Mitch on Supplements: Training and Business

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I don't care about supplements. They're cool and all as an athlete because they can improve recovery and training. The "business type" coaches in the fitness space are all about adding more revenue streams, and while I'm not opposed to making more money, I didn't get into coaching to sell powders. I got into it to train people, and most of the time that means that supplements aren't necessary. 

I see carrying supplements and RX bars and stuff like that as a convenience. My hope is that your health gets better because you don't have to pay attention to this kind of thing. Let me read the research and the tub labels while you just focus on eating clean and hitting the your workouts with the appropriate intensity. 

Because of this stack of beliefs, I'm discounting the price of all supplements for members. If you ordered FNX whey protein from their site or a GNC, you'd pay 60 bucks. Here you'll pay 55. I'm also going to offer a subscription system where you can get an increased discount ($50/month). I just want to make enough from this to keep stuff in stock. 

RX Bars will still be cheaper at Trader Joe's. Big shops can get big orders, so the boxes at TJs are only pennies more than what I pay wholesale.

If you're interested in other stuff that FNX has, talk to myself or Joey (he knows a lot about their product line as well), and we can create a custom subscription with a comparable discount. They carry BCAAs, Post workout carb blends, pre-workout powders (both with and without stimulants), electrolyte blends, sleep aids and adaptogenic stuff. 

Custom is the way to go on this. We may carry more of their stuff at a later time, but protein is the only supplement that's been supported time and again by the literature to improve response to training. Partly because, well, it's just food. 

Here are the people who should get the supplements: 

Get the whey protein if: 

  1. you have trouble getting enough protein in a day
  2. you handle dairy products well
  3. you want to add muscle
  4. you work out more than 4x/week

Get the cricket protein if: 

  1. you can't handle dairy products well
  2. you want to add muscle
  3. you work out more than 4x/week
  4. you have trouble getting enough protein in a day
  5. you want variety of protein sources
  6. you are NOT allergic to shellfish

Email mitch@crossfitglenellyn.com to talk supplements and custom subscription packages. Make it so you have one less health task on your checklist each month and save money. 

Games Changer: The Future of Competitive CrossFit

This week, CrossFit headquarters fired something like 40% of its staff, and stated that the format of the CrossFit Games would be changing. They are altering the three-stage selection process, and are seemingly trying to shift the emphasis of their organization from how the larger world sees them now into something different. 

The Open is staying, but is being moved up to October (for next year). The Games are staying, and will continue to be held in August. The Regionals, on the other hand, are going away. 

In place of the Regional competitions, we’ll have “16 qualifying events throughout the year” between the Open and the Games. Events some of you may know and follow like Wodapalooza and the Granite Games and the Dubai Fitness Championships would probably become Major-like tournaments that would serve as a kind of Pro Circuit for the athletes. Winning one would get you a spot at the Games. 

Apparently, every country that has a CrossFit gym will get to send an athlete to the Games via the Open. Like the Olympics. So now there are dozens of athletes trying to find a country with a single gym where they can be the top dog. 

It’s all odd. It’s most certainly incomplete information. 

I have some initial judgements. 

The Games must have been losing way more money than we thought. It can’t have been profitable, even with everyone’s Open fees pooled together, to put on an event of that magnitude every year. The Regionals especially have to have been a financial sinkhole. Being in the red was probably a decision made by the Games division as a way to “market” for affiliate gyms. A marketing expense that they didn’t see paying off. Moving to Madison, trimming the fat on the equipment (re-using gear multiple years in a row), and other thrifty moves were like little warning signs that something like this was coming. 

When CrossFit first started its Games, other competitions cropped up as “CrossFit” events because of the popularity of the first and second backyard barbecues in Aromas. In defense of their brand and name, they squashed the use of their name in any non-sanctioned event (anything other than the Games). As a result, you saw a lot of “CrossFit” competitions going by names like “fitness championships” and “throw down” and stuff like that. It made some sense at the time, but it always rubbed me the wrong way. This recent move seems to have robbed them of their leverage as an organization, as they now appear to be coming hat in hand to these other comps and asking them to be a part of their pro circuit. 

The best thing that could have happened to the CrossFit Games is for it to be taken away from Dave Castro. The level of control he exercised over the sport, and in turn the athletes’ lives and livelihood, was a stranglehold that choked growth and innovation. He’s a talented programmer, but the last three years have shown what I think are some blind spots that a round table team of masterminds could have prevented. As it stood, he was surrounded by sycophants and was never challenged when he had bad ideas. 

This news came out not as a press release, or an official statement, but as part of an interview with Greg Glassman. He’s the creator of CrossFit, but has been deep in the litigation side of things for the last several years. His comments on the new format alongside the firings of most of the Games staff are classic HQ. It’s another unprofessional cluster of speculation at this point. A media and PR team could do something about this, but they all just got let go. 

Here’s what I like: 

I like that events around the year will become more cohesive. Wodapalooza and the DFC and the Granite Games are awesome events, and they can get tons more attention now that the "ultimate proving ground" cares what happens there. 

I like the idea of competing year round as a sport, from October and through the winter and spring at these other events. I would LOVE to go to Wodapalooza, for one. Anyone else coming this year? 

I like that CrossFit is saying that their emphasis as an organization will be more on health than the elite performers. They’ve always declared this, but with all the focus on the Games, the “everyday affiliates” were most certainly overshadowed. 

I like that Dave Castro might have his stranglehold on the sport loosened so it can grow. 

Here’s what I don’t like: 

I don’t like that the Regionals are going away. They’re fun: I’d even say they’re MORE fun than the Games! The stakes seem higher, as everyone there is trying to get a ticket to the big show.

I don’t like how CrossFit is trying to get other comps, which it spurned in the first place, to play into its Games. 

 

I don’t like that (as it appears right now) one man, woman, and team per country gets to go to the Games. It’s not the Olympics. I don’t want to watch Mat Fraser stomp some token Madagascar dude, nor a landlocked nation state team drown in the Lake in Madison. 

I don’t like how Glassman runs his company like a biker gang, by fiat. CrossFit has so many fervent, passionate, professional, and somewhat dependent collaborators in the form of affiliate owners and athletes, that shoot-from-the-hip announcements and decisions like this make them look like amateurs. 

There’s no guarantee that the Games will stay as the ultimate league for the sport of fitness. Nike has more market share on CrossFitters’ feet than Reebok, and Reebok had a 3-year head start. All it would take to unseat the CFGames as the Super Bowl of exercise is a competition willing to match or beat the prize money. If Dubai pays out 500k for first place, there might not be a Games in 3 years. 

Those are my initial thoughts. I reserve the right to change them as more information comes out. If it comes out. 

In the meantime, I’ll see you on the floor. 

-M

 

What Jump Rope Should You Get for CrossFit?

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If you didn’t catch on in November, you may have missed that I love jump ropes. Almost as much as I love shoes. Double unders are a strength of mine carried over from my martial arts days, so when it comes time to play a CrossFit game, I am happy when they show up. 

Because of this, I’ve tested a lot of ropes, and compiled a list of the best ones for what you care about. I've tested these so you don't have to waste money trying off-brand imitators. 

Stick to these recommendations and you’ll find the right rope. Come to train with me to figure out how to use it. 

Also, I have no affiliate interest in these ropes. I just want you to not hate double unders. 

The Overall Champ: RPM Session

I was graciously gifted the handles to this rope before the 2017 Open, and I ordered a cable immediately so I could smoke 17.5. This thing is fast, light, and comfortable. The weight of the cable is ideal: heavy enough to turn fast but light and thin enough to minimize fatigue. The handles are simple and no-nonsense cylinders with a solid grip. The bushing turning mechanism is my only complaint: it’s sufficient, not perfect. I like ball bearings and more  y-axis on my ropes, and I’d like a slightly longer handle. 

Price: $53 (they now make a less expensive plastic version called the Sprint. Haven't tried it, but it seems like it'd be a good $35 option)

The Respectable Choice: RxSmartGear Ropes

These ropes are awesome for the most part. Ball bearing turning mechanism, comfortable handles, and thin/fast cables have helped me get lots of people their first dubs. The handles are a little short and get grimy after a while, but the thickness makes them overall easy to turn and ergonomic.

My number one complaint with this brand is that they continue to recommend thicker ropes to learn double unders. Thicker ropes, in my experience, mean the rope turns too slow for people to whip it around fast enough. Their reasoning makes sense enough (that you’ll feel the turn better with more cable weight), but I’ve yet to transition someone to an “Ultra” (1.8) rope without an improvement. Don’t go heavier than the 1.8 unless you want added conditioning. 

Price: $43

The Bare Minimum for Competing: Rogue’s SR mechanisms. 

Shout out: I think this is the best technology in speed ropes. A single bearing that gives the rope 90-degrees of range along the y-axis as it turns as smoothly as any other handle along the x-axis. It’s simple, elegant, durable, and makes getting double unders a matter of skill and not technology. The bottom line is that the tech won’t get in the way, and you can go moderately fast. 

That being said, there’s something on every Rogue SR rope (that I’ve tried) that I’ve absolutely hated. The Froning cable is stupid light and gets hung up just on air resistance. The Speal handle is too short. The SR-1 flagship feels flimsy and doesn’t turn fast enough for my liking. On almost all these ropes, I prefer a fixed cable to one that allows for the handles to slide up next to each other like these do. I haven’t tried the aluminum handle rope or the SR-2 (which appears to check a lot of boxes for me), but if I’m going to drop another $50+ on a rope, I’m going to go with an RPM, or the EVO (the last rope listed).

Price: $15-$50

The Cheapest: Rogue Plastic Speed Ropes

A $10 Rogue Plastic rope will get you from zero to 100+ double unders. It’s completely acceptable, if crude. If you struggle with jumping rope, however, a higher-quality rope can make learning more fun and more productive. 

Price: $10

The Overlooked Learning Tool: Buddy Lee Licorice Ropes

You don’t need a fancy wire rope to improve. Doubles and triples are doable with this toy-like masterpiece, and it’s adjustable and low-stakes if you miss. Getting more than 100 doubles would be pretty taxing on this rope compared to others on this list, however. 

I also think this is one of the most overlooked ways to improve your jump rope abilities outside of a double under context. Just skipping rope on this thing will condition you pretty well in a pinch, and you can do some nifty freestyle tricks with it as well. 

Price: $12

The Entirely Excessive but Absolutely Awesome: The RX EVO Rope. 

I tried this sucker at the 2017 CrossFit Games, thinking it couldn’t possibly be worth the $130 price tag. After trying it, I may fight you about that. 

This thing is recklessly fast, with almost everything I look for in a rope: balanced handle weight and (not too heavy or light), thin but heavy rope (they actually offer two styles, one for dubs and one that is stiffer(!) for triples and more), swivel bearing mechanism that is almost imperceptible.

They named it the EVO because they couldn't come up with a dumber acronym than Extreme Velocity Optimized (Yes, that's on the website). 

It's, in a word, pretentious. Maybe that's why I like it. It’s so over-the-top that they custom make each one, I’m assuming in the same factory that assembles fighter jet prototypes. 

I am not partial to the key-ring-on-a-swivel mechanism, but that’s a minor complaint. I’d deal with it. 

Price: $130 and all your street cred.

Conclusion.

Based on these descriptions, I hope you can come up with an idea of which rope you should acquire next. If not, give me a holler at mitch@crossfitglenellyn.com

I haven't tried Starbii jump ropes, but they look okay. The name is just stupid and they look stupid. Just don't send me links to Amazon knockoffs and expect a kind opinion. I think almost all of them are garbage. 

P.S. One important thing I want to mention is that the RPM, RX, and EVO ropes are going to be the ones that hurt the most when you miss. High risk, high reward. 

Should You Do The Open? Pros and Cons of the CrossFit Games First Stage

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You’ve heard us mention the Open in the last couple weeks and months, whether in the context of a workout you’re about to do or an event you might want to sign up for. For us, the Open is an amazing mixed bag of pros and cons, and your decision to participate in some capacity is going to depend on a couple of things. 

First off, here’s what the Open is: a 5-week competition produced by the CrossFit Games team. At its core, it’s about qualifying people for the next stage in the competition, leading ultimately to the CrossFit Games in the summer. One workout is announced (in spectacular fashion) each week, and competitors log their scores on a worldwide leaderboard. 

So who should do the competition? The simple answer is “anyone who wants to,” but I’m going to go a little further. The value in the Open, in my mind, is fourfold: 

1) You get to compare yourself to everyone who does CrossFit around the world. 

Think there’s some warrior monk in the hills of Tibet who has a faster Fran time than you? Do some leaderboarding and find out. You can see how you stack up in almost any demographic you belong to, which can be a great experience for a lot of people, causing a cascade of emotions from “wow, I’m way better than I thought I was,” to “holy cow I need to work on some stuff.” If you are enthusiastic about making progress and seeing the truth of your fitness, there may be no better opportunity. 

2) You get to track your fitness year-over-year.

A huge benefit to the Open scoring and tracking is the data over time. It’s very similar to why we use SugarWOD: to compare these snapshots of fitness as time goes on. Peaking for one event or competition is one thing, but our philosophy of fitness as a lifelong pursuit means that we want to know if our abilities are trending up or not. Being in the top 10k last year can drive you to push for that top 5k this year. 

Which brings me to my next point: 

3) Competition drives acute progress.

When there’s a time-bound external goal, you’re incentivized to do just a little more, and make some beneficial changes based around that goal. For most of us, fitness competitions are the perfect time to do things to improve performance that may not always be worth it in daily life. Maybe that means giving up alcohol for the duration of the 5 weeks, maybe that means getting more vegetables or counting your calories so you can perform better, or maybe it means signing up for some 1-on-1 sessions to get those double unders, or those toes-to-bar, or those muscle ups. 

There are times to sprint forward in your fitness and make some trade-offs that at other times, for more conservative or wholistic goals, don’t make as much sense. If you’ve been wanting to dial something in, the Open can be a perfect moment for that. 

4) The Open is a blast. 

We do the Open workouts on Fridays. At 4:30, we gather and get our scorecards out, blast the music, and go all-out. Friday Night Lights make for some amazing memories, and participating in the “main event” of the evening is super fun. Watching people get their first muscle ups, or PR their cleans, or just sell out for the workout garners a chorus cheers and “oohs” from the spectators, and we get some great photos as well. The atmosphere is electric, and great to be a part of. 

But it's is definitely not for everyone. 

For example: I’m not doing the Open this year. 

Who should not do the Open?

My health has suffered for the last two months, and I’m not in a sturdy enough place to give the effort I would want to give in those workouts. There’s no scenario in which I am happy with how I do if I were to sign up. And the intensity of the workload itself could cause me to slide back into illness. 

This makes me sad, as it's one of my favorite events of the year, but I am going to make the best choice for my long-term health. 

Reasons you might not want to do the Open could include health, like me, or it could come down to something else. The main question I would have you ask is this: 

Would doing the Open move me towards or away from my main goals?

At CFGE, we want to know what you want to accomplish, and then help you get there. For a lot of people, the Open will do that. For others, it’s a distraction. The Open does not define the gym, but we want it to enhance your journey as much as possible, whether you sign up or not. 

So whether it's for 18.1 or your regularly scheduled Glen Ellyn programming, I'll see you on the floor.

-M

If you have questions about your specific situation and the Open, or want to talk about dialing in your training/nutrition for it, send me an email (mitch@crossfitglenellyn.com).

Are You Strong? Context-Specific Strength in Fitness

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I want to talk a little about Context-Specific Strength today, in part because of the WOD at CrossFit Glen Ellyn. We’re doing a couplet of chest-to-bar kipping pull-ups and “squat” snatches at a moderate weight, which causes steam to come out of the ears of some orthopedics and anti-CrossFit keyboard warriors. It’s a hard workout that serves to ask an interesting question: 

Are you strong in this context? 

Strength doesn’t exist outside of a task. Lifting a bag of dog food is a task that requires strength, as is  running. When we’re talking about testing or training strength, what we’re talking about is somehow challenging your posture and position. To train maximal strength, we do this rested, but we don't always have the choice of being rested when the world asks us to be strong.  

Traditionally the snatch is done at a low heart rate, with lots of rest in between sets, because it’s a movement with so much nuance that it challenges posture and position all by itself, and because its utility is in training power (speed+strength). 

So when we do seven chest-to-bar pull-ups, a couple things happen: your heart rate goes up, your grip gets a little fatigued, and your lungs start working faster. Now, when you go to lift the bar, you’re breathing heavy and can’t get as still, your grip doesn’t hold onto the bar as strongly (hook grip, guys), and you’re going to create a moment of extreme blood pressure if you need to hold your breath at all to lift the bar. The demand can turn an easy weight into an unreasonable weight. It can turn a good lifter into a hot mess.  

So when are you strong? When your heart rate is 70? How about 170? That’s what we want to train today, not just because 17.3 had these movements in it and it might come up this year in the Open. We want to train strength under duress because we want to have as much strength available to us in as many different contexts as possible. 

This is a big reason a lot of people are turned off of CrossFit. No, the Olympic lifts weren't designed for this, and no, it's not the highest and best use of the Olympic lifts. But it's part of the sport, and I don't believe it's unreasonable to ask, every once in a while, everyone from "elite" athletes to lifestyle fitness enthusiasts to perform technical lifts in a manufactured panic.

Snatches and pull-ups aren’t the only way to train this, of course. It’s just a fun way to train this, and if you're preparing for the Open, the best predictor of success is going to be tests they've already done. So if you haven’t done the workout yet today, take care of some shoulder mobility, prep your calluses, and visualize yourself maintaining good form when it feels like you’re breathing through a coffee straw at Everest base camp. 

Load the bar smart, and have some fun. 

See you on the floor

-M

A Primer on Protein Shakes

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Today we’re going to go into some geeky detail about how to get enough protein, and where to get it from. 

I wrote a post last year about the basics of whole food protein, so if you're interested in that, most of it holds up still. 

Let’s talk about the king of supplements: the protein shake. 

What it is: 

Protein powders are a concentrated form of dietary protein used to supplement one’s protein intake for one purpose or another. They come from all sorts of sources: 

  • Milk
  • Soy
  • Rice
  • Egg
  • Beef
  • Hemp
  • Peas

And some other strange place like artichokes. It needs to have a high amount of protein when isolated and powdered. It’s common to find protein powders fortified with other vitamins, minerals, or performance enhancing agents (not to mention flavors). They are almost always highly processed and refined so they don’t spoil after an hour on the shelf. 

The idea is to have a fast, portable, and (lastly, apparently) tasty way to increase your protein intake.  

When to use protein shakes

The most common reason you’ll see people in the gym using protein shakes is to recover from their workouts and get protein in their system quickly post-WOD. Exercise, especially weight training, is about creating a stress and recovering from that stress. Protein intake needs to be adequate in order to experience the full benefits from a training program. 

For those in our 6-Week Challenge program, we use protein shakes as a way to increase protein intake without adding other non-protein calories from sugar or fat. That allows us to be precise with our short-term goal tracking. 

Some people will use a protein shake as a meal-replacement to minimize overall calories. This can work, but I usually don’t recommend it, as the meal satisfaction is usually low which I’ve found increases likelihood of falling off the wagon. 

Window of gains? 

Some people say that you need to chug protein immediately after you stop training in order to experience the most gains during the so-called “anabolic window” where muscle is most rapidly built. True or false? 

Both. 

A review that looked at a collection of protein intake studies found that there was no correlation between protein timing and muscle growth within 4-6 hours post-workout. The clock doesn’t tick down  quickly before you turn into a scrawny pumpkin 30 minutes post workout. The most important factor for overall muscle building is the total daily protein intake. 

However, Just because it’s acceptable to wait before eating your post-workout protein doesn’t mean it’s optimal. Especially if you’re trying to maximize your performance in the gym or on the field. Those studies isolated protein intake and not overall post-workout nutrition.

Post-workout, you have a couple of things working in your favor. Your body will be looking to repair itself. Everything will be flowing faster, and it’ll be trying to grab raw materials. So by flooding the bloodstream with glucose and amino acids, we can make the repair process start faster and take advantage of some efficiency boosts from the training session. 

A great post-workout shake should be taken soon after exercise (wait until after you are cooled-down and your mobility work is done), and will include protein and carbohydrates. When we’re talking about CrossFit, we’re talking about glycogen (stored carbs) metabolism, which is most effectively replenished immediately after setting the weights down. 

In short: if you want to lose weight or stay optimally healthy, don’t sweat the post-workout shake if you don’t want to (better yet, just use BCAAs instead). If you want to breathe fire and get the most out of your training, shake it up fast. 

What’s the best protein? 

We evaluate protein “goodness” from a few factors. We want it to be protein-dense, low in carbs (we’d be adding those in ourselves if we wanted them for post-workout purposes), and easily available. 

Again, it seems taste is often forgotten. 

Generally, we digest and absorb a higher percentage of the protein in powders based on animal protein sources (whey, egg, beef, etc.) than we do from plant sources, but fortifications to the plant products often make them competitive. Beyond that, there are different methods of distilling the protein compounds from each source that make them more or less digestible or, mostly, expensive. Whey protein can be concentrated, isolated, hydrolyzed, or ionized, for example, and there are marginal differences to each process. If you’re going with whey,  

The main protein we carry right now at CFGE is rice-based. In my anecdotal experience, it has been just as effective as other powders, but it is really clean. I’ve never had issues digesting it, even on my worst days. At best you could describe my digestion as “fragile."

How much do I need? 

Most people training at the level we do need about .7g of protein per pound of bodyweight (140g/day for a 200lb person). That is total daily intake at the low level. For those of us trying to add muscle aggressively or improve performance, shoot for 1g per pound of bodyweight. If you’re sedentary (first of all, shame), shoot for at least .7g, and don’t do any supplemental carbs on top of your normal intake. 

Post workout, you want enough to jumpstart the process known as protein synthesis. This is your body working to take proteins and amino acids and put them to work, and it occurs when you’re recovering from training or when you consume a sufficient amount of protein. After a workout, start with about 20g protein for women, 30g for men to recover. If you’re in the camp that needs carbs as well, to hit a 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein (40g carbs, 20g protein for ladies, and 60:30 for guys).

Those recommendations are pretty standard across sports science when it comes to high intensity weight or anaerobic training sessions, or long aerobic sessions. If you don’t hit it that hard, peel back on the carbs. You have to earn them. 

Other concerns: 

A lot of proteins are created from some of the most common allergens: eggs, milk, soy, beef, etc. It’s one of the reasons we carry rice protein as our primary option. If you have a dairy allergy or are lactose intolerant, you still might be able to consume whey protein in a clean hydrolyzed or ionized form, as most of the lactose and other milk solids have been filtered out. Then again, you might not. 

If you’re looking for optimal health instead of peak performance, you may want to temper your shake-chugging a bit. Post-workout nutrition is great, and we can get a ton of “gainz” by taking advantage of the anabolic window. But after a high-intensity training session, you’re firmly in sympathetic nervous system response (fight-or-flight), which optimizes your body’s functions towards survival mechanisms. That means digestion is not going to be as smooth. That is mitigated by fast-digesting powders and sugars, but peak health might better be achieved by postponing the post-workout shake by 15-30 minutes when you’ve activated the parasympathetic (rest-and-digest) nervous system. Just something I’m playing around with. 

Hope you enjoyed your primer on all things protein. Thanks to Katie M. from CFGE for the question. 

If you have questions, ask away.

As a bonus, I’ve made this handy infographic for you to figure out where you might see the most benefit from today’s topic. 

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Our Second Nutrition Habit is Still Not About What To Eat.

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Note: this habit is most useful when trying to lose or maintain your weight. If you’re bulking, this is a good thing to keep in your back pocket for cutting season. 

You don't need to count calories to lose weight. 

Don’t get me wrong, we can be extremely precise with your nutrition. We can count macros and calories and bust out your ten-decimal scale to get to that 6-pack. 

Or we could just do this thing and call it good, getting 95% of those labor-intensive methods' results.

The second nutrition habit we teach at CFGE is, again, simple but not easy. It’s this: 

Stop eating when you’re 80% full. 

Like I’ve said before in the first habit, meal satiety is more closely tied to the time you’ve spent eating than the amount of food you’ve eaten. The hormones that regulate your appetite and how satisfied you are with your food tend to placate you after about 15-20 minutes. 

That being said, you can’t just eat a single bite, wait 20 minutes, and be full and satisfied until your next meal. What we’re looking for is 80% “fullness.”

This does a couple things.

First and most importantly, it makes you pay attention to what’s really happening in your body as you eat. Instead of looking for the amount of food to be perfect on your plate, you’re gauging how you want to feel after you’re done. Way less likely to regret your meal or have to loosen your belt. 

Second, it can minimize the amount of calories you ingest so you get what you need to thrive. Fullness is not the goal, satisfaction is the goal. We’re trying to satisfy your body’s need for nourishment and fuel, not overflow that need. When you’re trying to lose weight, 80% is often enough to cause fat loss without being so underfed that you lose muscle as well. 

So am I just saying, “eat whatever you want, just do it slowly and stop before you’re full?”

“Be mindful?”

“Everything in moderation?” 

Nope nope nope and nope. 

For people trying to lose weight, the “fullness meter” feelings in the body can be pretty dysfunctional, so "listening to your body” could just lead to overeating without ever feeling 80% full.

We need to practice to let our bodies change slowly (pretty much the only way they change permanently).

For this, we play “the Hunger Game.”

You need to be able to distinguish between “want to eat” feelings and “need to eat” feelings; what true hunger feels like (don’t worry, I’m not recommending a huge fast or trendy cleanse). 

Ask yourself if you're hungry or if you want food. These things overlap, but are not the same. You'll get better at it. 

You can also ask yourself questions about the ritual of eating. For a lot of people, taking stock in where they are, who is with them, what they're thinking and feeling before and during their meals can provide other insights into their ability to regulate food quantity. 

So as you’re eating your meals slowly, chewing completely, and enjoying your food, you can be assessing your fullness and satisfaction as you go. Eating mostly real, whole foods make tuning into the body’s signals way easier than eating processed or hyperpalatable foods, but it’s only after going over these first two “how to eat” habits can we get into the nuts and bolts of “what and how much exactly to eat.”

Oftentimes we can make a ton of progress towards long-term goals (read: never putting the weight back on) with just these first two habits. 

Stay tuned for more on food and training from your friendly neighborhood coach. 

-M

 

TIME! How to Go Faster Without Getting Fitter in CrossFit

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Training smarter is more important than training hard.
— Joe DeFranco

"Watt" can you do? 

The operating theory behind CrossFit is that if you can complete more work in less time, you are more fit. Your fitness is what you can do. Power output is the goal. Or is it? 

In mixed modal events, there are ways to increase your “power output” with no extra metabolic load. Put simply, there are ways you can go faster and get better scores in workouts without being better. 

Time is the goal. Rounds+reps is the goal. 

A great example of this was in the Open last year, when dumbbell snatches were performed in workout 17.1. After the live announcement, the community quickly found that the method of cycling the reps demonstrated by Fikowski and Vellner was not the ideal way to go. Both athletes would snatch the weight with their right hand and put it down with their right hand, then switch hands with the weight resting on the ground, then snatch it with their other hand. When video submissions of seemingly inhuman times popped up, we saw a circus trick drop from the top of each rep. Switching hands on the way down (thus keeping tension in the system) saved almost a second every rep with little to no added fatigue. Add up 150 reps of that, and you’ve got at least a minute shaved off. Again, with no added fatigue. 

If you’ve read Tim Ferriss’s The Four-Hour Body, there was a section in it where a coach who worked with NFL hopefuls did the same type of thing. In the 20-yard shuttle test, he’d routinely drop athlete’s times by a statistically significant amount in a single hour just by altering one thing: their dominant side. By switching from a right-handed (right-footed?) start to a left-handed start, he’d cut an entire single step out of a 5-second test. 

Big money for small changes. 

Let’s break down a workout so you can see how to think about this type of thing: 

Glen Ellyn WOD 18Oct2017: “Box Puzzle”

5 Rounds for Time

10 Box Jump+Step Down 24”/20”

7 Shoulder-to-Overhead 135/95

 

The “step-down” portion of this metcon makes it slower than a rebounding jump workout, but not that slow. It’s a sprint (i.e. a sub 5-minute glycolytic-ish effort), and both of the movements are short hip-extensions that fry your quads. Let’s assume, however, that you have the requisite strength to go unbroken on all the STOH, and that you are well-conditioned enough to not stop on your jumps. This is about shaving time without getting fitter, right? 

So here’s where you shave stuff. 

1) Cycle your barbell

Duh. Power clean right into the first jerk. When you lower the bar, use your legs to absorb the weight and push right into the second rep. If you’re strong enough to push press it without hitting a sticking point, do it. 

2) No stutter-steps

When you step down from the box-jump, you should be jumping the instant your second foot hits the ground to minimize contact time and mimic a rebounding jump. 

3) Jump high

The height of the box isn’t ridiculous, so you should aim to land above parallel on top of it. As close to standing up as possible so you don’t have to pop up out of a deep squat from every jump. 

4) Transition smart

No chalk breaks; you don’t need it for this short of a workout. Barbell should be right behind the box so you basically turn around and jump before the bar stops bouncing (after you’ve made sure it’s not going to hit anyone).

5) Working tension, not peak tension

Fit people with great form often use more energy than they need to when they’re cycling medium weight barbells. Don’t hold your breath. Instead, breathe on the jerks like you would on a kettlebell swing. Controlled, and as loose as you can get away with whilst still keeping the midline stable. 

The winning time for this workout was 3:44, but I believe that 3:20 is within reason for that person, and that sub-3:00 is plausible. 

So there are tricks, tips, tactics that can improve your “fitness,” especially in the testing events and competitions. And in sprint events like 2017 Regionals event 6, a whole season can come down to the wire, and two hypothetical athletes who are biologically identical from a metabolic standpoint can finish ten places apart. 

But are you fitter? 

Yes and no.

It’s not as straightforward as measuring fitness through VO2 max or some other pure method of power-output tracking. I like my tests to include technique work because I like technique (surprised?), but I also recognize the need for things where there are very few places to hide. 100 burpees for time. 10 minutes on the Airdyne. An hour on the rower. Those are all good events that minimize (but can’t eliminate) the gaming aspect of the test. 

But realize this as well: “fitness” in other contexts can cover this definition, and CrossFit may very well absorb it into their ideology. Knowledge and strategy is a competitive advantage. Form, mobility, tactics, etc. are all tools that you can use to inch or jump your way up the leaderboard. And it’s fair. The Darwinian definition of fitness includes anything that accomplishes the basic mission: eat and procreate. Not everyone is a perfect hunter, but everyone has to kill and eat. Figuratively speaking. 

This type of “gaming” events can take place in your everyday life as well. At risk of sounding a little too biohacky, think about ways you might shift something up in your daily schedule so that it costs you nothing extra but saves you time, money, decision-making energy, stress, etc. 

Part of the journey of fitness is leveraging your strengths and picking up points where you can. But it's obviously not everything. Training, lifting, working out, should be put in the context of your goals. If your goal is to look good, feel good, or live forever, these recommendations might only marginally apply to you. Maybe getting to your goal means accepting a drop in conditioning to improve your strength, or a reduction in glycolytic output in order to improve your aerobic base, or it might mean losing every workout for a year while you re-tool your positions to make sure that you’re healthy enough to train for 10, 20, 30 more years. Power output, now and future, is one goal. A good one, but deciding where it fits in your hierarchy of priorities is up to you.

And in the meantime, maybe you can shave a couple seconds off your times using these tips. 

#beatduffy

-M

Why Weightlifting? 5 Reasons to Include the Olympic Lifts in your Training

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[P]ractice of the Olympic lifts teaches an athlete how to apply large amounts of force
— Artie Dreschler

Stop me if you’ve heard these: 

“I don’t want to get too bulky.”

“Lifting heavy weights scares me.”

“I don’t care about using the barbell at all.”

“Olympic lifting is dangerous the way CrossFitters do it."

Okay I’ll stop. 

One of the hangups people have when they start CrossFit is how much weightlifting we do. The belief that weights are the direct path to "bulky unattractive muscles" on women is one of the big offenders, and a preoccupation with the complexity and perceived danger of the lifts. 

On the other hand, for the initiated, it’s often one of the best parts of training. Some people cherry pick barbell workouts, and don’t think I don’t know who you are. Weightlifting classes are a popular offering at CrossFit gyms, and some people take their proficiency with the lifts for granted. 

So I’m here to drop some truth bombs on both camps: why we utilize the snatch and clean+jerk and their variations in our general program. 

1- More. Power. Less. Bulk.

The Olympic lifts are unparalleled in their ability to develop explosive power in your musculature. They make you jump higher, sprint faster, and pick up things safer while keeping the muscles the same size. So far from being movements that necessarily “bulk” you up, what they do is make each muscle turn on faster and produce more strength for its size. It's great for weight class athletes and anyone else who just wants to stay/get lean and get/stay strong. 

The geeky terms for this, if you want to look them up, are as follows: 

  • Rate of force development
  • Kinetic chain integration
  • Neural recruitment

Basically, you can get moving faster, with more of your muscles, more efficiently. 

2- Use everything. 

From the pull to the squat, you’re going to use every muscle you have to complete a successful Olympic lift. And whether you’re training for total strength or some form of conditioning stimulus, there’s value in using your whole body in concert to accomplish a task. It’s the epitome of functional fitness. 

3- Stretchy strong. 

This is where you should evaluate whether or not you should be doing the lifts in your own training. The positions required for the snatch, clean, and jerk, are difficult, but they demonstrate “full” range of motion. It shows me a person’s mobility and flexibility, and gives me a great idea of what to do to improve their flexibility in ways that more isolated movements can’t. At CrossFit Glen Ellyn, mobility and flexibility work is baked into the program, so we progress everyone towards safe and productive positions. 

On top of that, you need to have access to your strength in these ranges, which is different from other flexibility practices. I want you to be flexible and strong, unlike the stocky immobile meathead stereotype. These are assessments and training moves. 

4- Skill transfer. 

I’ll go into this topic a little more deeply later, but the coordination required to balance an Olympic lift is intense, even at light weights. You’re passing through a variety of shapes in relationship to an external load that mimic dozens of other movements in CrossFit and other sports. As a result, the more effort you put into perfecting your Olympic lifts, the better all your other skills get. You get better at CrossFit, but you also get better at learning new skills. 

5- Competing in a sport? Double down. 

If you are a competitor in sports (especially CrossFit as a sport), you need to be good at weightlifting. At one point, the Olympic lifts and their pieces accounted for 36% of the movements and tests in the CrossFit Games season. Now with the focus on dumbbells and odd objects, that’s intentionally lower, but we still see heavy lifts as part of the “Tests of Fitness.” 

You want to be able to move a lot of weight, but you need to do it quickly. While the power lifts (squat, bench, deadlift) are great at developing top-end strength, they can actually cause your athletic performance to decline as they increase, depending on the speed and agility demands of  your sport and position. 

For conventional sports, it goes back to #4, Skill Transfer:

All sports require different amounts of muscle synchronization, balance, flexibility, and coordination as well as strength, speed, power, and metabolic development. Olympic weightlifting provides development in all these areas.
— Philip Sabatini

 You want to be able to move a lot of weight, but you need to do it quickly. While the power lifts (squat, bench, deadlift) are great at developing top-end strength, they can actually cause your athletic performance to decline as they increase, depending on the speed and agility demands of  your sport and position. 

Conclusion

If you’re not doing a good deal of weightlifting in your program, or you intentionally skip snatch day, then hopefully this cursory overview gave you something to think about. If this stuff is your favorite, then you should now have more insight into why you love it so much and why we’re doing split jerks today. 

-M

P.S. These lifts are complex, so it’s best to learn them from a qualified coach. We’re pretty good at CrossFit Glen Ellyn, so you can email mitch@crossfitglenellyn.com for 1-on-1 attention.

P.P.S. I also have recommendations if you want to make this your sport. I’m not the best WL coach in the area, but I have a list of people who are. Hit me up for that as well and I’ll help you out. 

The First Nutrition Habit We Teach Has Nothing To Do With What to Eat

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"What to eat" is important, but...

For all the competing nutrition philosophies out there— macros, paleo, vegetarian, etc. — it’s normal to wonder how to get the right amount of food, and from the right places. 

Do I eat meat? How much? What about bread? Will gluten kill me? If I count my calories, I’ll lose weight, right? 

Those are all valid questions, but they’re also an example of misplaced precision. They’re out of order, and can’t be answered correctly for each individual until we get some baselines established. 

The baselines I’m talking about are cornerstone nutrition habits that get results for people regardless of their nutritional intake.

The first one is simple, but not easy:

Slow down. 

Think about how you eat first.

Eat your food slowly. Chew it completely. Take a second to breathe before your next bite. 

That’s it. And its effects are far-reaching.

The benefits of eating slowly cascade throughout the digestive process. On a macro level,  it means that we’ll be eating less food overall. The process of feeling “full” after a meal is actually more of a time-delay than a volume measurement. Your body will start feeling full about 20 minutes after you start eating, because that’s the delay between when you start eating and when the brain can send out signals to let you know you’re good, you’ve had enough. 

For a long time, my goal was to gain weight and put on muscle. This meant getting more food in the body than it needed just to maintain its current state (which is all the body ever wants to do, by the way). I was racing the clock to get as many calories in as I could before the brain hit the buzzer.

This is what a lot of people do without realizing it. There are a lot of calories that sneak by because we just can’t feel full yet. For those of you trying to lose weight, you need to give it time. 

This also improves your satisfaction with meals, which is different from fullness. Fullness is utility, whereas satisfaction is enjoyment. It’s what minimalism gurus are always talking about: live in the moment. Or, as I like to say, chew in the moment. 

Digestion improves with a slower pace as well. One example of this is with carbohydrates, which get broken down via a substance called salivary amylase during mastication. Plus, your gut and stomach take time to “warm up” and get ready to process your food by producing enzymes and acid that breaks it down. Don’t surprise your GI tract by shotgunning your meals. 

Simply put: the more you chew, the easier it is to digest your food.   

So here are the action steps: 

  1. Chew your food 20x per mouthful. Once this is habitual, upgrade to 30x. 
  2. Set your utensils down between bites. 

All of this leads to a healthier relationship with food. This sounds like a buzzphrase, and it kind of is, but it goes far beyond just weight loss. Slowing down leads to smaller portions, better digested, that are usually made up of better food. Have you ever tried to chew crappy processed food like a hot dog 30 times? Not so good. Real food tends to keep its appeal. 

This is just one of the habits that can lead to better body composition results like losing fat and building muscle without even looking at your food choices. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter what you eat (not even close), but there are things that we need to get in line before applying precise methods. What’s the point in counting macros if you’re missing out on 10-20% of your nutrition because you don’t chew your food? What’s the point of measuring intake of vitamins to the IU if we don’t know what’s getting absorbed? 

This week, try the two steps listed above and see if you up your meal satisfaction. Comment if you’ve tried this before, and happy chewing. 

-M 

P.S. If you want more guidance with your weight loss or nutrition journey, we offer Nutrition Coaching that can turn you into the healthiest person you know. 

Does CrossFit Work? Data From the Summer Programming at CFGE

One of the unique features of CrossFit is that we measure it. It's something that makes the entire community stand out from most of the fitness world.

It's why we as a gym switched over from a pen-and-paper model of performance tracking to a system that records our data automatically. Or, it's supposed to. 

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We measure power output. We focus on one question: what can you do, and how fast did you do it? (note: those of you who know me will also note that I ask how well you did it also, as we can often improve numbers without improving fitness simply by moving better)

Because of that, we have to test, measure, train, and then re-test. 

The results of this cycle, from July to August, are in.

I'm proud of you guys.

If it sounds like I'm tooting my own horn, know that I'm tooting our collective team horn.

All results were calculated via TrainHeroic data exported to some spreadsheets. I tracked the people who recorded scores on both days that the workouts were tested, even if they didn't improve or went backwards. That only happened twice out of 70+ data points. I also eliminated scores where the workout was scaled differently (e.g. 65lbs thrusters vs 55lbs thrusters).

Fran: 

The workout is-

21-15-9 reps for time

Thrusters 95/65

Pullups

 

July Average Time- 5:22

September Average Time- 4:50

While we collectively as a gym don't have an average Fran time of 4:50, the people who logged both days were among the faster athletes. 

On average, we PRd by over 30 seconds on a 5-minute workout, with some performances in the 3-minute range.

DT

One of our gym's favorites.

5 Rounds for Time

12 Deadlifts 155/105

9 Hang Power Cleans 155/105

6 Shoulder-to-Overhead 155/105

July Average Time- 10:51

September Average Time- 9:43

We PRd that workout by over a minute as a group: 1:08 to be exact

 

Martha

This isn't an official "Girl" workout like Fran, but it gives us a really good look at the entire shoulder girdle's ability to work smoothly under fatigue. A decent combo of strength and conditioning in the tradition of CrossFit workouts, and it just so happened to fall on the first week of the Team Series where a similar structured workout was posted, so I honestly felt a little validated. 

Then again, it's not that unique of a workout. 

I digress

Martha is: 

21-15-9 reps for time

Overhead Squat 115/75

Bar-Facing Burpee

July Average Time- 8:19

September Average Time- 7:01

The average PR was again over a minute (1:18), which is around an 18% reduction in time. 

Some might call that statistically significant. 

Back Squat 2RM

We tested our 2RM Squat at the beginning of the cycle, and I was honestly a little nervous about predictably increasing those numbers. We lift a lot at this gym, so improving on already good numbers while focusing on conditioning pieces like the Metcons above is a little daunting. 

But you guys are amazing, it turns out, and crushed it. 

July Average 2RM: 213lbs

September Average 2RM: 239lbs

Average PR: 36lbs

We even had someone (admittedly a beginner) increase his PR by 80lbs, but I removed his score from the pool as an outlier.

Conclusion: training, tracking, and improving over time

Are there more metrics that we should be measuring in order to get a perfect picture of health? Of course. Power output is a correlate to health and fitness, but more details about what's happening under the hood of individuals like blood lipids and hormonal profiles would be needed for a blanket bill of health. 

That being said, it's a strong correlate.

CrossFit coaches often refer to their clients as "athletes," because that's how we view the people we help. They aren't training for a sport most of the time. They're training to chase kids around, to earn their desserts, and to keep their spouses interested. 

But the principles of training for life apply the same as they do for a competitive athlete. Nike ran a campaign that said "Stop exercising. Start training." and I agree with that sentiment. Exercise as it's understood in the culture at large is something you have to do to not die. It's a doctor's recommendation after comparing your physical results year after year, "you should exercise more," or it's the hamster wheel of burning calories on a treadmill. 

Training, on the other hand, is inherently purposeful. It begs the question: what are you training for? A marathon? A weightlifting meet? A barbecue volleyball game?

It doesn't have to be something competitive, either. Turns out the best way to not die is by seeking purpose in your training and trying to thrive. By simply measuring, training with a goal in mind, and measuring again, we can mimic the habits of the best athletes, coaches, and competitors in the world. 

Log your scores in TrainHeroic. Show up on Re-Test days. Do the program as it's written, and eat decently well and you will improve. 

You don't have to be the best. Just better than you were yesterday.

On to the Fall Program. 

-M

 

 

What Weightlifting Shoes Should I Get?

If you’re not familiar with weightlifting shoes, here’s the least you need to know:

For every sport, you need the right equipment to get the best performance. Even for those of you not competing in sport, having the right gear can make activities safer and more effective. That’s why we wear weightlifting shoes in the gym and go through the trouble of swapping footwear during a workout. They make lifting safer and better.

It’s not as simple as just getting the cheapest pair, or even the best pair. Weightlifting shoes are all made with different goals in mind, and not all of them are ideal for a CrossFit practitioner. Below are the best shoes for each training focus, from the serious lifter to the longevity-focused CrossFitter.

Best Shoes for Maximizing Performance in the Squat, Snatch, and Clean+Jerk

Nike Romaleos 2.

The third iteration of these is coming out soon, so this model is on sale across the board. They’re durable, almost bomb-proof. They’re stable, and make all of your lifts feel much more solid.

The main drawback is that they’re heavy. During gymnastics movements like toes-to-bar or muscle ups, they definitely take away from your performance. In addition, a lot of stability comes from the stiffness of the sole, which makes most athletic movements feel, well, rigid. Even things like burpees get a little harder when you’re wearing Romaleos.

These are best for ONLY squatting or Olympic lifting, so if that’s your focus, you can’t do better than this shoe.

Best for mixed modality training and lifting

The Inov8 FastLift.

They’re stable enough to squat heavy, and they have a heel raised to the same standard height as other lifting shoes. The main difference between these and most other lifting shoes is their light weight.

These are built like Inov8's trail runners, but with an ultralight heel and a bunch of lateral padding on the ankle. They also also feature a ridiculously flexible forefoot and toebox. This is what you want if you need some extra support and flexibility in deep squats, but also want a shoe for gymnastics, burpees and double unders.

I really like the Inov8 FastLift for this “Mixed Modality” category. I think they feel a little wobbly, but some amazing athletes swear by them (and, admittedly, I just tried someone else's on, and his feet are minuscule). 

Best Shoe for CrossFit Competition or If You Need to Run At All

Nike Metcon 2.

Don’t run in any kind of dedicated lifter. The heel will hurt you if you're some kind of heathen heel-striker, and no weightlifting shoe’s midfoot is built for any speed greater than a deliberate trudge up to the bar.

If you need to mix movements like running with any kind of lifting, you want a shoe built for CrossFit. The Reebok Nano is fine (go for the 2, 4, 6, or maybe the 7), but I’m partial to the Nike MetCon family. They’re stable all around, and flexible in the forefoot. They’re built for your feet to splay out and work hard during training, so the support is minimal (which is a good thing) and they’re super durable. Plus they look like a normal person’s shoe and don’t have “CROSSFIT” emblazoned across them anywhere.

On the negative side, they have a 4mm drop in the heel. I’d prefer 0mm, but the world isn’t ready for that I guess. As it is, the heel height doesn’t help enough with lifting but it still chronically shortens the heel chords. But that’s the minor qualm. The real problem with these is that they squeak. Like, they sound like pleather jeans when you walk around in a quiet room. Gyms are loud most of the time, so it’s rarely a problem, but man, are they squeaky.

With the MetCon 3 coming out recently, you can find some great deals on the 1s and 2s on most sites.

What are your favorite lifting shoes? Post in the comments below or email me at mitch@crossfitglenellyn.com to start a shoe debate!

April 2016 Athlete of the Month: John Carlin

What is your perfect pizza?

A magical Home Run Inn pizza where every piece has an outer crust. Sausage, mushrooms, and bell pepper.

Would you rather have no internet or no cell phone for the rest of your days?

No phone. Sent from my iPhone. 

You have been an integral part of the CFGE community since day one. What is your favorite thing about CFGE?

The gym's kindness shines every time I'm a decent mid-draft pick for any team games involving a ball.

What's the worst CrossFit movement you have had to judge in competition? 

The standard for handstand pushups during the Open is the worst. It needs to be eliminated or replaced with a short handstand walk. 

Bonus Questions

Aside from CFGE, what are some of your favorite things?

Sashimi, roller coasters, Sonos, nice eyeglasses. 

You need do save the planet by belting out a karaoke jam. What do you sing?

"Gay Bar" by Electric Six (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XNFokmDKrE)

May 2016 Athlete of the Month: Irene Brady

I truly believe that health is so important and is key to a fulfilled life.  I have been asked many many times "how old are you?" Are you 20 or 30 something?  "you must workout."  "do you lift weights?" On and on... It's very flattering to think people think of me that way. But it doesn't come without a price. 

Training. And eating healthy is the reason. 

Don't get me wrong I think I have good genes too but I work hard on my life.  Train 6 days a week and eat well. 

Now that I've found CFGE, I finally found a gym that has can take me to that next level of fitness and health

So thank you

I've learned so much already and it's been only been 8 months, I'm looking forward to the future 

1.  Would you rather have more money or more time?

Definitely more time, time to spend with loved ones and fulfill my dreams, money means nothing. 

2.  What comes on your perfect pizza?

Awww man I love pizza. Sausage, spinach, and mushrooms all day long.... Deep dish of course

3.  You are a familiar face at the 530a class.  What keeps you motivated to get up and start the day at CFGE?

Having 4 kids and a business is the only time, before they wake up.  Sets the tone for my day, awake , feeling strong, and ready for anything that may come my way. If I dont get it in , it doesn't happen!

4.  How many haircuts do you think you have given?  

That is a trick question, woah. It's a lot.  Approximately 100,000 and I'm far from retirement

Intro to Protein: What Is It, Where Do I Get It, and How Much Do I Need?

 Not that kind of intro...

Not that kind of intro...

You can’t out-train a bad diet. The work you put in when you’re in the gym will either be augmented or stunted by what you eat. So here’s the first order of business when we are looking at our food choices.

Here’s the least you need to know about protein, the first building block of a naturally strong diet.

What is protein? Protein isn’t just the powder we chug after a workout. It’s one of three main types of macronutrients (the others being carbohydrates and fat). The main benefit we associate with adequate protein intake is the repair and building of muscle. Muscle is expensive, energy-wise, so the more muscle we have, the more calories we burn at rest. If we want to make progress in the gym, we need to be eating enough protein.

Where do I get it? Protein comes from foods like meats, eggs, fish, fowl, milk, and some plant sources like beans and nuts. The most effective way to get your protein is by eating animals, but legumes and dense soy products like tofu are the best source of protein if you’re a vegetarian or vegan.

How much protein should you eat? About 1 gram per pound of bodyweight is the benchmark we’re looking for. That ensures that we are eating enough to recover from our workouts, build muscle, and keep our energy levels up. Plus, eating enough protein is sometimes physically challenging, as anyone who’s tried to chew through 16oz of plain chicken breasts can attest. That means we’re eating fewer calories from other foods that can hinder progress, and staying fuller for longer.

The best way to start losing weight and make progress in the gym is to eat enough protein.

That exact number is sometimes tough to figure out, so here’s the easiest way: eat 1 to 2 “palm-sized” portions of protein every meal. One to two chicken breasts, a burger patty or two, a healthy-sized steak. For eggs, eat as many as you can hold in one hand (that’s at least two). Your palm is different than my palm, so it’s a good estimator for your meals.

Sample Day of Meals: Mitch

Breakfast:

4 eggs (1 handful), scrambled with

1 chicken breast (another palm)

3 slices bacon

½ cup of broccoli

Lots of hot sauce

Lunch:

2 beef burger patties (2 palms; 12 oz total)

1 sweet potato

½ cup brussels sprouts

Snack:

1 can costco tuna (1 palm)

2 tbsp paleo mayo

½ apple

Dinner:

8oz cod (a little more than 1 palm)

½ cup broccoli

1 sweet potato

Total Protein: 190g

That’s it for our first food article of the Fall! If you have any questions about nutrition, let me know in the comments or talk to me in the gym.