By Robert Selders, Jr.
Nutrition is an important component of wellness, and a critical element of fitness. The right kind of nutritional mix, not only ensures that your body has the needed energy to function, but that it can perform at its peak. That is why choosing the right combination of foods is so important, as they will have a tremendous impact on the state of your mental and physical health.
All too often, we make the wrong choices when it comes to food. Americans are not only eating more – an average of 18.2 pounds of food per week, up 1.8 pounds from the 1970s – but it is more of the wrong types of foods. Our fat intake has increased by an extra half pound a week. We are ingesting a quarter pound more of meat, and one-third more sugars. This may also explain how we have become a society of overweight, couch potatoes.
Obesity is rampant in the U.S. and not just with adults, but among children as well. According to data collected from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), obesity has dramatically increased over the last twenty years. Over 32 percent of adult men and 35 percent of women were considered obese. For children aged 2 to 5 years, over 12.4% were obese, as were 17% of 6 to 11 year olds, and 17.5% of 12 to 19 year olds.
Obesity raises so many health consequences; I cannot even begin to list them all. Obesity can increase your chances of developing coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, endometrial, breast, and colon cancers, hypertension, stroke, liver and gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, infertility, sleep apnea, and respiratory problems. Fortunately, proper nutrition and exercise can effectively combat obesity and its resulting health consequences.
Do not underestimate the important role of nutrition in any fitness plan. Proper nutrition and exercise deserve equal attention. To succeed in meeting your fitness goals, you will need to find the right balance of both. In CrossFit’s theoretical hierarchy of development, nutrition is the foundation upon which all else is built (i.e. metabolic conditioning, gymnastics, weightlifting and throwing, and sport). Without proper nutrition, your training efforts will falter and your chances of succeeding diminish. Therefore, I cannot stress enough just how important it is to fuel your body with the right mix of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals, vitamins and water.
Much has been written on what the right mix of carbs, fats, and proteins should be. Current health guidelines suggest a diet comprised of 50 percent carbs, 35 percent protein and 15 percent fat. However, I believe a better nutrient balance would be 40 percent carbs, 30 percent protein and 30 percent fat. This approach is explained by Dr. Barry Sears in The Zone Diet and is supported by CrossFit. The Zone Diet’s 40:30:30 ratio provides one the greatest precision, efficacy, and health benefits of any defined nutrition plan currently out there.
The program does a good job of addressing the three pillars of sound nutrition: glucose (blood sugar) control, proper macronutrient proportion, and caloric restriction. All essential components not just for achieving top athletic performance, but for also preventing disease and fostering a health weight and long life.
Another nutrition program that ties in well with the CrossFit approach to nutrition and fitness is The Paleo Diet by Dr. Loren Cordain. The Paleo Diet follows the diet of our early ancestors when they were hunter-gatherers, before the advent of technology. It stresses eating foods that were available to early man such as meat, chicken, fish, eggs, fruit and berries, vegetables (especially fibrous and root vegetables), and nuts (except for peanuts and cashews). People on this program avoid grains, beans, potatoes, dairy products, sugar and salt.
The Paleo Diet focuses on a higher intake of protein, which helps reduce appetite and increase metabolism. More protein consumption also assists in the prevention of lean muscle loss. This nutritional approach also has been found to reduce the risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and concern. Both the Zone and Paleo Diets are good programs that complement CrossFit’s approach and warrant a closer look.
You only have one body in your lifetime. Abuse it and you will undoubtedly suffer in terms of your health and well-being. It may not happen overnight, and will likely take several years before you start to see the results of eating a poor diet filled with heavy fats and empty carbs, but it will eventually catch up with you. Then what will you do? Will you have the financial, emotional, and physical resources available to do something about it then?
Average life expectancy today is around 78 years. If you can effectively incorporate the right nutrition and fitness program into your life today, you may well live a long and independent life. Failure to do so will definitely impact your longevity, and likely leave you dependent on others for your basic care.
Do not make the mistake of putting off tomorrow what you need to start doing today. Start building that foundation of fitness by putting together a proper nutrition plan today. The long-term benefits will make your efforts well worthwhile.
Robert Selders, Jr. is a certified personal trainer, author, speaker, and the owner of 3Q Fitness CrossFit Garland located in the historic downtown square of Garland, TX. Learn more about how you can receive a free comprehensive consultation and no obligations CrossFit training trial; and get guaranteed results with his exercise and nutrition programs at www.CrossFit Garland.com.