What exactly does “eating for performance” or “eating like an athlete” look like? What exactly does this mean?
When we tell our athletes we want them focusing on eating like an athlete, these are the things we are looking for:
Eating enough means you’re no longer eating to lose weight. In fact you are doing the complete opposite. You’re eating to ensure your body has enough fuel to crush your training sessions and recover strong between sessions. You focus on quality foods and making sure your body has everything it needs to train hard.
How do you know when you’re getting enough? You’re sleeping soundly, looking forward to most days of your training, feel like you have energy for all of the training, and are not exceptionally sore between sessions. If you’re a woman you should be having a regular menstrual cycle with moderate symptoms (chronic undereating can cause your period to disappear even if you are not at a low body fat percentage!).
I would much rather have my athletes eating some days of a calorie excess then have them in a deficit. Deficits or undereating lead to chronic fatigue syndrome, a weakened immune system, and an increased injury risk because you’re body doesn’t have enough fuel to repair and recover from training AND do normal life.
You can head HERE to get an idea of how much you should be eating for your activity level (choose athletic performance as your goal- VERY important!)
Eating the Right Macros for Your Body
Eating the right macros for you means we find the optimal ratio of carbs, proteins, and fats to make sure you have plenty of energy, managed gut health, and are sleeping well. Most CrossFit athletes find they do the best with about 40-50% carbs, 1g of protein per LB of bodyweight, and 20-30% fat. These can be starting points- some athletes will swear by low carb/keto, whereas others crush bowls of cereal like it’s their job.
When you find the right macros for you, you will be sleeping well (see the trend there!), feeling energized for and during training, and will be having 2 to 3 normal, solid bowel movements per day. You may also notice an increased ability to focus at work (this goes with getting ENOUGH food too!) and an increased libido. I find that a lot of my clients notice these improvements when we increase carbs (because for a lot of us carbs are magic).
Play around with the different ratios to see what works best. The one warning I have is to make sure you don’t eat too much fat before or during training- this can cause stomach upset!
Eating Relatively Clean
I say “relatively” because I want you to still enjoy your life. But it’s a lot easier to manage a leaner physique if you aren’t going crazy every weekend eating thousands of extra calories. Now you might say “hey I thought we aren’t worried about weight loss”. We aren’t.
Your physique evolves because you eat for training, dial in the macros your body prefers, eat relatively clean, and minimizer alcohol. If you do these things you can push harder in training, build more muscle which increase your resting metabolism (which in turn uses more calories at rest), and sleep better (decreases cortisol which impacts fat storage). This is the foundation that gets you a slim, trim, badass physique as a CONSEQUENCE of your consistency and actions.
So you can eat the occasional ice cream cone. But it’s a treat, not a cheat, and I highly recommend keeping it to one or two treat meals/snacks a week. This helps you stay balanced and ensures you are maintain a calorie balance (getting just enough for all the things but not being in excess TOO often).
This sometimes makes my athletes sad initially, but then once they see what this can do they are generally onboard. Alcohol calories are ALWAYS stored as fat (the beer belly is indeed a thing) and alcohol decreases testosterone levels while also affecting recovery. I advise my athletes to keep alcohol to one to two drinks a week at most, and to stick to the clear alcohols while also making sure for every drink they have they consume 8 ounces of water.
Want to see some abs pop? Cutting out alcohol will make a HUGE difference in body composition!
Okay team- like I said, you follow these four guidelines consistently and not only will you see your output during training improve, you will notice positive changes in your body composition, a potential in increased sex drive, better sleep, and more focus and energy throughout your day!
Questions? Comments? Let me know!
Need some help with your nutrition? Fill out the form HERE and let’s talk!
Want to join CFT and following programming just for women- programming with a heavy focus on gymnastics, all while working on your strength and conditioning, and learning how to dial in your hormones relative to your fitness? Head HERE to sign up!