Performance Nutrition- “Light as a feather, strong as an ox…”

In the stadium stands after my final event at the 2012 CrossFit Games.

Right now I am at a big point in my training for the 2014 CrossFit Games Open and the SoCal Regionals. I have spent the past few months ramping up my volume and attacking my weaknesses harder than ever. I want to do everything in my power to get the most of my abilities and to perform at levels I know I can reach. I have taken a look at my competitive history in CrossFit to figure out different periods where I performed best and to find anything I might have strayed from or did differently at times when I was peaking. What I realized is that in the past I have maintained top strength numbers at a much lower bodyweight, which allowed me to simultaneously maintain way more capacity with bodyweight and mono-structural movements. My most recent competition was the 2014 OC Throwdown and I weighed in at 206#. I did not feel like my strengths as an athlete were where they should be and competing at a heavier bodyweight had some big drawbacks to my performance. The last time I qualified for the CrossFit Games (2012) I competed at a bodyweight of 186# and I felt strong, fast, and prepared for anything that came my way. Because of this I decided to get back to that place by dropping my intake drastically: I am now eating 13 Zone balanced blocks a day with 1x fat (this includes my post WOD shake that I count as 3 of my blocks). This equates to roughly 1300 calories a day. If you are familiar with the Zone you know that this means I keep my protein and fat levels very moderate, stick to fruits and vegetables as carb sources, and balance everything in specific portions every time I eat.  What I have found is that I am thriving with this major caloric restriction. My goal is to drop down to a bodyweight between 185-190# and everything is going according to plan. I feel better than ever in my workouts, my strength numbers are increasing, and my ability to handle bodyweight movements is skyrocketing. With that caloric restriction in mind take a look at a recent training day for me:

6am: Group class WOD at CrossFit Kinnick with heavy power cleans and lunges.

8am: Track session where I hit 12 x 200m sprints on the 90 seconds.

10am: O-lifting session, matched a PR hang squat snatch with 245#.

11am: Short and light metcon workout.

8pm: Lifting session with O-lifting accessory lifts, heavy front squats, and bench press.

I feel amazing through days like this and I can see my performance shooting through the roof.

Most athletes do not take their nutrition as seriously as I do (I go literally years between “cheats”), and most definitely would not tighten up their food this much. I know this goes against the typical view that athletes have way more leeway with their diet. Most people think competitors can eat as much as they want, cheat more often, and load up on protein and fats. The way I see it, anyone who disregards their nutrition leaves gains on the table. The best could be better with a focused nutrition.

In my experience, a lot of people who only focus on Paleo quality foods without balancing macronutrients struggle to reach their goals for health or performance. Knowing how much you should be consuming is extremely important and I think disregarding this has caused many people to overeat on a daily basis, especially in regards to protein and fat. I have seen time and time again, with myself and my athletes, that balancing high quality foods in critical to success and restricting intake is not a negative approach. Our bodies can thrive and perform at peak levels without having to process excess fuel that we put in. Once I am down to around 185# I will up my intake, but even then only slightly. One of the greatest parts about having put years of work into my nutrition is how much control I have developed over how I feel and perform on a day to day basis. If you have any thoughts or views on this please post them to the comments!

11 thoughts on “Performance Nutrition- “Light as a feather, strong as an ox…””

    1. Glad to help Ryan. What I am doing is obviously extreme and not for everyone but the control that comes with knowing what you are putting in your body and making sure its the right stuff that comes from the Zone is huge in my experience. Good luck this season!

  1. Jeremy, awesome post – it’s really cool to see someone as elite as a Games competitor doing something that some would consider crazy like losing lean body mass on purpose. I think you’re dead on in the benefits that it’s going to give you, particularly in power to weight ratio and Oxygen Efficiency.

    I am actually trying to do the same thing, you think you could weigh in on a strategy? I’m fairly new to Crossfit and I have a bodybuilding/football backgound. I’m a lean 190 @ 5’10”, so need to drop some mass that’s just creating more of a demand for oxygen in metcons and keeping me from reaching the next level in bodyweight movements.

    Would your plan work for me? Is the general strategy just to work out a lot and underfeed until you hit goal weight? Any color commentary would be much appreciated!


  2. I’m really looking forward to seeing how you do this year. You’re one of the guys I try to follow and look up to. I don’t understand how you are training that hard in a caloric deficit and still gaining strength at the same time. Im cutting down some extra weight as well for the open, however my coach keeps on telling me that I need to eat more when doing harder training. I am 18 years old with a body weight of 160lbs. I train 1-3 times a day. How much food would you recommend for me to take?

  3. I started paleo back in April of 2013 I went from 197 with 16% body fat down to 175 and 9% in 45 days. Right now I am at 178 and 9 to 10% this was all paleo using the zone….my sprinting and gymnastics has improved tremendously but my lifts have gone down slightly…any advice?

  4. Do you still incorporate Bulletproof coffee into your day and if so, how do you account for the fat?

    1. Hey John! Great to hear from you. Since I started cutting weight mid January I have not had any Bulletproof Coffee. The reason I stopped is because it is way more fat that I needed and in order to reach my goals I needed to cut out a lot of things and that was one of them. If you are trying to lose weight/fat I would not recommend it. If you are doing it then you would just count up how much fat you are putting in there. In 1 tbsp of kerrygold butter there are 11g of fat. In 1 tbsp of coconut oil there are 14g of fat. If you are following the Zone thats over 8 blocks of fat. Hope that helps.

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