In Audio, Nutrition, Videos

February 27, 2009

Video Article

Pat Sherwood is one of CrossFit HQ’s top trainers. He is on the road most weekends at the various CrossFit Level 1 and Level 2 certification seminars. He is also a great athlete who is cranking out some very impressive WOD performances. Proper nutrition is essential for optimizing performance. But how can that happen with so much time on the road?

This video is the second in a series in which we get up close and personal with Pat and his eating. He brings his camera to the meal and we see exactly what happens.

In this episode, New Jersey Marriott Breakfast, Pat is in the throes of a post cheat meal hangover (even though he doesn’t drink!). His breakfast is typical for on the road: fatty meats, eggs, and peanut butter. This is hardly the 40-30-30 ration prescribed by the Zone, but Pat considers himself on an overall modified Zone diet.

The playful tone of the series lightens a serious issue. How can we fuel ourselves in the real world for optimal performance, balancing the demands of work, friends, and life? Pat’s solutions may or may not work for everyone, but these videos are one real example of how a serious athlete and trainer eats.

3min 11sec

Free Download


24 Comments on “Zone Chronicles: Jersey Marriott Breakfast”


wrote …

I am definitely a fan of the Zone Chronicles - more please!!!


wrote …

These Zone Chronicles are GREAT!! They have really helped to put things into perspective as I too travel quite frequently.


wrote …

I also travel quite a bit. Sometimes in a hotel for weeks. I'm happy to see/hear that I'm really about the same as Pat - I fact I ate the exact same meal as his TGIF episode just last week. Question - do you every use Zone Bars, Balance Bars, or anything like that? More of this!


wrote …

A friend of mine and I were out and he ordered a cheese and bacon fries app and I ate about half of it. About a half hour after finishing I felt like crap and feel sick and nauseous today. I really didn't enjoy the cheat all that much.


wrote …

The point to that last post was that I feel your disappointment in the cheesecake Pat.


wrote …

good stuff, this helps out.


wrote …

I have a question regarding Pat's 16 block strict days. Is that 16 blocks of each fat, protein, and carbs? Is that in one day or in one meal?


wrote …


Good stuff, I enjoy the ZC! You are going to catch some flak for not bringing a scale with you to breakfast, though. This is no way to act as a role model! ;-)

One thing I wonder, why no veggies at all? The carbs would be negligible for stuff like peppers, tomatoes, etc. These are usually available at any breakfast buffet and the vitamins and fibers sure wouldn't hurt.



wrote …

I get very very frustrated when a cheat day item is not all I want it to be. It can be so disappointing.
Perhaps a few others and I could start a journal article that lists the best of the cheat day items. Kind of a "Best of the Worst" list of culinary trouble ranked in order. I'm sure several varieties of ice cream, shakes, and sundaes will be in the top 10....I will go start the research portion right now.


wrote …

These are great. I love how Pat looked like he had a hard night of drinking after the cheat meal. Awesome stuff....


wrote …

pat, for being a beast, that was a weak effort on the rib dinner.

lukas, i can assure you that buffet had nothing that resembled veggies.


wrote …

Wait... am I missing something here? Please help me sort out my confusion.

Why is this the "zone chronicle" when a more appropriate name would be the "atkins chronicle?" I thought the zone was all about getting the strict 40/30/30 ratios of macro nutrients. Why post an article in which the author says "for whatever reason this seems to work for me..."

Didn't Dr Sears put a lot of time, energy and SCIENCE into his system? I'm not sure that I understand why crossfit endorses this diet, while most of the athletes do not really believe in it. I've also heard many crossfit coaches talk about 2x and 4x fat. By increasing the fat at all, doesn't it ruin the ratio of macronutrients that is supposed to be magical? If an athlete is unable to sustain calories, why would we increase fat only, and not increase overall calories while sustaining the magic ratios?

I feel like crossfit needs it's own nutritional program. Perhaps call it the crossfit-paleo, as this seems to be what is really being suggested, rather than endorsing the zone and doing something completely different.

Also, while I know that being on the road is difficult, should we really be encouraging bacon and sausage? While the author may be able to sustain his current body comp and performance like this, I question that this way of eating is going to support optimal health for the long haul. I have yet to hear or read anything that endorses the health benefits of saturated, animal based fats, yet in both of these zone chronicles, the author uses ranch dressing, bacon and sausage for fat sources. What about olive oil?

What happens to the 50 year old athlete who already has high cholesterol and blood pressure? It's one thing to eat these foods when you're a young, highly trained athlete, but for someone who is trying to use crossfit to drag themselves back into optimal health...

I'm not trying to be critical, but I do find articles like this a bit confusing. Thanks for any input.


wrote …

Holly- the Sears prescribes extra fats- 2X/4X for athletes depending on their needs because he claims they're hormonally neutral and don't interfere with the 'magic ratio' (which refers more to protein/carbs and insulin/glucagon than 40/30/30).

You'll get a decent amount of support around here for saturated animal fats and dietary cholesterol, usually, because their impact on heart disease is somewhat specious. "The Cholesterol Con" is an interesting book to read on this topic. Organ meats, eggs, and others are very high in dietary cholesterol and saturated fats, but appear to be just fine, and some of the results in earlier testing may have been due to our ignorance of the existence of trans-fats (a recent study on eggs caused the British National Health Service to remove its recommendation on restricting egg consumption).

Not to mention, at many hotel breakfast buffets, bacon and sausage is all you're going to get in terms of protein...


wrote …

holly, a couple of things.

dr sears did do an incredible amount of research and science for the zone. as discussed in his book, however, the prescribed zone ratio is actually a starting point. it cannot be identical for everyone - there is too much genetic variation for one macro profile to work exactly the same for all.

perhaps you are correct that this shouldn't be called the zone chronicles, in that, in fact pat is not "in the zone" on the road. that being said, he is a hard-core zoner at home - and i hear those vids will be aired as well.

finally, there has been evidence that animal and plant based saturated fat IS good for you - from wild/pastured based animals, as well as from coconut, or palm oil, for example. that being said, i am not naive enough to think the bacon at the marriott buffet is without hormones, nitrates, and other poor-quality nutrients... BUT one of the things pat is protecting against with the breakfast in the video (which is the main concerns with the zone, and long-term health for that matter) is hyperinsulinemia.


wrote …

Love the Zone chronicles!


replied to comment from Holly Herder

Your questions are valid. The reason we promote the Zone diet, and the reason that many folks don't follow the Zone but do Paleo, Anabolic, Metabolic, etc. is because of performance. If you look at the top athletes at the CrossFit Games, you see almost every single one has a different diet. The only reasonable conclusion is that diet is not simple.

The biggest known detriment to fitness and health is chronically elevated insulin, or hyperinsulinemia. You get that by eating too many carbs. Beyond that, there is little compelling evidence that any one solution works for everyone. This doesn't stop people from all walks promising solutions of all kinds.

Zone and modified Zone diets have been immensely successful for CrossFitters. I personally recommend it without hesitation because when people do it strictly, they get great results. I personally know of hundreds of folks who have had obvious and dramatic success with it, and I know one person who didn't (he already had a pretty good diet and was an elite performer). There are lots of folks who don't stick with it and don't get the results, but I don't count them. Still, that is a very real factor.

Pat spent a long time on a strict, unmodified Zone diet. He has tweaked it over the years to match his lifestyle and performance goals. The purpose of these videos, as the abstract above says, is not to teach you how to do the Zone. There are many other resources for that out there already. Instead, "Pat’s solutions may or may not work for everyone, but these videos are one real example of how a serious athlete and trainer eats."


wrote …

Hey Pat keep the chronicles coming brother...looks like you're having a great time. Well, except the feeling of having a hangover from your cheat day.

Anyway, could you share a little about why you do the single blocks of fat? Is because you like the way it leans you out and you still perform at a high level? And all all the other blocks for your 16 block prescription staying the same?

--Matt in southern VA


wrote …

Thanks for the opinions. This stuff is all very interesting and I always try to be receptive to new ideas and learn how I can use them to positively impact my own performance. Thanks to crossfit for continuing to bring thought provoking material to the masses.


wrote …


Please take some time to look into the astonishing number of peer-reviewed articles that show consumption of saturated fat is associated with increased risk of heart disease and the risk factors contributing to heart disease and additionally, the association between consumption of red meats and cancer. There are many factors to consider too when assessing the various nutrients beyond body composition. As someone mentioned earlier, someone in there 20s may be able to eat this way and still perform at a high level (probably not the highest he/she could achieve) but what about the people in there 50s who do Crossfit more recreationally. These folks absolutely do not need to be eating large amounts of saturated fats like cheese, bacon and sausage. Furthermore,I worry about anyone eating this way for long periods of time, no matter how good of shape they are in. I think Crossfit is awesome but the nutritional aspects of the program are weak at best. I would suggest reading some material from leading nutritional science researchers such as Dr. Walter Willett's "Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy" it's a down to earth book that's easy to read and based on the best research available with absolutely no bias towards the food industry.


wrote …

Tell that to the Masai then, who subsist on Meat, dairy and blood. They have among the best blood bio markers in the world (ie. low cholesterol levels and virtually no hypertension). While I'm not suggesting one drinks pure lard every day, I'm not worried about the bacon and the sausage Pat or whomever else is eating, since he's not eating it in super high quantities all the time. Your body needs saturated fat. I'm with EC, worry about nitrates and hormones. Freddy C eats a lot of red meat (from what I remember), just make sure your red meat is grass fed and comes from as good a source as possible. There are a lot of "associations" in "The China Study" as well, most of which are fallacious correlates, and nothing more. Correlation does not mean causation.


There are just as many "peer reviewed" articles showing that consumption of animal and plant based saturated fat is not associated with increased risk of heart disease but is actually athero protective. The villian lies in the refined carbohydrates and hyperinsulinemia.

I can only share my personal experience. I am relatively new to CrossFit but not to fitness. I was a fish eating vegetarian for 3 1/2 years and the subtle destruction of my health became apparent after the first year. Thyroid levels lowered, elevated fasting blood sugar, fatigue was constant, moods were unstable, thinking cloudy and an inability to focus. Workouts became a struggle along with impaired recovery. I initially blamed it on aging.

About 1 year ago I radically changed my nutrition out of desperation to feel better. I switched to a version of the Zone which I tweaked to work for me: 30% protein, 40% fat and 30% carbs. I eat wild/pastured animals, fish and fowl, organic vegetables, some fruit, little starh and no sugar. I eat the whole animal, not merely flesh meat. I had bloodwork done in the beginning, after 8 weeks and again in 6 months.

The results were atounding: fatigue disappeared, moods stabilized, mental clarity and focus dramatically improved. Blood sugar is at the lower end of normal, blood pressure the lowest its'ever been in my life (110/60), cholesterol improvement amazed the doctor, thyroid levels returned to normal and vision improved.

I would never have had the energy to perform the CrossFit workouts on my previous nutritional intake. I am the fittest I have ever been due to CrossFit workouts and this nutritional protocol.

BTW, I am 5'3", a lean 118 and 49 years old. I am not aspiriing to the CrossFit games but routinely smoke 20 and 30 something year old females AND males in CF workouts. At this age it would not be possible without that strong nutritional foundation. In my opinion Pat and CrossFit are at the top of their game in workouts and nutrition.

If I were traveling and unable to bring my own food I would choose the eggs and bacon anyday over oatmeal, pancakes, muffins, etc... which you would likely find at the Marriott buffet.


wrote …

I think I'm guilty of not being thorough enough on my last post. I too eat lots of meat and fat, probably more than most. The meat I eat is either harvested by myself (venison and waterfowl) or bought from farmers who believe in grass-fed/free range practices. As mentioned, I eat lots of fat too BUT the point I was hoping to make is that not all protein sources and fats are created equal. It's very important to discern between the type of fat (saturated, trans, polyunsaturated {omega6, omega3}, monosaturated) or the source of protein (wild-caught vs. farm-raised, grass-fed vs. feedlot, animal vs. plant, etc). I was disappointed to see the guy in the video saying "I need fat" "ranch is fat, I need fat". Ranch is not good for you, it's just not. Obviously anything in moderation is not bad, but it's important to be clear about details when you're broadcasting to the masses. And if you're trying to be a high caliber athlete the details of your diet are extremely important.


wrote …

epic cheat day!


wrote …

Hey Everyone!

Sorry for the long delay in getting on here and writing. I'm playing catch up from being on the road. I have the weekend off and I'm taking advantage of it by responding to some of the posts on here. Okay, let's dive in.....

#3. Michael
I used to practically live on zone bars and balance bars a couple of years ago. I have probably only had 3 or 4 of them in the last year. I do my best to avaoid them and eat real food. However, if I'm in a pinch and they are my only option, then they are a real life saver.

#7. ryan
"I have a question regarding Pat's 16 block strict days. Is that 16 blocks of each fat, protein, and carbs? Is that in one day or in one meal?"

On my strict day when I'm home I'm on 16 blocks. I eat those 16 blocks as 4, 4-block meals over the course of the day. I do a less carb, more fat zone modification where I cut out half the CHO blocks and replace them with FAT blocks. For each 1 block of CHO I take out I add 3 blocks of FAT. So my normal 4 block meal looks like............
4 blocks PRO
2 blocks CHO
4 blocks FAT, + 6 blocks FAT (from removing the CHOs) for a total of 10 FAT blocks

I was on 4P/4C/4F for about 18 months to 2 years and made great gains, but never got the body comp/performance I was after. Since tweaking it in this manner I have been much happier overall.
If you read Enter the Zone it will even say that the 40/30/30 split is a baseline, a starting point from which to experiment a bit. It is not a "one-size-fits-all". Some people will thrive with less CHO in their diet, some will not. I happen to be one of the people that does. I found this out through some experimentation. Some people crash when they remove even a bit of CHO from their diet. Play with it.

#8. Lukas,
I hear you on the fruit and veggies, man. Trust me, if there had been some delicious, fresh looking fruit or veggies at the breakfast buffet I may have grabbed some. However, it was slim pickings! However, like I stated previously, going pretty CHO free at breakfast works great for me on the road. I have plenty of energy and never bonk during WODs.

#12. Holly,
I think Tony Budding answered your questions pretty well, so I won't go overboard. The magic in the Zone ratios is designed not to spike your insulin levels and help prevent you from heading down the road to hyperinsulinemia. That's not to say you can't have LESS carbs in your diet. However, most Americans LOVE carbs. So, the good Dr. Sears made the baseline diet with the most CHO possible (to please how Americans like to eat) while still providing ample PRO to offset any potential insulin spike. We play with the fat in our diet because it is our prime energy source, and hormonally nuetral. There is no need in most cases for more PRO since we are already providing adequate amounts to support our muscle mass.

The whole cholesterol/saturated fat/animal fat/etc/etc topic is quite a can of worms. The problem lies in the fact that one can easily produce studies/statistics from some of the most "credible" universities or doctors/"experts" that support one camp just as easily as someone can produce the same supporting the other camp. There are many, many interesting research articles and books about how the cholesterol madness and saturated fats phobia are quite a bit more hyped up than need be. One can argue either side all day. I believe all of those derrangements pale in comparision to what hyperinsulinism will do to someone, regardless of their age.

#17. Matt,
I think I answered some of your question in one of my earlier answers. If not, let me know. As far as why I do single fat when I'm home, let me explain. I think that since I eat a lot of fat on the road, WELL above single, that it all evens out over the course of the week. So overall, I bet I'm on like 3x fat. But how it shakes out is for 4 days a week I'm 100% crazy-hardcore weigh and measure with single fat, the for 3 days on the road I load up on PRO/FAT with little CHO. Before I figured this system out I would try to make each one of my meals on the road 40/30/30, and maybe I have a by eye for portions or something, but I was putting on bad weight left and right. I played with it for a couple of months until I found were I thrived.

#19. Ryan,
Are you including me as one of the "people in their 20's"? If so, God bless you sir! I'll be 34 soon.

Alright everyone. Keep the thoughts/comments/questions/ideas/inputs coming. This is great stuff.
Have a great night......I'm going to bed!

Leave a comment

Comments (You may use HTML tags for style)