CrossFit Diet Tips in This Article:
- How to track results of a diet
- Understanding how calories and macros work
- Finding out how much you need to eat for your desired physique
- Meal ideas and grocery list
Everyone’s body is different so we are sorry to say there is no “one size fits all” CrossFit diet plan out there waiting to be found by you. In order to see real change in your physique, you’re going to have to get to know your body and see how it reacts to the foods you eat. This process is very simple, but that does not mean it is easy. Always remember, it takes time to see results when you start a new diet.
There are tons of web pages that go into detail about what CrossFit diet you can do to lose weight or gain muscle when training. Following some of these diet plans like the paleo diet, keto diet, or zone diet can be a great way to get started with tracking your nutrition, but they are not the silver bullets most people want.
It takes hard work to consistently eat the right foods and train hard, but if it was easy everyone would have done it already.
Tracking Your Progress to See Results
Before you jump into a new diet to complement your training, know that it is absolutely essential to keep track of as many metrics as you can. Whether you are trying to lose weight or gain muscle, you should always record metrics that pertain to your diet. Some things you can do to track your progress include:
- Record your weight in the morning
It is best to record your weight first thing in the morning because you have not recently eaten anything and your body has had time to digest. You can later look at the averages of your weight over time to see results.
- Take progress pictures
It is important to take progress photos so that you can visually see changes in your body over time. Sometimes it is hard to stay motivated when you are just counting on scale numbers, so seeing physical change can help.
- Track your nutrition
Your nutrition makes up a majority of how much you will change when trying a new fitness method like CrossFit. If you want to see results from a CrossFit diet, your priority should be cooking the right meals.
- Take body measurements
Taking measurements of your body is another good way to see results too small to examine physically. If you are trying to lose weight it’s a good idea to measure your waist and chest. If you are trying to gain muscle, you can measure muscle groups like arms, legs, and chest.
Seeing a change in your physique takes a lot of time. Lack of patience is the main reason that most people do not stick with a CrossFit diet. As weeks pass by and you start to think you are not making any progress, look at your records to see the changes in your body. It is great to keep progress pictures when you are dieting because your body changes only slightly, week to week. The difference is hard to see when you don’t have anything to compare yourself to, and progress pictures can remedy that.
Understand Calories and Macros
Understanding how calories and macronutrients work is essential to learning how to create your own fool-proof CrossFit diet plan to lose weight or to gain muscle.
So what are Calories and Macronutrients? To put it plainly, there are 3 groups of macronutrients (or macros), and every gram of a macro corresponds to a number of calories. You have probably seen a nutrition label on food packaging that looks like the one below. Macros and calories are just a simple math equation that you can use to control your weight! Look at this example for an explanation:
Now that you understand what calories are and how to use them, you just need to know how much of each you need to reach your daily caloric intake.
Just this label contains all the information you need to start eating the right foods. At first, the label might look pretty confusing if you have never studied one, but you only really need to pay attention to three items. The 3 macros that will be the bulk of your CrossFit diet are:
Carbs: Carbohydrates or carbs are where energy comes from. (4 calories per gram)
Protein: Protein is what our body uses to build muscle. (4 calories per gram)
Fat: Fat is a source of stored energy the body burns. (9 calories per gram)
It is common that people will not eat some macronutrients because they have been labeled as “bad”. Although it is true that you can have too much of one macro, you must incorporate all of them into your diet in moderation.
MyFitnessPal is a very helpful tool when it comes to tracking your calorie and macronutrient intake. Instead of looking at the nutrition label and doing all the calorie and macro math for your diet, you can just scan the barcode of a food item and all that information will be on your phone. If you are looking for information on a generic food item you can also just search for it by name.
What makes up your CrossFit Macro diet
So now that you know what kinds of macros are out there, how many should your CrossFit macro diet have? Well as mentioned before, not everyone has the same body so there is not a magic number of calories that everyone has to eat. You first need to find your maintenance caloric intake. This metric is how many calories you need to eat every single day to maintain your current weight.
The quickest way to get a general idea of your maintenance is to use a TDEE calculator. This will give you an estimate of your maintenance based on several demographics.
This is where trial and error comes into play. Depending on whether you want to lose or gain weight, you must subtract or add calories to your TDEE accordingly. For example if your maintenance is 2,500 cal/day, subtract around 300 calories to lose weight at 2,200 calories, and add 300 calories to gain weight at 2,800 calories. It is that simple. After you keep a close eye on your weight for a week or two, see where your weight goes and adjust your caloric intake accordingly.
After finding your goal intake you need to divvy up your macros to fit those calories. You can find different macro splits by googling “macro percentage split for…” and include whether you are trying to lose or gain weight. If you are trying to lose weight there may be less fat and more carbs and protein. If you are trying to gain weight it might be more protein and less fat and carbs.
We recommend this split for a strength-building CrossFit macro diet: 50% carbs, 40% protein, 10% fat
How to Find Your Macro Count
Here is a quick example of how to use the calculator and find your macro split:
1. First, type in your information and get your TDEE estimate, for this example we will use a 30-year-old male weighing 195 lbs.
2. Depending on whether you would like to lose weight or gain muscle add or subtract around 300 calories to start. In this example, we will subtract 300 calories for weight loss bringing our required daily intake to 1,940.
3. Then plug in your TDEE number to each equation to find how many grams of each macro you will be eating per day. Remember how many calories there are per gram of macro: carbs and protein = 4; fats = 9
4. Time to start grocery shopping!
Creating a CrossFit Meal Plan with a Grocery List
Now that you know how much of each macro you need in your diet, it’s finally time to create your CrossFit meal plan. First, we highly recommend getting a food scale to make measuring your macros a million times easier.
Designing a CrossFit diet is sort of like putting a puzzle together. All you need to do is find food with the right macro puzzle pieces and fit them in the right spot.
One way to lose motivation is making your CrossFit meal plan way too complex. Many meals you find online have 15+ ingredients per meal which can cause you to lose interest after seeing how much money you will spend buying the ingredients for it. Keep it simple and pick a couple of easy meals to start, not only will this keep you from quitting, it can save you some money too.
- Chicken Breast
- Ground Turkey
- Pork Chop
- Egg Whites
- Turkey Bacon
- Sweet Potatoes
- Greek Yogurt
- Coconut Oil
Just use the macro cheat sheet to find all the pieces to your macro puzzle, it’s that simple! If you want to make your shopping trip easier, set aside some time to write out all of the meals you will be making for the entire week. Here are some examples you can get meal ideas from:
Eggwhites, Turkey bacon, and low-fat cheese on a piece of toast with a side of fresh fruit. This meal covers all macros (protein-egg and bacon, carbs-bread, and fats-cheese) and you can alter the serving sizes to fit your personal diet.
seasoned chicken breast with rice and broccoli. Once again you can alter the serving sizes to cover all your calories for the day.
Ground turkey burger on a whole wheat bun with quinoa and peas on the side.
If these tips have helped you and you are in the North Raleigh area, we would love to help you achieve your fitness goals here at DFX CrossFit. We help both beginners and advanced CrossFit athletes. You can also learn more about our Nutrition coaching on our website.