Nutrition and the Body by Coach Lexi
I have had a lot of questions about diet and nutrition recently from my clients and members at the box. I always enjoy talking about nutrition because it is something that is really important to me and I am always pleased when others are keen to talk about it, because it shows they care about it. Good nutrition is as important to humans as good foundations are to a building. Without it we won’t function to our full potential and we won’t stand for very long! But what is good nutrition and what is best? That is like asking how long is a piece of string. There is no definite answer because everyone is different. There are a few guidelines we can follow, but what I wanted to share with you this week in my blog was what I have been doing recently and how I have had to change my nutrition and diet to help me achieve a better performance and a better lifestyle.
We, human beings, have been adapting since the dawn of time. We’ve adapted to live in the most diverse ecosystems, under the most extreme social-political regimes. Our bodies adapt to the stimuli that they are exposed to. When we lift weights, our body adapts by growing more muscle, if we run long distances our bodies adapt by building more capillaries to enhance blood flow. When we eat a low calorie diet our metabolism adapts to ‘function’ on what it is fed.
I have changed my eating habits a lot over the years, especially since making the transition from Thai Boxing to CrossFit and even more recently because my work hours and sleep patterns have changed. When I was very young I ate a low calorie diet, which was low in fat. When I trained as a fighter I ate a higher calorie diet but one which was low in carbs, high in protein, and high in fat. It helped me in some aspects of my life but also created bigger problems that I am now trying to fix. My body adapted a certain way for so long and now I am trying to change that.
To give you a brief history of my background, as a fighter I spent years trying to get as lean as possible, get to the smallest weight category I could whilst still being as strong as I could be. So my whole attitude towards food was skewed. The most extreme situation was cutting weight for a fight where I would starve for weeks then completely cut out food and dehydrate for 24 hours before a weigh in, to shave kilos off my body weight. As soon as I weighed in, stepped off the scales I would spend the next 24 hours eating and drinking about 4 kilos back on. This yoyo dieting I did every 8 weeks played havoc with my body and my mind. When I started CrossFit I no longer had to worry so much about weight categories. I had to eat, build muscle, make gains. Trouble was I wasn’t used to training in this style. High intensity, heavy weights, high reps. I was trying to adapt to a new way of training and a new regime, but my diet didn’t match. I tried eating Paleo ‘style’. Less carbs, high protein & high fat thinking this was what was healthy. The result? Messed up digestive system, low energy levels, poor quality of sleep. I lacked energy I needed in training and my numbers suffered as a result.
I’ve recently started working with a nutritionist who has literally flipped my diet on its head. I was warned at the start that I would have to be prepared to change drastically the type of foods I was eating and it would not be easy. But I like a challenge and I embrace anything that helps me function better as an athlete and of course as a human being. After 2 weeks I am now consuming about 700 calories less than I was used to. I have had to cut my fat intake down by more than half and almost doubled my carb intake. Protein has been reduced slightly as well. The biggest change for me is the time of day I eat particular macronutrients. This being no fats in the morning and mostly carbs in the evening. The result? I am sleeping like a baby, energy levels are higher in the morning, I don’t get that mid afternoon drop in energy, I don’t crave snacks in between meals, my energy output in WODs has increased and my digestive system is working a lot better. (I’ve also hit a few PBs 😉
I am nowhere near where I need to be yet, but I am already seeing improvements. What this past fortnight has taught me is more carbs is definitely better for my lifestyle. Eating around my training is important. Quality and quantity of food is important. This might seem like common sense, but how many of you actually pay particular attention to this? I know myself for one didn’t for a long time and I have suffered as a consequence.
I will write more on this in a few weeks time because I am sure that things will continue to change for me. We haven’t worked out exactly what is right for me just yet but I definitely feel much better for this change. An important note to make, like I said at the beginning, is that what works for one person won’t necessarily work for the next. Every ‘BODY’ is different. But isn’t that what makes us so inexplicably and uniquely amazing! Until next time..