We all want to look better naked, so we joined a gym and thought that was the answer. However, most people don’t realize the power lies in our food choices. When we compare exercise and nutrition in terms of their impact on physique, we find training only accounts for roughly 20% of our total body composition. Meaning the majority of our physique is directly dependent on our food choices and eating habits. Nutrition is your primary answer for aesthetic goals, responsible for 80% of your body composition at a molecular basis.
The underlying quality of AllSport CrossFit has a much bigger impact on a person’s long term fitness and health than simply looking good naked. Plenty of lean people in weight-loss programs may still develop diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol because they are consuming poor food choices. Our goal to look good naked is merely a wonderful bonus to priceless benefits like prevention (and, in due case, reversal) of lifestyle disease, optimum gastrointestinal health and long term fitness/wellness.
We recommend introducing delicious “Primal” and “Paleo” foods into your lifestyle, using simple techniques to moderate the quality and quantity of food you enjoy. You can still improve your body without sacrificing your life for a diet. By-the-way, Paleo is not the only answer if you are entirely opposed to giving up certain foods. You can still adjust your non-Paleo diet to achieve results. However, Paleo has proven the best results for both body composition and performance thus far with the rigors of CrossFit training. In some cases, highly active people can experience chronic fatigue and weight gain if the quality and quantity of calories are poor and/or imbalanced. This phenomenon may even occur when eating a Paleo specific diet. While Paleo foods are nutrient dense and the best to aid in recovery, they need be hormonally balanced and include proven ratios of proteins, fats and carbohydrates – we recommend a 40-30-30 Zone ratio of carbohydrates-fat-protein. Eating balanced, hormonally-conscious meals is critical to sustain high performance.
There are also some products and supplements that may aid in your fitness journey.
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WATER IS THE SINGLE MOST CRITICAL NUTRIENT
The human brain is composed of 95% water; blood is 82% water; the lungs are nearly 90% water. Water is also the single most critical nutrient for health, growth, and development. It is not only the most important nutrient in the body, but also the most abundant. Water is critical to the balance of all the body’s systems, including the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys and muscles.
How important is this balance? A 2% drop in body water can cause a small but critical shrinkage of the brain, which can impair neuromuscular coordination, decrease concentration, and slow thinking. Dehydration can also reduce endurance, decrease strength, cause cramping, and slow muscular response.
Mild dehydration is also one of the most common causes of daytime fatigue. How common a problem is this in the United States? Estimates are that 75% of Americans have mild, chronic dehydration. This is alarming since proper hydration is required for maintaining healthy blood flow, proper kidney function, proper sodium/potassium /electrolyte balance and proper digestive functions.
WATER AND ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE
Many people are unaware of how water affects performance. Even being slightly dehydrated can cause poor performance, and it’s often overlooked. Improper hydration can result in muscle cramping, decreased strength and reduced endurance, severely impeding athletic performance.
Dehydration can also cost you muscle, since it can negatively impact muscular growth and recovery. “High-intensity activities, like sprinting and weightlifting, suffer in response to poor hydration” says Dr. Wildman. Limiting fluid intake has been shown to reduce power output, increase rates of fatigue, and increase the risk for injuries.2,3
A study out of the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that when participants lost 3 percent of their body weight in water, overall resistance exercise performance was impaired. Participants were not able to complete as many repetitions, had higher ratings of perceived exertion, and experienced delayed heart rate recovery, meaning it took longer for their heart rate to return to normal.4
Researchers at the University of Connecticut found similar results when they examined the impact of dehydration on resistance training. They found that a 2.5 percent decrease in body weight led to significantly less work being completed during multiple sets of back squats.5
By the time you are thirsty, your body is already dehydrated. Once dehydrated endurance is diminished, strength can drop, and the effect can last into the following day(s). Instead of relying on a signal, drink water at regular intervals regardless if you’re thirsty or not.
COMMON CAUSES OF WATER LOSS
- Caffeine/alcohol consumption (diuretics)
- Increased Stress
- Hot environments; increased sweating
- Increased physical activity (water loss from sweating)
OTHER REASONS TO INCREASE WATER INTAKE
- Large food intake (common to bodybuilders)
- Increasing intake of vitamins, minerals. Increased sodium consumption; water intake may help the body excrete sodium and excess water
HOW MUCH WATER IS LOST DURING NORMAL BODY FUNCTIONING?
The average amount of water lost per day includes:
- 16 ounces through respiration (average)
- 16 ounces through invisible perspiration (more if sweat is visible)
- 48 ounces through elimination
HOW MUCH WATER IS ENOUGH?
It is suggested that the average person—who is fairly inactive—requires a minimum of 8-to-12 cups of water per day. However, this amount is far too low for bodybuilders and other active people. Active people need much more to replace the fluid lost during exercise.
Depending on your size and perspiration rate, you lose about four cups of water per hour of exercise. If you are working out in a mild climate, you are probably losing about 1/2 gallon of water through perspiration.
The Importance of Choosing Quality Organic Produce into your Paleo Menu
The Paleo diet is the ideal diet to complement the CrossFit lifestyle, and also, according to recent studies, more effective for weight loss than low-fat diets. One recent study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (September 2014) compared both regimens and found that low carbohydrate diets are more efficient at lowering cardiovascular risk factors. CrossFitters know that the Paleo diet can be distinguished from other (stricter) diets, which limit the daily carbohydrate count to little more than zero. Paleo is ultimately about eating what feels natural, obtaining our energy giving carbs from nuts, a few optional fruits and lots of vegetables. The question is – to what extent is it important to purchase organic-only produce? Do organics have real, measurable differences in terms of the nutrients they provide?
Researchers have been at odds about the ultimate value of organic produce, yet a recent study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition (BJN), debunked two previous studies which indicated that there was no measurable difference between organic and conventionally grown produce in terms of nutritional value. The new study, involving an analysis of 343 peer-reviewed publications, show that there are statistically significant, meaningful differences in the composition of organic vs non-organic foods. Most importantly, organic produce contained substantially higher levels of antioxidants such a polyphenolics, and significantly higher levels of phenolic acids, flavanones, stilbenes, flavones, flavonols and anthocyanins.
These antioxidant compounds may sound rather exotic, yet they are important allies in staving off disease and premature ageing. They have been linked to a reduced risk of a number of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease and some types of cancer. They work by interacting with and neutralizing free radicals (the latter are highly reactive chemicals with the ability to harm cells.
Free radicals are created when an atom or molecule loses or gains an electron; at high levels, they can interfere with proteins, DNA, and cell membranes, causing cancer and other serious diseases). They are derived either from normal essential metabolic processes in the body, or from exposure to pollution, cigarette smoke, and certain chemicals. Interestingly, exercise, too, can result in the formation of free radicals; however, the free radicals produced by exercise never leave the muscles; they do not reach tissues and organs, so they are unable to wreak havoc. Rather, they perform two important functions: they fight infection, and enable muscles to make important adaptive changes to exercise. Exercise, when carried out to optimal levels, actually improves the immunity, by enabling the body to create more of its own protective antioxidant enzymes. Ultimately, the type of free radicals we should be worried about, are those caused by chemicals, pollution, etc. To counter their effects, it is vital to consume antioxidant rich foods, and to try to include as much organic produce as we can into our diet.
The BJN study made a second important observation: the frequency of occurrence of pesticide residues is four times higher in conventionally grown crops. The latter also contain much higher concentrations of toxic metal, cadmium. Organic produce additionally contains more minerals and vitamins.
Pesticide residues have many effects on our health; they even affect sperm quality! Scientists at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that men who consumed fruits and vegetables with higher levels of pesticide residues had a lower per cent of normal sperm, than those who consumed produce with lower pesticide residue levels. These harmful residues affect our health in many more ways. In children, studies have shown a link between pesticide exposure and the development of certain types of cancer, including brain tumors, leukemia and sarcoma. They have also been shown to impair mental and motor development in animals, and are linked to certain cancers and birth defects in babies.
If you are planning on making the switch to organic foods, and are concerned about the higher prices fetched by this type of produce, at least make it a point to avoid conventionally grown ‘Dirty Dozen’ foods. These include (in order of contamination, from greatest to least): apples, celery, bell peppers, peaches, strawberries, nectarines, grapes spinach, lettuce, cucumbers and potatoes. In contrast, ‘Clean 15’ foods (from least to most contaminated) are: onions, sweet corn, pineapples, avocado, cabbage, sweet peas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, kiwi, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, watermelon and mushrooms.
This is an article by Helen Grayson.
Alcohol And Fitness
Let’s get one thing clear from the get-go: you should not train while drunk. It’s dangerous to work out when your reactions are slowed and your co-ordination dulled – particularly if you’re using weights or machinery! Even going for a run could result in you falling over and hurting yourself! So restrict your boozy workouts to flailing about on the dancefloor – no matter the intensity of your sudden drunk-guilt about the pizza you ate earlier. So don’t drink and train. This (fairly obvious) proviso aside, however, what is the general consensus on alcohol and fitness? How much do you have to drink before it starts impacting upon your fitness regime? And can it ever be good for you?
In general, the answer is that you should avoid alcohol as much as possible if you want to be fit. Although there is a complex relationship between heavy drinking and body weight, it’s worth noting that alcohol contains an awful lot of empty calories. It can’t be stored as energy in the muscles, so the body immediately turns it into fat. If you are working out for weight loss, you may well find the fat frustratingly hard to shift if you’re drinking more than a few units a week. What is more, alcohol can inhibit your body’s mechanisms for metabolising carbohydrates. This not only makes your workout seem a lot tougher (as your muscles are struggling for fuel), but it minimizes the amount of fat you’ll use up during that workout. Not to mention the fact that alcohol dehydrates you. Even if you’re heading to the gym some days after drinking alcohol, if you haven’t replenished lost fluids adequately, you’re going to suffer. So not only is alcohol nutritionally void itself, it can also hinder your body’s methods of working with other forms of nutrition and hydration. Best avoided altogether in the days leading up to your training session.
Inhibits Your Progress
Not only is alcohol bad for fat loss, it’s also bad for muscle gain. How? Well, rat studies and even tentative studies on humans have shown that alcohol can slow or even halt protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is the mechanism by which your body repairs damaged muscles. When you work out, you cause micro-tears in your muscle fibers. In order to fix the damage, your body synthesises protein to replace the torn strands. In order to strengthen the muscle and prevent the injury from happening again, it tends to lay down more fibers than were initially there. This is how muscles grow. Too much drinking will hinder this process. Don’t believe us? Have a strenuous workout, wake up with sore muscles, and go out drinking. We’re willing to bet that your muscles are just as sore (as well as your head, potentially!) when you wake up the next morning. Then try the same without the drinking. You’ll notice a tangible improvement in your muscle-pain on the second night after working without alcohol, which simply wasn’t there when you drank. This is because your body has been able to heal and build upon the damage while you were not drinking in a manner which it could not achieve while you had alcohol in your system.
So, alcohol stops you losing fat, makes your workouts harder, and prevents you from building muscle. And we haven’t even gone into all of the other scary, bad stuff which drinking too much can do to you (your liver is very important! Don’t mess it up!). However, there is some evidence to suggest that moderate drinking can be good for your fitness levels. Before you ignore all of our previous advice and rush to the bar, let it be noted that ‘moderate drinking’ probably means way less drinking than you think. It basically amounts to a couple of glasses of wine per week, or four pints spread out over seven days. Not enough to get you really drunk, not even if consumed all in one evening (well, not enough for most of us, anyway!). However, if you can stick to this spartan amount, then there MAY (although medical opinion is divided upon this!) be some benefits to reap. Some studies suggest that your cardiovascular system may be improved by the ingestion of resveratrol – an antioxidant found in red wine. Furthermore, those who maintain a moderate alcohol intake tend to live longer than those who are teetotal. There are probably more factors than simple physical fitness at play here – but it’s worth paying attention to this nonetheless! However, we cannot stress enough just how limited a ‘moderate’ alcohol intake is. Go over the ‘moderate’ limit, and the negatives quickly and catastrophically begin to outweigh the positives!