Tag Archives: nutrition

The Power of CrossFit and the Zone

CrossFit has a way of completely changing your life.  From the way you look at fitness to the way you view community.  For me, it has really flowed over to every single aspect of my life. Food, sleep, hydration, recovery, friends, family, relationships, work…all of these things have been transformed because of my experience with CrossFit. It is truly life changing.  

Since starting CrossFit, my view on nutrition has completely evolved.  I never really thought much about it before.  Healthy eating?  What did that even mean?  Starting the Zone diet in 2007 was a drastic change for me. Even though I would “Zone” processed foods, it was the first step in me taking my nutrition seriously. Since then, I have gradually improved the quality of food I consume. Over time I eliminated processed foods. Fruit was a major staple in my Zone meals, but over time I have phased that out. I include as much nutrient dense vegetables as possible every meal now. The quality of food was my next focus. I have gone from not eating anything organic to now eating almost all organic.  That eventually led me to taking matters into my own hands. I have been hard at work creating gardens for myself and my family so that we can become more sustainable.  It is pretty awesome to see how simply being introduced to CrossFit started this transformation in how I see everything that goes into my body.

If you are looking for help in pursuing a similar path with your nutrition, I offer nutrition consulting, meals plans, and guidance for successfully implementing the Zone into your daily lifestyle. My experience has changed my life and I want to share what I have learned with as many people as possible. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at jeremy@crossfitkinnick.com!

Greg Glassman on Nutrition and Performance (2007)

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“And that’s why I say you won’t get there by luck. None of our people that just ‘paleo’ things, (meats and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruits, little starch, no sugar), none of those people have been top performers. All of my top performers have been weigh-and-measure folks.” -Coach Glassman, 2007.

It’s 2014, and this is still truer than ever with the athletes at my gym.

Q & A on Performance Nutrition – “Light as a feather, strong as an ox…”


Recently I posted about some big changes I have made to my nutrition that go a little against the grain as far as eating for optimal performance (find the previous post here). Essentially I dropped my intake down to 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 performance has shot through the roof.

I received a lot of great feedback and questions regarding my experience and thoughts on how this works and if it could benefit others. Thanks everyone for the questions!

Q: 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?

A: Thanks for reaching out and great question. Without knowing your complete story I would recommend listening to your coach. At 160# and 18 years old you definitely have room to build some muscle. Most of the top CF athletes are 185# and up. If you want to email me I can help you if you give me more background on yourself. The way I do things is VERY different from the way pretty much everyone else does this. This includes the volume per day. Shoot me an email at Jeremy@CrossFitKinnick.com.

Q: 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?

A: Congrats on your success thus far! So have you been using a Paleo/Zone? In my opinion thats very close to the best way to eat. Either way those are some solid results. Make sure your focus is not on the weight but on your performance. Its hard to give advice without knowing a lot more info from you. Like how much you are eating, your programming, your days on and off, etc. If you are interested in some consulting I can help you out and give you my opinion on what you should be doing. Email me if you want some help Jeremy@CrossFitKinnick.com.

3) 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!

A: Thank you and I appreciate the feedback! I saw incredible success doing the same thing in 2011 leading up to the Open, Regionals, and the Games. This year I am seeing even better results due to smarter programming and a better understanding of eating. From what it sounds like you don’t need to do what I am doing. You are new to Crossfit and weigh 190# at 5’10. Thats about where I am. Getting lighter for you isnt something I would necessarily recommend. Its hard to tell without knowing more about what you are doing. Sounds to me like you just need to do more Crossfit bud and focus on those weaknesses. If you want me to create a plan for you I can definitely help with that. Without details it is hard to give quality advice. This strategy is something that I am doing based on my experience competing in Crossfit for the past 7 years and seeing my results at a heavier bodyweight. Hope that makes sense and helps If you want some help email me at Jeremy@CrossFitKinnick.com. Thanks again for the feedback!

4) What does a typical meal day for you look like?

A: Great question! It all depends on my workout schedule vs my training classes schedule. For the most part I wake up (around 7am) and within an hour have a 1 block breakfast of 1 fried egg, 1/4 block of steamed kale, 3/4 block of sweet potato, and a couple blocks of fat to cook my eggs. Then the fun begins and I start working out. I typically don’t eat again until 1pm or so. Then I will have the biggest 2 block salad you could ever imagine. It consists of 2 blocks of organic ground beef, 1 block of kale, 1/4 block onions, 1/4 block sugar snap peas, some artichoke hearts, a couple cups of mushrooms, and whatever other veggies I have in the fridge. I either use apple cider vinegar or coconut vinegar for my dressing and 2 blocks of olive oil or coconut oil or grass fed butter for my fat. I typically have a couple 1 block meals mixed in the rest of the day along with another salad like that, and 2 or 3 blocks at night before bed. My meals are very similar. I get a lot of greens in and only eat coconut oil, grass fed butter, and a little olive oil for my fat. My protein is typically organic grass fed ground beef or eggs. Hope that helps.

Q: Awesome write up. In the time I’ve done crossfit I feel like nutrition has been the biggest learning curve. There is always more info to learn and understand. I’m a little amazed by the 13 blocks a day but you do mention that its while you are working on hitting your competition weight goal. I’m curious how much of a transition in terms of quantity that has been than Prior to this goal. How many blocks were you eating before?

A: Thanks for reaching out. In the 7 years of Crossfit I have seen the most dramatic improvements in myself and my athletes when they are eating a perfect Zone with no cheat meals and no deviation. Is it easy? No, but that’s ok. At some point I will start to slowly increase my fat intake. Then I will slowly increase my number of blocks, but only to maintain my bodyweight. I don’t expect to eat much more than 13 blocks a day. My body is thriving off of this and so are my athletes at the box. Again this isn’t for everyone. Before this I was eating about 16 -18 blocks and not really controlling my fat intake. Hope that makes sense and thanks again for the post.

Zone 101

I have had some really great feedback from my recent post: Performance Nutrition: “Light as a Feather Strong as an Ox”  and I plan on answering all the questions I received in my next blog post. For me it is all about the Zone, it is absolutely key to my nutrition and it has become the only way I can ever eat. Balancing macronutrient is second nature for me and the Zone completely changed the way I view food. If you have heard some things about it but never completely understood the concept then watch this great video with CrossFit Kinnick Trainer Michael O’Brien. The Zone is actually an extremely simple system and approach to nutrition that yields the best benefits for health and performance.

Paleo-Zone Nutrition

The topic of nutrition is a huge one for me and I feel like it is one of the most important things to look at when you are trying to improve your performance and health. I take my own nutrition extremely seriously and have completely committed myself to only putting balanced, nutrient dense food in my body. I have been a big advocate of the Zone diet since I was first introduced to it years ago. I have always stuck with it and truly believe it is the best approach to nutrition for CrossFitters or anyone for that matter. The Zone focuses on balancing protein, carbohydrates, and fats in specific portions that ramp up performance and allows your body to function at its best. What I also focus on is making sure that the sources I am using for my protein, carbohydrates, and fats are the highest possible quality so that I am getting the best balance of my macronutrients while getting the most possible micronutrients. The Paleo diet gives good guidance as to what foods are best and what foods should be excluded when it comes to finding the best sources for our bodies. The combination of Zone quantities with Paleo quality is powerful and delivers exactly what my body needs to train at a high level, recover, and perform. The Zone has gotten somewhat of a bad reputation over the years because of how people misuse the system. The diet itself categorizes all food as either a protein, carbohydrate, or fat and allows you to get your blocks (the Zone serving size) from any source. Some people see that and think including processed carbohydrates, low quality proteins, or omega-6 heavy fats will yield good results. In reality, the Zone provides that information with the idea that anything can be balanced in a pinch, but the real success is found with lean meats, low glycemic vegetables and fruit, and as many omega-3 rich fat sources as possible. I have gone through periods where I balanced lower quality food sources and when I increased the quality, but kept the Zone balance the same I immediately saw increases in the way I felt and performed. Balancing the macronutrients becomes second nature with a little time and anyone who commits two weeks to learning the system will obtain the skill for a lifetime. In future blogs I am going to dive into even more aspects of my own experiences with nutrition and what I see as vital to success with the Zone diet combined with Paleo quality foods.