If you haven’t been under a rock, then you have heard about or even seen the sport of Crossfit. This fitness phenomenon has swept the nation giving regular everyday people the chance to train in a performance driven environment while preparing them for the unknown and unknowable. Many people have taken the gospel of crossfit as law and there have been marketing schemes that have made tons of money from crossfit enthusiasts due to lack of knowledge. While injury in crossfit is prevalent and can be due to a number of factors, the nutrition program sponsored by crossfit has been detrimental to athletes and there is a disconnect in how the competitors of the sport fuel themselves compared to crossfit enthusiasts.
The Paleo diet has been popularized by crossfit and the premise of the diet is to adopt the fueling patterns of ancient people. Rob Wolff states that “The Paleo diet is the healthiest way you can eat because it is the ONLY nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic! Research in biology, biochemistry, Ophthalmology, Dermatology and many other disciplines indicate it is our modern diet, full of refined foods, trans fats and sugar, that is at the root of degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression and infertility”.
While some of his claims hold validity, Wolff forgets that Crossfit is a PERFORMANCE based training program and sport. In order to perform you have to have energy, and the paleo diet is lacking the number one source you need to perform your best. This source my friend is CARBS. YES……….. YES carbohydrates. “The roles of carbohydrate in the body includes providing energy for working muscles, providing fuel for the central nervous system, enabling fat metabolism, and preventing protein from being used as energy. Carbohydrate is the preferred source of energy or fuel for muscle contraction and biologic work.” The RIGHT carbs, which are complex and take time to digest such as rice, sweet potatoes, and various grains, is the coal to your steam engine of a body.
Without the presence of carbs you will begin to feel sluggish, be at risk for ketosis (which is an abnormal amount of ketones in the bloodstream) and most importantly you will be less alert. Since Crossfit is nothing more than taking very good attributes from various sports, it would seem that the nutrition patterns of top athletes in these sports should have been adopted too right?
So What REALLY Happens Then?
If you are confused as to why the top athletes in crossfit look starkly different compared to the thousands of enthused participants of the sport, I have an idea and NO it is not steroids. (Although everyone wants to go straight to the “juice”). What happens is that while crossfit supports the paleo diet but the competitors for the most part have a completely different diet that consists of a ton of carbs, which are not bad, but help these athletes have the energy to perform at a high level. You will see athletes although the names consume large amounts of peanut butter sandwiches, rice, and even bad carbs such as donuts, sweet cereal and even fries to ensure that they are fueled for their competition. Now this doesn’t mean to scrap your diet and head to the nearest burger king, cut it shows that carbs play a huge role in how you perform and gives you the energy to perform.
Side Note- When you are in a constant fatigued state, as the sport of crossfire perpetuates, there is a technique breakdown in performance. This can and has lead to serious injury within the sport. Understand that what you put in your body is vitally important to your performance and health!!
While protein and fats are extremely good for the human body, their primary role is to aid in recovery from training- not to fuel training. Only when you have a surplus of carbs will you begin to gain unwanted weight, and as a crossfitter that will be difficult given that you train frequently. If you have been on the paleo diet, add a few sweet potatoes in the mix and watch how better you improve. Just a little food for thought.
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