the time, had her meet me at the gym around 2:00 pm and went at it AGAIN – a third time, and twice in the same day! I followed my new plan as much as possible, and finished in 12:26. Over a minute faster than that morning, and the Saturday attempt, and good enough to allow me to finish 42nd in the region and get a regional invite.
SO GO GET EM KIDS! Hope that didn’t scare you!
Okay, now lets get on the topic of nutrition. As far as time domain, this is obviously different for everyone – however we do know the majority of people will be between 10-15 minutes. My recommendation on this one is going to be mostly about balance and timing. It is going to be a similar plan of attack as last week, as we are going to need both an adequate amount of carbs and fat to turn to during this exercise bout.
The day before: Let’s refeed here. You can lower protein slightly, but lets keep fat intake normal (unless you are eating +100g, then decrease by 10g.). Similar to last week, go with a 50-100% increase in carbohydrates depending on the size of human you are (bigger the human, bigger the increase). I cannot explain this enough – on a refeed day before a workout/competition, carb sources should be as clean as possible! We will have plenty to worry about, and enough stress on your body already – we don’t need 100 trips to the bathroom because of an unhappy gut. Suggested carb sources include foods such as fruit, potatoes, rice, quinoa, and granola. Your body will respond well and wake up rested and refueled! Water is always important, but on refeed days it is even more crucial because of your excess intake. Make sure your hydration is a priority.
If you workout in the morning: My morning group is the group that works out after only one meal. I recommend a breakfast of about 25% protein, 45% carbs, 30% fats. – the same as we did last week. Eating about 1.5-2 hours before is optimal however everyone is different with how they feel after eating. This is a workout that can cause Pukey to come around pretty easily, so know your body. However, I wouldn’t ever recommend eating any further away than 2 hours. You are going to want immediate fuel sources available. I will still recommend sipping on juice or sports drinks, as well as lots of water, between wake up and workout. That carb pre-load strategy that we have come to love is still in effect – about 10-20 mins before tip off, I recommend getting some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit!
If you workout in the afternoon: You are in this group if you are going to be eating two meals before doing the most fun workout ever created by Castro. A breakfast about the same size as the morning exercisers will do, with a small change in breakdown: 25% protein, 40% carbs, 35% fats. We want a higher fat meal earlier because we will taper off to higher carbs as the workout gets closer. Some of you larger athletes – both male and female – will need a snack between breakfast and your second meal. I recommend a similar snack as last week (something like a sweet potato topped with Nutella – YES that is a real thing). Your lunch, or second meal, should then be higher in carb and lower in fat than your breakfast, and should look more like 25% protein, 45-50% carbs, 25-30% fats. The main strategy here, as was last week, is to not go into this workout hungry. If we execute a refeed correctly the day before, and follow these guidelines on the day of, all should be going smoothly. Constant hydration should be a priority. Remember both a juice/sports drink as well as plenty of water is most beneficial. As always, carb pre-load strategy, about 20-30 mins before GO, get some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit.
If you workout in the evening: Oh here we are, the last “Friday Night Lights” of the season! At Crossfit Overtake, #TeamDensity usually does the workout in the last few heats, capped off by our men’s trio, and then we all head to Fuddruckers for dinner. I heard a post 16.5 pizza rumor this week though! So I am really looking forward to that. Okay, back to nutrition that will actually fuel your workout….. This FNL group will follow the same plan as the afternoon-ers with the addition of a smaller meal about an hour to an hour and a half before “GO”. Remember that fats should come on hard in the morning and taper throughout the day. Carbohydrates will follow an opposite pattern. Lower percentage of carbs in the morning and it will increase as we get closer to the evening. The smaller meal closest to your workout should hold a ratio of 25% protein, 50% carb, 25% fat. This should be eaten about 1-1.5 hours before you are going live. Leading up to now, you have made sure to stay comfortably fed and hydrated. Keep a fresh source of glycogen available at all times by sipping on juice or sports drink from mid-afternoon until workout time. Of course the same plan here as we have had the entire time so far – the carb pre-load strategy! About 20-30 mins before GO, get some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit.
Intra-workout nutrition: Nothing here y’all. Unless you count sweat, snot, possible puke and or blood as intra-workout fuel, you are not going to have much time to stop for anything here. If someone out there does this workout with a Camelbak filled of juice strapped to them, PLEASE video it and tag @honoryournutrition in it. Maybe I can convince Ashton to do this…….. In any case, this is even more of a reason to stay properly hydrated and fueled the day before and day of the workout. You will not have a good time if you find yourself wishing you were better hydrated halfway through this piece.
Go to work here guys. It is the last week of all of this madness and the last workout to lay it on the line. No matter how the previous 4 weeks have gone for you, put your head down and keep moving. It won’t feel better ’till its over!
Thank you all for tuning in every week and following along. The Open is always a crazy ride and I hope I was able to do my part in providing some assistance for you!
If you enjoyed this help each week and felt it made a difference in your performance, you can explore options as to how I can further help you. I have a few different services that I offer, as well as some informational guides in PDF form. All of this can be found by clicking here: HONOR YOUR NUTRITION ! Head over and check it out.
16.4 Nutrition Strategy
A chipper! Every CrossFitter loves a good chipper. This should be a fun one, but it is going to hurt. It is almost a guarentee that some of you love one of these movements and hate another. Everyone is going to have a different plan of attack and that will be awesome to hear about and watch! I was interested to learn that we were exercising for 13 minutes this week, as I expected something more along the lines of 10 minutes. This nutrition strategy is going to fall more in line with week 1, as it will be of a long (ish) aerobic piece for most athletes. Depending on personal workout strategy, some of you may actually keep it fairly anaerobic and still be able to do pretty well. This will not effect fueling much differently though, and I will mention some small pointers that will help everyone – no matter the energy system your body turns to during week 4 of #stormdeCastro.
The day before: Yes, lets refeed! We are going to follow our basic refeed rules, however I do want to keep a bit more fat in the daily intake than we would on a traditional refeed day. Let’s go with a 50-100% increase in carbohydrates, keep protein the same, and lets keep fat the same – unless you are consuming over 100g of fat daily. If that is the case, lets decrease it by 10g. This should be the group that is on the higher end of the carb increase as well. Remember, it is imperative that on this day we keep with clean carb sources as much as possible. You do not want to feel bloated, heavy, or upset your stomach in doing this refeed. Suggested carb sources include foods such as fruit, potatoes, rice, quinoa, and granola. Your body will respond well and wake up rested and refueled for the workout. Water is always important, but on refeed days it is even more crucial. Make sure your hydration is a priority.
If you workout in the morning: Morning group is the group that works out after their first meal. I recommend a breakfast of about 25% protein, 45% carbs, 30% fats. It would be smart to eat about two hours to an hour and a half before this workout. You want some immediate fuel sources available, however eating a full meal too close to this one will be a bad idea. I will still recommend sipping on juice or sports drinks, as well as lots of water, between wake up and workout. Keeping with our carb pre-load theme from the previous weeks – about 10-20 mins before tip off, I recommend getting some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit!
If you workout in the afternoon: This group is the group that is going to be eating two meals before exercise racing. A breakfast about the same size as the morning exercisers will do, however the breakdown should look more like 25% protein, 40% carbs, 35% fats. Some of the larger humans out there will need a snack between breakfast and your second meal. For those athletes, I recommend a similar snack as last week (something like an apple and 1/2 Tbsp of almond butter). Your lunch, or second meal should then be a bit higher in carb and lower in fat than your breakfast and should look more like 25% protein, 45% carbs, 30% fats. The main strategy here, as was last week, is to not be hungry going into this workout. It would be responsible to continuously fuel your body from the minute you wake up. Constant hydration both with some kind of juice/sports drink as well as plenty of water is also key. As always, carb pre-load strategy, about 20-30 mins before GO, get some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit.
If you workout in the evening: My “Friday Night Lights” crew! I am in this group with you, and I have to admit it took me three weeks to really get comfortable. Daily, I train around 11am… fairly soon after having breakfast. It was a huge adjustment for me to figure out how my body would best handle nutrition all day when I was asked to be at optimal performance at 6:30pm – something so far off my normal routine. Some personal trial and error always makes for great learning. I am sure by now you all have learned what your best practices are and hopefully all of my tips have helped guide you. This group will follow the same plan as the afternoon-ers with the addition of a smaller meal about an hour to an hour and a half before “GO”. That smaller meal should hold a ratio of 25% protein, 50% carb, 25% fat. We want to make sure we are comfortably fed all day and are not hungry at any point. Stay hydrated and keep a fresh reserve of glycogen available at all times (sip juice or sports drink) throughout the day. Of course the same plan here as we have had the entire time so far. The carb pre-load strategy! About 20-30 mins before GO, get some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit.
Intra-workout nutrition: Last week I told you there was no time for this, and all of you that performed 16.3 understood what I meant. Anytime during those 7 minutes that you weren’t working cost you significantly. This week is going to be a bit different. There is going to be time for some intra carbs, and I recommend they be in liquid form. For my higher level athletes that plan on making it through an entire round, or fairly close, I would say the time for this is right after the row. We saw the Sara and Katrin get off the row right under 8 minutes. That is about the time I suggest taking in these carbs. It works out in the flow of the workout as well, as it is almost a guarentee that the majority of athletes will all be coming off the wall during HSPU and will have to stand there for some period of time to rest. Have a bottle handy with some carbs! For those of you who are just hoping to get TO the HSPU, I suggest having your refuel station available mid wall ball, or on the transition from wall ball to row. In any case, this should be a quick, easily accessible refuel that happens while rest in happening. You should not be breaking your workout for the purpose of refueling.
I try and stay indifferent about the workouts until it is time for me to perform them, so I don’t want to say I like or dislike this workout. It is classic CrossFit though, and when we get to CrossFit it is always fun. Thats why we are here! Keep those midlines tight, embrace weaknesses, and demolish strengths. Let’s prove those abs are not just for show!
16.3 Nutrition Strategy
Week 3 and we FINALLY get something short and sweet! Also, for a third week in a row we see a movement that has never been in the open before. This is fun, and really pretty simple on the nutrition side. Your time to shine is only a quick 7 minutes this week so we need to make sure we are fueled and ready to go. Athletically, we can compare this to a mile test. That is how I will recommending fueling as well. It will be similar to last weeks talk about making sure carbohydrates are plentiful, as your muscles will want to tap into every available bit of glycogen to keep blood sugar levels stable and keep you moving. To do well in this workout, you will need to use every bit of energy that can be yield from your glycolytic system – however, we don’t want to get there too fast. The ideal situation would be staying in an aerobic state, until the end when you are ready to “burn it down”. As we learned from week one, aerobic exercise runs predominantly off energy yield from fats – below I will explain how to have a good balance of both!
The day before: Definitely a refeed day here yall! Stick with clean carb sources as much as possible. You do not want to feel bloated or heavy, or upset your stomach in doing this refeed. Suggested carb sources include foods such as fruit, potatoes, rice, quinoa, and granola. As we learned last week, refeeding takes a normal day’s worth of carbs and increase by 50-100% depending on the size of human you are. Different coaches have different opinions on protein intake on refeed days. Some like to keep protein the same, others like to decrease it anywhere from 10-25g. For the sake of strength, recovery, and the Open season, I would recommend keeping protein the same as usual. Water is always important, but on refeed days it is even more crucial. Make sure your hydration is a priority.
If you workout in the morning: Morning group is the group that works out after their first meal. I recommend a breakfast of about 25% protein, 50% carbs, 25% fats. You aren’t going to want to eat anything very heavy too soon before this one, so I would reccomend this breakfast about 2 hours before. If you go any further away than that, your immediate fuel sources will be dwindling. I do recommend sipping on juice or gatorade, as well as lots of water between wake up and workout. As has become a theme for previous weeks now – about 10-20 mins before tip off, I recommend getting some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit!
If you workout in the afternoon: You belong in this group if you are going to be eating two meals before doing the workout. A breakfast about the same size as the morning exercisers will do, however the breakdown should look more like 30% protein, 40% carbs, 30% fats. Some of my larger humans will need a snack between here and your next meal. For those, I recommend a similar snack as last week (something like a sweet potato with 1/2 Tbsp of Peanut butter). Your second meal should then be significantly higher in carb and lower in fat than your breakfast and should look more like 25% protein, 50% carbs, 25% fats. The idea is to not be hungry going into this workout. Make sure you are continuously fueling your body – both with some kind of juice/sports drink as well as plenty of water. As always, same pre-workout carb strategy as above, about 20-30 mins before GO, get some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit.
If you workout in the evening: This is the group who has time for 3 meals before they workout. This is the group that seems to be most common, as most gyms are following this “Friday Night Lights” format. Lets follow the afternoon-ers plan with the addition of a smaller meal about an hour to an hour and a half before “GO”. That smaller meal should hold a ratio of 25% protein, 55% carb, 20% fat. Key concept this week is – stay fully fueled at all times. You will need that reserve of glycogen to tap into some gametime. Of course the same plan here as we have had the entire time so far. Our pre-workout carb strategy that we have for every group so far is… about 20-30 mins before GO, get some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit.
Intra-workout nutrition: I think this goes without saying, but there will be NO time to fuel during this 7 minutes. Some of you may have a hard time finding time to breathe! Get fueled, hydrated, and ready to go well in advance and exercise your little hearts out for 7 minutes straight.
This will be a very different feeling than the past two weeks, and gives us the chance to have fun with some new movements. Be smooth, be calm, don’t stop moving!
16.2 Nutrition Strategy
The second week of the open, and the possibility of a second week of 20 minutes of exercise! Touche Dave. But, for the majority of humans, it will not last that long. This workout is interesting metabolically. You will be asked to go the distance but as those weights get heavier they will require some quick outbursts of max intensity. This points all arrows at CARBS! Carbohydrates are going to be the big rockstar this weekend as our bodies are going to need plenty of glycogen stores to tap into in order for us to be able to explode at max effort… after we have already been swinging on bars and jumping up and down for all the minutes. For the minority, this workout will go long enough to eventually tap into that Kreb’s Cycle. The majority will be fighting to survive through Glycolysis, a system fueled through blood glucose (SUGAR!) and muscle glycogen…. glucose’s stored form. This does not mean ignore fat intake completely, but we need to understand that we MUST NOT be short on carbs this weekend.
If you are confused in ANY way where carbohydrates are actually found, do some research. Cookies, cakes, donuts, pizza – those are not “carbs”. They are high caloric foods which are high in both carbs AND fats. Carbohydrates that are low in fats are the kind of foods I am referring to in this piece.
Because this blog is progressive, I am going to work with the idea that the same audience is reading week to week. If something is repetitive from a previous week, I am not going to restate it. I will explain that it is repetitive and have you refer back to a previous week.
The day before: This would be a great day to refeed. When we refeed, we take a normal day’s worth of carbs and increase by 50-100% depending on the size of human. In addition to the carb increase, we will lower fat anywhere from 10-15g. Different coaches have different opinions on protein intake on refeed days. Some like to keep protein the same, others like to decrease it anywhere from 10-25g. For the sake of strength, recovery, and the Open season, I would recommend keeping protein the same as usual. As I mentioned last week, this is not a time to be short on calories. Pay attention to your eating habits the day before your workout as it will carry over and directly effect how you feel. As always -clean, nutrient dense, carbohydrate sources should be the priority. Carbohydrate sources high in sugars should be consumed in moderation. Drink plenty of water, as hydration is always cruical.
If you workout in the morning: Remember, this is the group that works out after their first meal. I am going to adjust the recommended breakfast intake to about 30% protein, 45-50% carbs, 20-25% fats. For those of you who expect to get through 12 minutes with the barbell being relatively light still, I recommend using the higher fat ratio. For those of you who know the 3rd barbell is going to require close to maximal attempts, use the lower fat ratio. As we discussed last week – about 20-30 mins before tip off, I recommend getting some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit (I got some gummy bear feedback from some of you last week! LOVED IT!).
If you workout in the afternoon: My afternoon group are those of you who will be working out late enough to have to eat two meals before you swing, jump, and barbell. A breakfast about the same size as the morning exercisers will do, however the breakdown should look more like 35% protein, 35% carbs, 30% fats. Some of my larger humans will need a snack between here and your next meal. For those, I recommend something like a sweet potato with 1/2 Tbsp of Peanut butter. Your second meal should then be higher in carb and lower in fat than your breakfast and should look more like 30% protein, 45-50% carbs, 20-25% fats (same explanation on choosing which way to go as above). Of course, same pre-workout carb strategy as above, about 20-30 mins before GO, get some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit.
If you workout in the evening: Lets follow the afternoon exerciser plan with the addition of a smaller meal about an hour to an hour and a half before gametime. That meal should hold a ratio of 25% protein, 50% carb, 25% fat ratio, but be a bit smaller in size than your first two meals. Like I mentioned last week, the most important thing for the evening exercise group is that you are not hungry all day. If you are going in hungry, your energy levels are going to take a hit when it comes time to go hard. My personal strategy when I workout in the evening is to push my first meal, or breakfast, back about an hour or so later than I would normally eat. This doesn’t work for everyone, however I find it allows me to eat the majority of my food closer to the end of the day when I will be using it most. Yes, you guessed it! We will be applying the same pre-workout carb strategy that we have for every group the past two week (and probably will for the duration of this strategy piece). About 20-30 mins before GO, get some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit.
Intra-workout nutrition: Last week I didn’t recommend anything here because there was just no time to be wasted. That was a workout where any stop in movement cost you on the leaderboard. This week is a bit different. For a handful of you, make or break reps will come after standing around for a bit between heavy cleans. My suggestion is to keep something close by that is easy to access and is high in simple sugar. My best suggestion here is juice, gatorade, or some kind of small sugary candy like gummy bears or jelly beans (however I don’t love the idea of wasting time chewing between reps). Sugar in liquid form will be your best bet and will do wonders for maximal output under fatigue.
This workout will be a lot of fun, and will be very different for every athlete. Because of this, nutrition for every athlete will be somewhat different as well. I have vaguely covered when and why you should use certain strategies depending on the type of athlete you are. Do your best to apply these strategies to your personal understanding of yourself as an athlete and how your body functions in relationship to certain nutrition strategies. Lift all the heavy bars out there, and drink some apple juice along the way!
16.1 Nutrition Strategy
As soon as I sat at my computer to start this, I was reminded how much of a nerd I am and how much I wanted to go off on a tangent about a ton of exercise science madness about energy systems and the proper fueling for each system and purpose behind it. Although interesting (to me), this is not the place for that each week as I would like this to be fairly short, to the point – and APPLICABLE. Not just a ramble of science.
As you all have figured out by now, 16.1 is an aerobic workout. This means first and foremost it is a workout requiring optimal oxygen uptake. So, BREATHE! Because of the aerobic nature of this workout, your body is going to be running in the Oxidative Energy System (also known as the Kreb’s Cycle) for the majority of the time. The other two energy systems (ATP-PC system and Glycolysis) that are primary utilized in short burst, high intensity workouts require carbohydrates as their main fuel source. When we exercise, a shift from those two systems into the Kreb’s Cycle can happen anywhere from 3-8 minutes in (depending on threshold of the individual). It is important to understand that as activity becomes longer in duration (like 16.1) and we spend more time in the Kreb’s Cycle, our bodies will shift from the use of carbohydrates as the main fuel source, to the use of fats. If fats are not easily accessible for use, our bodies will have a hard time efficently fueling past the aerobic threshold and performance will suffer. This is not a time where I would recommend a refeed (high carb, low fat) day before or on game day. This is a workout that is going to require a great balance of both carbohydrates and fats as energy.
So, what does this mean for an athlete about to take on 16.1?
The day before: The main thing here is going to be making sure you get ample calories in the day before you take on 16.1. Now is not a time to under eat! If you are currently following macro numbers, I suggest increasing your carbs by 25-60g for the day, and fats by about 8-12g (this will vary by size of athlete). Although an increase in fats and carbs may look like an invitation for a few more donuts and cupcakes, hold off from that until after. It would be wise to stay with clean, whole, nutrient dense food sources leading up to this workout. There is a lot to be said for the acute, negative effects of processed foods on performance. If I had to recommend a dinner for 16.1 eve, it would be a nice 4-8oz lean cut steak (varying on the size of human you are) with a side of 100-300g of potato (same variance) and a fancy spinach salad (eat your iron!). Hydration is going to be HUGE here as it always is – work toward that gallon!
If you workout in the morning: By “morning” I am referring to those working out after only their first meal. I recommend having breakfast about 2.5 hours before you are set to “3..2..1..GO”. Be a responsible athlete and get up with enough time to accommodate this and get your day going correctly. Your breakfast should be about 30% protein, 40% carbs, 30% fats. This will give you a relatively bigger meal and a solid source of fuel for your body to tap into. About 20-30 mins before tip off, I recommend getting some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit.
If you workout in the afternoon: I will refer to afternoon as late enough to have to eat two meals before #StormDeCastro. In this case, I recommend a breakfast of about the same size as the morning exercisers, however I would recommend a slightly different breakdown. Because this group has a bit more time before GO, it would make sense to have a breakfast with a breakdown of about 35% protein, 30% carbs, 35% fats. Depending on how late in the “afternoon” you are going, you may need a snack between here and second meal. If that is the case, I recommend a bar with a similar macro breakdown to that of an RX Bar (12p/23c/9f). Your second meal should look more like 30% protein, 45% carbs, 25% fats – as you have already had a higher fat meal earlier. Same pre workout carb strategy as above, about 20-30 mins before GO, get some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit.
If you workout in the evening: Here I reccomend following a similar plan to the afternoon exercisers, while adding another smaller meal about an hour and a half before GO. That meal should carry a pretty standard 30% protein, 40% carb, 30% fat ratio, but be a bit smaller in size than your first two meals. The most important concept in this group is to understand that it is crucial we do not go into this workout hungry. Twenty minutes is a long time and your body is going to need reserve fuel sources to tap into – especially fats. If you are going in hungry, your energy levels are going to take a hit. Everyone is different, and as an athlete you should understand what portions will be most beneficial to you in this situation. As with the first two groups, use the pre workout carb strategy – about 20-30 mins before GO, get some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit.
As for “intra-workout” nutrition, I really do not recommend it here, even with the long duration. This is a 20 minute piece where you should go in and do nothing but lunge, burpee, and pullup until the clock beeps. Fuel properly beforehand and you will not have to stop to take a sip from your shaker bottle. That being said, if you are someone who is prone to getting lightheaded or feeling weak during workouts (email me if this is the case, because it should not happen) then I would suggest having a shaker nearby with some juice in it for easy access to a quick carb source.
Through this whole series, it is important to remember that nutrition is a very individualized process. What works for some people may not work for others. Some people generally respond better to carbohydrates, and some to fats – there are many factors that contribute to that. Now is really not the time to try something completely different from your normal routine. Finding the best gameday nutrition practices for you will be an ongoing process. These strategy tips should simply be some education on what your body is going through during the workout and get you thinking how to properly fuel yourself to perform at your best. Have fun out there y’all! See you next week!
Sometimes when you look at a nutrition program, it can seem to be a daunting task to tackle as a whole. I hear many reasons as to why people are finding it hard to commit to a particular program. Often, macro calculation, nutrient timing, carb and fat blocks, etc., can be difficult concepts to grasp all at once. Following a flexible nutrition program and figuring out this huge game of “food Tetris” doesn’t have to be so overwhelming. As your coach and supporter I am here to help! I have come up with some handy tips to try and help you out… particularly in those beginning stages.
- Cows & Chickens Can Be Friends!
When you buy ground beef, try to opt for 93/7 beef (93% lean/7% fat). However, even the leanest beef still tends to carry more fat content than a quality brand of ground chicken. It is hard for me to tell my clients to cook only with ground chicken, because it can be so dry and flavorless! This is why I recommend “half and half” creations, where we mix lean beef and chicken in the same dish or recipe! Try and keep it even. For example, if making “half and half burgers”, take 16oz of 93/7 beef and 16oz of ground chicken, mix them together, season them, then separate them into eight 4oz patties that you can easily grill up on a bar-b-que, or simply pan sear right in your kitchen! This brings the fat content down per serving while still allowing you to enjoy a nice juicy burger!
- Fat Free Cream Cheese For The Win!
Fat free and low fat dairy products can sometimes be a saving grace. Lets talk about cream cheese, a product made with skim milk which eliminates the fat carried by its “regular” counterpart. You can use fat free cream cheese in places you never would have imagined to make anything a bit creamier! My favorite spot to add some cream cheese is in potatoes. Whether you prefer sweet potatoes, or white potatoes, adding in some fat free cream cheese after they have been mashed and warmed up is a great way to make them a bit smoother and creamier (just like grandma’s)! For extra zing and flavor, add in some cinnamon or pumpkin spice (it’s the season right?)…your taste buds will thank you later!
- Don’t Complicate Your Veggies!
We can all agree that vegetables are much better served fresh, rather than frozen. But, stop making cooking so complicated! Vegetables cook relatively fast in the oven (anywhere from 10-25 minutes at 325 degrees). They also stay just fine in the fridge for about 4-6 days at a time – plenty of time for you to eat your way through them. So, lets be efficient – cook a large amount (as much as you can fit on 2-3 baking sheets) of them at the same time. Take a baking sheet out, line it with foil, clean and cut the veggies, spray with some cooking spray, season, insert into the oven and put the timer on. In minutes you will have fresh, cooked veggies that will last you the whole week. If you are a fan of the “charred” veggie – switch the oven to broil for the last few minutes!
- Carb’s Favorite Activity is Exercise!
Rule of thumb here is to try and keep 70-75% of you daily carb allotment around your exercise time. If you are a morning exerciser, you should begin consuming carbs with breakfast and taper off throughout the day. If you are an evening exerciser, your mornings should consist of mainly protein and fats – while waiting to incorporate carbs in more volume toward the end of your day. Lets also not forget that consuming carbs before bed time is actually beneficial to rest and recovery of damaged (growing and strengthening) muscle tissues. If you find yourself at the end of the day with some carbs left in the bank – don’t be afraid to use them on something fun!
- If You Mess Up, You’re Just Like the Rest of Us!
Nobody is perfect. If you fall off track or aren’t successful following your plan one day, it is okay. Life will go on! A common theme I hear is people explaining that they knew they had already missed their daily macros and decided to have a “free for all day” and eat/drink everything in sight until their stomach hurt. We need to understand that a messed up day of macro calculating doesn’t need to turn into a scene from 300 with food. One meal, or even day, will not be the end of the world. As a competitive athlete, or an aspiring athlete, we need to eat responsibly – even when we fall off plan a bit. That is totally normal and will happen sometimes when life gets in the way. Do not let it carry on, get right back on track the next day with your numbers. There is no need to “undercut” or under consume to “make up for it”. Just do it right today.
Remember, registration for the first round of GridShape ends October 21st, so CLICK HERE to head over and sign up to secure your spot!