Today, we are going to look at our top 3 tips to optimise your training, performance and body composition.
These tips are in order of importance and what we have found from our experience that make the biggest impact on you achieving your goals. Start with Step 1 before even considering Steps 2 or 3.
1) Food Quality
As Maria mentioned in her previous blog post, we advocate a 'Paleo' framework. While you can read all about our framework in her post, in short, this means cutting out the junk in your diet. Foods that are high in sugar, chemicals, additives and other nasties brought about by processing can wreak havoc on your body's hormonal system. Why does our hormonal system matter? It is what drives many (if not all) processes in the body, especially when it comes to controlling blood sugar, energy regulation and fat storage.
Combined with being one of the most effective methods for feeling awesome, crushing training and shedding some unwanted body fat, cleaning up your nutrition with a Paleo framework is the 'easiest' of our three points to implement. You don't have to stress too much about hitting specific calorie goals or macronutrient targets, just eat healthy-sized portions of whole, natural and real foods and cut out the junk.
2) Daily Caloric Intake
Calories matter. If your goal is to gain weight/muscle you have to eat, a lot! This is usually a calorie number more than the calories you churn through in your day-to-day activities and training sessions. Conversely, if you want to lose weight/fat you need to eat less, and this generally has to be at a deficit of your maintenance level of calories. Be mindful that this must be a controlled increase/decrease in calories. Gorging on food and taking in too much will lead to 'bad' weight gain (read: fat), and a drastic calorie reduction will often lead to a stall in weight loss, poor performance in the gym and even metabolic dysfunction (read: bad news bears).
There is conflicting information out there regarding the importance of calories, but we know it is not as simple as 'calories in vs calories out'.
The human body is not a predictable machine and there are countless internal and external variables involved in how our bodies operate. This helps to explain why calories cannot be balanced like your bank account, and why people never seem to gain or lose weight precisely as calculated by calorie targets.
To further elaborate, let's say two people eat the exact same meal of 2 large slices of meat feast pizza with a mixed salad and washed back with a bottle of beer, followed by a slice of cheesecake. One is a 28 year old female who trains CrossFit 5 days a week CrossFit, has a body fat of 18% and eats 'clean' every day of the week (this meal is her 'cheat meal'). Our second person is a 55 year old male who is overweight, has a body fat of 30%, spends all day sat behind a desk, does little to no exercise and eats processed food every single day. These two individuals will process the same meal in two very different ways, despite it being the same number of calories and macronutrients.
Remember that food quality comes first (see point 1). It's pointless having a calorie target if you get 2500 daily calories from McDonalds, Haribo's and beer.
3) Macronutrient breakdown
This refers to the breakdown of your daily calories into grams of protein, carbohydrate and fat. Altering these numbers can have a large impact on body composition and performance.
Protein is commonly referred to as 'the building block of muscle'. Protein is used to rebuild and repair muscle tissue during stages of recovery and to keep our bodies functioning. You mostly hear people talking about how much protein they have, or how many shakes they can smash down. In reality most of us only need around 1 g per lb of bodyweight. Even if you want to gain muscle, more protein is not really going to make a difference.
Carbohydrates are the fuel for higher intensity activities, and its intake helps replenish tough workouts and also helps signal to cells to use ingested protein to build/repair muscle tissue. As such, some experts say that carbohydrates actually play a more important role in the muscle-building process than protein. If you do lots of high intensity training (like CrossFit), you need more carbohydrates than those who do low level activities (walking etc), but the exact number can differ from person to person depending on their size, activity levels, tolerance etc.
Our last macronutrient is fat. Every single cell in our bodies is partly composed of fat and they are involved in many of the processes in our body. Thus, fat is vital for proper health and function of our hormones. For most of us we need between 60-120g per day, again differing depending on size, goals, training etc.
There a few other factors which we do consider important when it comes to training for performance, or trying to reach body composition goals, such as
- Meal and macronutrient timing
But none of these compare to 'bang for buck' compared to eating clean, calorie intake and macronutrient breakdown.
So if you ever ask me about 'the best protein shake to have post-workout', I will reply by asking if you have our top 3 nutrition tips nailed down. If you don't have these nailed, you are throwing away your money on unnecessary supplements. These big 3 nutrition tips are going to get the majority of people closer to their performance and body composition goals.
WORKOUT OF THE DAY
CrossFit Open 13.1
As many reps in 17 mins as you can of:
30 Snatches (35/20 kg)
30 Snatches (60/35 kg)
30 Snatches (75/45 kg)
AMRAP Snatch (95/55 kg)