As we are introducing a number of new members of the FerVor Family to a different way to view food, in light of the way it impacts our bodies, it seemed fitting to write a brief (hopefully) post on the role of nutrition and body recomposition.
There are numerous examples of the effectiveness of CrossFit and it’s impact onbody recomposition (changing the ratio of lean body mass to fat mass). I am fortunate to have been one of those examples myself and I am also blessed to be able to lead others down this path here at CrossFit FerVor in Mansfield Texas. I have also been able to make some distinctions based on the experiences of CrossFit FerVor athletes.
First, nutrition, nutrition, nutrition! You can’t out work a crappy diet. This isn’t to say that you can’t make gains while eating crap. You can and will gain some lean mass through resistance exercise, you will improve overall cardiorespitory performance through high intensity movements and you will lose some body fat. However, the speed, degree and ceiling of improvement of all three of these objectives is determined by the quality of your fuel.
So, am I saying you have to starve or count calories in order to look better naked? Absolutely not. Starving is not a sustainable plan and counting calories over the long haul just isn’t going to happen with 99.5% of the population. We can drastically reduce caloric intake, improve micro and macro nutritional intake by making a few adjustments to the foods we eat.
Isn’t a Calorie a Calorie? Yes and No. A calorie as a measure of energy (or fuel) is consistent and really doen’t matter what source it was derived from.
200 calories of broccoli is exactly the same as 200 calories of white bread. Just as a pound of lead weighs the same as a pound of feathers, the difference is density. You only need a small amount of lead to make up the pound but a whole lot of feathers. The caloric density of food choices enables us to eat HUGE volumes of the right foods and still lose weight.
So this leads to the first obvious difference, density & volume: Considering the broccoli and white bread example above. It takes nearly four cups of broccoli (about 54 calories per cup), while a mere 3 slices of the white bread would comprise the same 200 calories. Less food volume for your calorie when the food is calorically dense. (Lead vs. Feathers).
Additionally, macro nutrients are not the only thing at play here we also have all the micro nutrients that our bodies must obtain from our food. Veggies are full of them. Some man made foods like cereal my have some added in. So your kid’s cereal that boasts vitamins and minerals has them sprayed on. It would be like handing your kid a snickers and a multi vitamin before school for breakfast.
Vibrant colored vegetables are loaded with good stuff, calorically dense white carbs are generally nutritionally sparse.
A Calorie is the measure of energy required to raise the temperature of one gram of water 1 degree (centigrade). This is useful to create comparisons. But it isn’t the full story of what is going on in our bodies. Continuing with the Broccoli and white bread analogy. The caloric density and the ease with which it is converted to usable energy by our bodies. There are measurement systems for this as well they are commonly know as Glycemic Load and Glycemic Index (Dr. Weil covers these briefly here). In essence these measures help us understand how efficiently our body transforms what we eat into what we burn. It also indicates how our blood sugar responds. A rapid increase prompts the release of Insulin (a fat storage hormone) and will lead to being hungry again sooner. The more efficient the fuel source the fewer calories that can be stored as fat in our bodies. This is impacted by a number of factors (cooking, or other preparations, juicing, etc) tend to raise the glycemic load or index of a food. So lightly cooked, or raw, vegetables and fruits are naturally our best choices. Additionally, adding in meat and healthy fats when consuming carbohydrates lowers the glycemic load for the meal or snack.
By the way, white bread can score higher than table sugar for its ability to raise blood sugar levels. Unfortunately, the rise of efficient modern farming techniques have made these food cheap staples in the modern american diet. I am not against farmers please do not be confused on this point. But what is good to help ensure people do not starve to death is not the best option when people have easy access to huge quantities of these types of foods.
When we ask people to change what they eat by eliminating breads, pasta, rice, and potatoes (grouped together we refer to them as “white carbs”) you would think that there were no other options. Clearly this is not the case. In fact this exercise generally helps to open people up to wonderful food choices that they may not have previously been exposed to.
A couple of our favorite food hacks include “riced” cauliflower and spaghetti squash. I have heard a number of our athletes rave about how good spaghetti squash tastes. Joy commented “I can’t believe I had never heard of this.” It is delicious. Seriously, you should try it.
The subject of nutrition will require additional posts as I see that so many people have a great deal to learn here. So to recap the message here. Getting lean doesn’t require starvation but it does require you to pay attention to what you are eating.