Order Your Dinner for 16.4 HERE.


3 rounds for time of:
Run 400 meters
1.5-pood kettlebell swings, 21 reps
12 pull-ups 

The foundation of the CrossFit program is Nutrition.

The foundation of the CrossFit program is Nutrition.

If you follow any well-known CrossFitters or Games athletes on social media, you’ll often see posts or hashtags with the words paleo, zone, and macros. Each word represents a method for food consumption that is based around a desire to improve one’s health, fitness, and physique – and all have their merit. Let’s take a look at each.

The word Paleo refers to the way our modern ancestors ate before the advent of modern agriculture. At the base of the Paleo approach is a universal elimination of grains, dairy, and legumes. Other foods and micronutrients often included in the discussion are salt, natural sugar sources, such as maple syrup, and green beans (a legume); however, there is not 100% agreement from Paleo professionals or scientists on these finer elements.

The Paleo approach is focused on quality (opposed to quantity) of foods. The elimination of processed foods paired with eating foods with high micronutrient quantities means individuals are laying the foundation to avoid Western diseases such as obesity, Type II diabetes and glucose intolerance, hypertryglyceridemia, and hypertension. It means that individuals are protecting their health now and long into the future.

CrossFit’s first sentence in its dietary prescription is to “eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar.” While this prescription is not specifically Paleo, a Paleo approach, by default, does help greatly to create a meal that falls within this recommendation while eliminating a number of foods that produce an allergic or autoimmune response (dairy, grains, and legumes).

While the first sentence in CrossFit’s dietary prescription relates to quality, the second sentence hones in on quantity and performance, and to some degree physique – and it states “keep intake levels to that which will support exercise and not body fat.” The Zone and Macros focus on quantity of food.

CrossFit Journal Article 15 is a great place to start!

Zone refers to The Zone Diet, developed by Dr. Barry Sears. Sears’ research supports that in order to avoid metabolic derangement, individuals must keep their hormonal response to food in balance. He developed the Zone Diet to help individuals regain and maintain this balance. The inclusion of many processed and high carbohydrate foods in diets has skewed the proportion of carbohydrate to protein in western diets and created a perfect storm for lifelong health problems and decline.

At the heart of the Zone Diet is a balance between protein, carbohydrate, and fat at each meal. CrossFit’s love of the Zone Diet is rooted in its ability to promote health and wellness through hormonal control. In addition, CrossFit believes in the Zone Diet because it brings precision and accuracy, through weighing and measuring, to an individual’s diet.

To create meals that are hormonally balanced, Dr. Sears invented the Block Chart, which is a simple and easily accessible method to track and log food consumption.

CrossFit Journal Article 21 is a great starting point for this method!

Macros refers to a method of food logging that looks specifically at tracking the carbohydrate, protein, and fat consumed each day – opposed to total calories. While tracking total calories, and eating less calories than needed, will help an individual lose weight, there is substantial evidence that shows that the composition of protein, carb, and fat within a diet can greatly impact an individual’s ability to lose weight, perform, put on muscle, or lean out. An individual can track their macros generally with Zone methodology; however, the macro method and the utilization of the MyFitnessPal phone app delivers a higher level of precision.

This method involves logging everything consumed into a phone app. A popular app for this is MyFitnessPal. There are many websites to help an individual calculate their macros. The specific method chosen will affect your protein/carbohydrate/fat recommendations.

IIFYM.com is a great starting point for this method!

Having tried all three methods for 6 months or more, I can say that there is something to be learned from each method; however, at the end of the day, I believe each individual needs a method that incorporate quality AND quantity. The quality of the foods we eat (i.e. Paleo) are just as important as the quantity of foods we eat (i.e. Zone and Macros).