Nutrition is a vital component to any athlete’s training program.  Whether your goal is to lose weight and change your body composition, increase energy throughout the day, improve your quality of sleep, improve your immune system or enhance athletic performance, the type of food and fluids you consume ultimately determine your success.

There are many types of diet programs out there and individual’s results vary.  Some of this is genetic so you must take this into account.  Every athlete must determine which program works for them and their needs to reach their goals.

As CrossFitters, we support several nutrition programs such as the Zone and Paleo diets.

The Zone Structure

  • 40% carbohydrates
  • 30 % protein
  • 30 % fat

Main objective: To regulate hormones or get them in “The Zone” by balancing macronutrients at every meal and snack.  The main focus is on balancing glucose and the insulin response.


The following are the simple Zone rules on carbohydrates.

  1. Consume primarily low-density carbohydrates, like fruits and fiber-rich vegetables.
  2. Eat primarily carbohydrates (~75%) that have a low glycemic index.
  3. Note the number of carbohydrate blocks per meal or snack.

For the palm of your hand apply the following rules.

  1. Never consume more lean protein than you can fit in the palm of your hand.
  2. Let the volume of the lean protein determine the volume of carbohydrates.  The volume of carbohydrates is the same as the volume of lean protein if you are consuming unfavorable carbohydrates and double the volume if you are consuming favorable carbohydrates.

Apply the following rules using your fingers.

  1. Eat five times a day.  These meals should colsist of 3 meals and 2 snacks unless you are on a 20+ block meal plan.
  2. Do not let more than 5 hours lapse between meals or snacks.
  3. Attempt not to eat more than 5 blocks of any macronutrient per meal.
  4. Verify that the nulber of carbohydrate blocks on one hand are balanced by the number of protein blocks on the other hand at every meal or snack.

The Zone ratios create structure but you are able to consume grains, dairy, soy and legumes.

The Paleo Diet

  • No grains
  • No dairy*
  • No soy
  • No legumes*

*I like dairy for exercise performance and peanut butter is delicious but I consume these items to keep on bulk muscle.  That should answer any questions with that one statement.  If you want to cut, drop the dairy.  That also means whey protein.  Go with egg protein (egg white powder may be better).

Competitors, I would stick with whey post-workout.  Peanuts are a legume and not a nut, therefore they’re out.

Main objective: To rid your body of harmful toxins and disease-forming agents by eating foods most commonly consumed by humans during the paleolithic era (before the advent of agriculture).

Foods that are out:

  • All dairy, including Saint’s milky, my milky and your milky.  Yogurt, cheese, creamer and whey protein are all out. Yikes!)
  • All grains, including steel-cut oats, rolled oats, brown rice, whole wheat grains, quinoa and anything else you assumed was healthy and alkaline. They’re acidic and unfavorable! And in a SHOCKER, ALL GRAIN BASED FLOURS, INCLUDING GLUTEN-FREE FLOURS.  Sorry for this one but it has to be done.
  • Legumes, including ALL BEANS, peanuts, peanut oil and peanut butter. Peas and soybeans are out.
  • Potatoes are OUT, but sweet potatoes/yams are in.
  • Salt containing foods, including almost all salad dressings and condiments, bacon (the cheering cooker), lunch meat, olives (NO WAY? Yes way!), salted nuts and salted spices.
  • All fatty meats are out. Fatty pork, fatty lamb, fatty sausage, fatty chicken wings. All out. Don’t look back if they’re calling to you. They’re hard to resist and in a moment of temptation could persuade you to come home ;-(
  • Soda including diet soda and fruit juices. Freshly squeezed juice is in for competitors.
  • Sweets including honey, molasses, corn syrup (for sure) and maple syrup.  Sorry but agave nectar is out.  It is 90% fructose and 10% glucose and there is some processing that takes place here.
  • Vinegar is out.  Just go for oil on your salad.
  • Check your vitamin/mineral supplements to make sure they do not contain rice starch, soy, wheat, etc.

Also, stay away from canned products, including meat, fish, fruit and veg.

So what in the world is in?

  • Lean protein including, game meats, eggs (especially egg whites), turkey, chicken and fish.
  • The following oils are in.  Olive oil, walnut oil (tons of omega-3), avocado oil, macadamia oil and coconut oil. Canola oil is out*.
  • Nuts including almonds and walnuts.
  • Dried spices not containing salt are in including, parsley, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, ginger, etc.
  • Try to stick with lower glycemic index fruit and veg.

* Research suggests canola oil may cause tissue damage in organs. Say what?!  Yep, I said it. OUT.

The Zone structure of 40/30/30 is absent but the discipline it takes to stick to this restrictive diet is a great challenge.  It can be done! You will be removing foods containing toxins and disease-forming agents from you diet.

Paleo/Zone Diet = Structure and Discipline

The ultimate diet would be consuming Paleolithic foods in the zone ratios of 40/30/30.