I’ve kicked off another Nutrition Challenge at CrossfitOP! The Fit For Fall Challenge began on Monday and will go for another 5 weeks as participating members work on tracking their foods and staying within their calculated calorie range to ensure they are properly fueling their body! Along with monitoring food quantity, food quality is also prioritized by including a vegetable at every meal and choosing at least 80% of their foods from unprocessed, whole food sources.
As members get started on their first week, they are initially intimidated by the number of calories they’re recommended to consume. The majority of these Challenge members are very active, participating in Crossfit classes or personal training sessions 3-5 times per week as well as living non-stop lives! Most often when people come to me looking for nutrition help to get them on the path for weight loss, they are not eating enough! That seems crazy to think about when the typical American must be overeating calories to earn the title of heaviest population.
The way that people are not eating enough though is not through living in moderation, rather the typical diet is crazy high in calorically dense, nutrient sparse foods that are eaten in between long intervals of not eating in an effort to “be good”. This results in a dangerous cycle of “dieting” by eating very little for the first 8 hours of the day, then binge-eating unhealthy foods at night because the body is starving. As a result of only getting in 1000 calories per day because of this restrict-binge cycle, the body won’t burn off it’s internal energy sources (fat mass, adipose tissue) because it doesn’t have a consistent source of external energy coming in. So when the unhealthy late-night binge occurs, most of that meal gets stored as internal energy for future use because the body is smart and knows it needs to stay prepared to continue to survive!
My nutrition challenges have had a positive impact on people’s diets by helping them realize their bodies NEED fuel. Once they start eating within the calorie range their body needs, it allows the internal energy to be burned. With higher calorie consumption, they also have higher energy levels and are able to workout harder and longer at the gym as well as be more active in their day-to-day lives! All of this results in the proper calorie balance to result in weight loss! I always tell my clients, it takes energy to burn energy.
Not all the challenge members are looking to lose weight though! I have had 3-4 members each challenge looking to bulk up to get stronger and bigger. The men and women looking to increase muscle mass therefore need to take in even greater amounts of calories to overcome the homeostasis their bodies have been living in and trigger an anabolic environment. In one previous case, a challenge member looking to put on 10lbs for strength purposes increased his calories to over 3000. Through the 6 weeks of the challenge and being within his calorie goal range consistently, he LOST weight because of the shift in energy balance from internal to external! Following the challenge, he had to increase his intake even higher in order to “shift the scales” of his calorie balance as well as his weight!
Regardless of the end goal, most members realize that reaching any calorie goal with whole foods is difficult! The less processed, more nutritious foods are typically less calorically dense which means more food bulk to reach the calorie goal! This helps people avoid feeling like they are starving when changing their diet because a high amount of food can still be within their calorie goals! So when they make the realization that they just ate 3 cups of spinach, a chicken breast, and 1 cup of broccoli and it was only 100 of their 2100 calories….they always ask me “What do you eat in a day?!”
I have avoided writing up this kind of post because everyone is SO different and I didn’t want people getting the idea that if they ate exactly one way it would get them to their goals. I eat close to the same thing every day because it’s easy for me to meal prep, I like the foods, they are good on my digestive system between training sessions, and they allow me to reach my calorie & macronutrient goals to perform at the level I would like to! BUT hopefully it offers you some ideas on meal ideas if you are needing help reaching your calorie goal or prioritizing whole foods and vegetables while realizing different things will work for different people!
So here is a day in the life of my plate:
Breakfast: 5:20ish am
~475 calories – 30g protein, 50g carbs, 18g fat
2 pieces of whole grain & seed toast
2 egg whites
~50g avocado (smashed on the toast)
Topped with salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, and ketchup (not pictured)
Plus tea (lemon ginger or green tea)
Then off to OP to coach for an hour and then work on some things at my desk!
Second Breakfast: 8-9 am
~500 calories – 18g protein, 100g carbs, 15g fat
1 apple (right after coaching)
1 cup oats
~1 cup milk
~1/2 cup blueberries
Eaten at my desk before coaching the 9am class and starting training right afterwards! Sometimes I will drink the Purus Labs Aminos during this time too to prep for training!
Intra Workout: 10-11am
~200 calories – .5-5g protein, 50g carbs, 0g fat
1 scoop Purus Labs Muscle Marinade
1 Fruit Strip (14g carbs)
Sometimes some oat bites (homemade or purchased) (2g protein, 20g carbs, 4g fat)
1 scoop Purus Labs BCAA, sometimes mixed with Trader Joe’s Lite Lemonade (10g carbs, 5g protein)
(Use code KEARNS20 to save 20% on Purus Labs products at puruslabs.net)
All depends on how I’m feeling and what training calls for! More heavy strength training means more carbohydrates during workout time!
Post Workout AKA Lunch: 1-2 pm
Usually back at my desk. I mix and match my meal prep options in the morning while I cook my eggs and put together my “overnight” oats. It’s almost always Turkey Veggies Burgers and recently has been paired with rice over some greens and one other vegetable that I try to rotate. This week was green beans but I will also roast brussel sprouts, carrots, broccoli, or asparagus.
~400 calories – 25g protein, 60g carbs, 10g fat
2 Turkey Veggie Burgers
handful of mixed greens
~1 cup of whatever vegetable I make that week!
Topped with 2T of honey mustard dressing
Evening Snack: 4-5pm
While coaching in the evening, I’ll have 1 scoop of Purus Labs MyoFeed protein. If I happen to be super hungry, I will also have an Rx Bar or some oat bars
~100-500 calories – 22-26g protein, 4-50g carbs, 1-18g fat
Once I’m home from coaching (or sometimes an evening workout session), my dinner is already prepped! Along with the Turkey Veggie Burgers, I prep chicken breasts so that my day and night meals can always be varied. I will also sometimes prep sweet potatoes and rice to mix up my carbohydrate sources and then one or two vegetables to mix and match. (Meal prepping doesn’t have to be complicated!)
~300 calories – 55g protein, 40g carbs, 2g fat
200g chicken breast
4oz rice (or 200g sweet potatoes)
Lots of greens & veggies
If I had an evening workout, I will balance some more carbohydrates in the evening to help with my recovery (like a bowl of cereal as my night cap 🙂 ) but otherwise my dinners are small!
Thursday’s: Rest Day!
The only day these may be different are my Thursday rest days (and sometimes weekends). I don’t work early Thursday either so I have time to cook up some fresh veggies to go with my eggs! I’ve been posting these to @foodcertitudenutrition with #justaddeggs 🙂
My daily goals are 170g protein, 300g carbs, 57g fats totaling to about 2400 calories. Hope these ideas help you out with making healthy choices and providing your body with enough fuel and nourishment to reach your performance, health and body composition goals! Be sure to follow my Facebook page (Food Certitude Nutrition) and Instagram (@foodcertitudenutrition) to keep up with Challenge members’ progress and more meal ideas and recipes!