Ah, summertime. The season of swimsuit weekends and shirtless WODs. Have you heard the joke, “Your quarantine diet would probably be a bit different if you wore a swimsuit, instead of wearing sweatpants all day?”
The hot topic of conversation the last few weeks seems to be one of the two scenarios: I am so much healthier cooking my own meals at home. Or…. I have 24/7 access to my pantry and have recently taken up baking as a hobby. Banana bread, anyone?
During times of stress our bodies create more of the hormone Cortisol, which increases appetite. Think of this as your paleolithic ancestors fight-or-flight response. In times of stress let’s stuff our faces because soon matters might be scarce, and we need to ensure we don’t starve to death. The moral of the story here? Listening to your body’s natural hunger cues during an unprecedented pandemic might be causing you to gain a few extra pounds.
Enter the solution: Here’s what to eat! Let’s start with this… Eating a diet of whole, unprocessed foods will provide the most nutrients for your body to thrive.
How do I build a meal? Include these components:
Protein builds and repairs muscles and connective tissues. Feeling sore from that WOD? Increase your protein a bit. Protein also requires more energy to digest and has a suppressive effect on appetite. Athletes require more protein than the average sedentary adult. Protein sources include meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, tofu, etc.
Carbohydrates fuel your brain and body. Healthy carb options include fruits, root vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes. Humans evolved eating a varied and seasonal diet. Choose a wide variety of colors of fruits, and buy grains and legumes from bulk bins to save money.
Fats are required for hormone production and repair our brain and nervous systems. Some healthy fat options include avocados, olives, nuts and nut butters, coconut, and unrefined oils from these sources.
Veggies provide filling fiber and a wide variety of nutrients. For optimal nutrient density and lowest prices, eat foods that are in season. Roadside produce stands are a great example of what is fresh and local.
How much do I eat? Get a plate and add the following:
Protein: Start with one to two palm sized servings. Big hands equal more caloric needs. Tiny hands need fewer. Some meals you might want one palm, sometimes two. For those of you that love to log your food, shoot for 25% to 30% of calories from protein.
Carbohydrates: A cupped handful is one serving. A whole piece of fruit is generally this size. Our bodies can only use so much at a time, so try to space these servings throughout for optimal energy and blood sugar regulation.
Fats: Thumbs are the visual measurement for a serving of fat. Stack those walnuts next to your thumb. Got it? If you prefer to weigh or measure your portions, shoot for around 100 calories per serving. Examples might be a 1/3 of an avocado, or a tablespoon of peanut butter or butter/oil.
Veggies: Make a fist and that is your visual for veggies. Each meal should have at least one serving of veggies, for an average total of about four per day.
Now that you have your next meal mentally designed, let’s talk tips for success:
Chew your food thoroughly for optimum digestion and nutrient absorption. Try 30 chews per bite.
If you are trying to lose weight, eat until you are 80% full. Don’t overeat, because then later you’ll have to under eat, and nobody likes to do that.
Eat a variety of foods for a variety of nutrients. Think colors of the rainbow on your plate.
Eat what you like. Hate brussels sprouts but love asparagus? Perfect, eat the asparagus. Maybe cauliflower makes your tummy all gurgly. Skip it and try zucchini instead.
Don’t forget the salt. Athletes that are eating whole unprocessed foods still need the minimum sodium intake for optimal hydration. The RDA recommendation for the average adult is 1 teaspoon of salt a day. But you are not average. You are a badass Crossfitter and it is summer in San Diego! Increased water intake means you also need to increase your electrolytes.
There is no one perfect diet for everyone. Just because your best friend loves (insert fad diet here) doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Listen to your body.
We hope you learned something today. Looking for more? Shoot us an email with a question and be featured in an upcoming article.
Certified Nutrition Coach
Certified CrossFit Trainer-L1