In Nutrition, Videos

February 18, 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 athletic performances. Proper nutrition is essential for optimizing performance. But how can that happen with so much time on the road?

This video is the first 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 TGIF, Chuck Carswell joins Pat for dinner. Chuck is affectionately known among the seminar staff as the world’s most powerful human. It has even been claimed that the Space Shuttle has a power capacity of 0.63 Carswells.

The playful tone of the series lightens a serious issue. How can we fuel ourselves in the real world for optimal performance?

5min 8sec

If you didn’t catch the preview to this video on the main site, it’s actually another brief episode. It can be viewed here [wmv] [mov].

Free Download


29 Comments on “Zone Chronicles: Jersey TGIF”


wrote …

.65 Carswells, actually. Nice work, boys!


Russell Benedetto wrote …

Thank you both for this awesome insight into eating out..... I am 1 week into my very strict zone (weighing and measuring), and I need all the support I can get....Thanks again


wrote …

Yeah be careful of the insulin rush on the JD sauce. I usually get the chicken also with Sauce on Side! But TGI's is just like any fast food joint... they have short term memory lapse and you have to look the waiter in the eye and repeat it at least twice before it sinks in for the poor bastard in the kitchen.


wrote …

awsome!! these look really interesting


Ryan Powell wrote …

looking forward to this series, as I travel 4 days / week for work and I'm forced to eat out with clients, I find it difficult to keep the zone proportions. Never thought of using sauces to get the fat


Ross Blake wrote …

You HQ trainers will love hitting up some certs here in Australia. So much easier to nail your eating here.

What's with all the sauce? Ouch!


wrote …

Very entertaining. Looking forward to more episodes.


wrote …

Great segment Pat. I try to weigh and measure as much as I can and while I'm not on the road too much these days, there are some great tips here for those times when I have to eat out.


Glenn Siegrist wrote …

I still can't do it! TFGI or any of the other out of the bag restaurants in the US. Crap food all of it.


wrote …

As I see the comments rising about the helpful hints when eating on the road I immediatly remember the CFJ article forever ago where they sent two teams out at lucnh times to see who got better their meals faster. One group went to a grocery store the other fast food. The grocery store group returnes in a faster time with a much higher quality meal. So, I guess my query is why TGIfridays at all. If ur on the road and u were really woried about athletic performance and aesthetics u could easily go to the store, saving time and money, and return with quality instead of everything else. You could even buy items that require no cooking. That classic stake has 690 calories. If u wanna argue zone thats 14 blocks of just fat in one piece of meat. The protien is an 8 block meal which the zone states no more than 5 in a meal. After all this fat was still added to each meal.

There is no reason to ever venture into one of these establishments and try to justify your eating. The only reason is comfort from home, or social applications. If ur there for some kind of bussines meeting...take in your own meal, they will let u. My athletes will not even bring up the subject of how to eat good anywhere. If u didn't make it...its not near as good as it could b unles your watchin the cook.

Seriously, Im not tryin to be some diet duchbag, or food furor, and Im not tryin to take away from the vid or be dis-respecful n anyway. Im merly stating u cannot make bad good. When u goto a restuarant like that ur cheating, its that simple. Otherwise prepare your food. My serious athletes who are in the game for peak performance cook a huge abundance of food 2-3 times per week, and r never at a loss for the meal that is suppost to be ingested at a certain time. Same goes for my athletes who are more intersted in aesthetics. In fact at out box almost everyone has a meal plan they r suppot to follow 100% in town or out of town. If they eat bad, they just won't tell me or they won't try to mask it for what its not.

Again some can eat at fridays, have a single meal that equals 15 blocks on the zone charts, then go blast out a 400+ on FGB the very next day, and still look cute while doin it. For the rest of us adherance to non-restuarant self prepared real meals(zoned,paloed,or other) is the only way to achieve the results u want. Be it hot in a bikini, or number 1 at the games.


wrote …

Josh, if you're athletic and on 3X fats, 14 blocks is actually probably about what you're going for. The extra protein blocks might be troublesome if you're a strict zone adherent, but you can always 'eyeball it' (as Dr. Sears says) and take the rest home (or in the car).

Also, I'm pretty adamant against the whole 'everyone can go to the grocery store' mentality. It's simply not true. If you're on a plane flight where the food is predetermined (and I've been stopped at some security counters for trying to take food through, whether that's the regulation or not), at a school where your food is predetermined, on the road for 10-12 hours at a time, running the Western States Endurance Race, or on a deadline and have to sprint out the door, a grocery store simply isn't available. Yes, you can oftentimes carry food with you, but sometimes you can't (ie: plane flight, college/school situation, many forward operating bases, MRE's, etc.).

Yes, 90% of the population can get good food 90% of the time if they just put in the effort to plan ahead. Our first and most common task (and, as you pointed out, the first efforts of the CFJ), will be to convince the majority that they really DO have time to pack a bagged lunch and that it really IS important that they do. However, restaurants, fast food, meal plans (which I'm stuck on), and night runs to the office vending machine are an inescapable part of life for people who do not make fitness their profession. So long as it is understood that you are making a compromise against the ideal, it is important to learn how to choose the lesser of two evils in these situations.


wrote …

This will be a good series... One brief side-note. Broccoli from Friday's is absolutely terrible. Now I know the secret: dip it in RANCH.


wrote …

Pat mentioned that he is on 16 blocks. I am 165# (12% body fat) and am using 18 blocks. Did I calculate wrong or is Pat using a reduced block estimate or is it a difference in body fat?


wrote …

What, no beers?


wrote …

#13 George, I talked to Pat about this at my Level 1 cert last month, and he said thats just him. I guess he's played with it, and found what works for him. He also said that he only does single blocks of fat... Maybe the 16 block perscription with only single fat is balancing the fact that 3 days a week he is on the road, and isn't as precise then.
Brandon, Crossfit NE Georgia


Joshua Hunnicutt wrote …

I travel and teach for another cert that is definitely not of the same awesomeness that Crossfit is and yeah you can always do the grocery store thing, but come on, its okay to get some flavor and just sit down somewhere. These guys are very obviously using a method that not just works, but works well. And as mentioned do your homework on 3x or 5x fat increases before blasting it. From personal experience, its pretty bad ass.


I'm a little bit with Josh Bunch on this one. Of course Pat can eat what he wants without it being anyone's business, but if this video is supposed to be a guide to 'how to eat well (i.e., Zone) on the road' I feel like it sends out the wrong message. My reasons for saying that are (like Josh B pointed out) that this meal was by no means balanced and this was way too much food.

We trainers know that many people are constantly looking for easier solutions, short-cuts to loose weight and get into shape. We also know that there is no such thing as a shortcut (although Zone+CrossFit comes pretty darn close). The simple truth is that you have to work for your success. Therefore I feel like the message this video sends is not the right one. My takeaway when I watched the video was: If you get some fat, a little carbs and a lot of protein you can pretty much break all other rules (and still call it good eating). Never mind that there was way too much protein, probably way too much (bad) fat and too little carbs in that meal.

That message worries me as a trainer, since what most people need too hear is quite the opposite: Stick to it as well as you possibly can, even when on the road.

I also thought that 'eyeballing' meant looking at the food and trying to approximate the Zone proportions without weighing and measuring, not looking at the food, acknowledging that there's way too much protein and the fat is probably bad but then eat it all anyway. That, to me is (like Josh B says) simply a cheat meal and should be acknowledged as such. When watching the video I was expecting something like: Let's order extra veggies on the side to increase the good carbs up to 4-5 blocks, split a 10 oz steak between us to get approximately 5 blocks each of meat and sneak in our own nuts/seeds that we carried with us as good fat instead of eating the transranch. That to me would be trying to eat well on the road and correctly eyeballing your food.

But maybe I'm just misunderstanding the whole purpose of the video. Maybe the purpose is simply to show us what Pat Sherwood eats on the road and not how to approximate zone eating as well as you can while on the road. If so then I guess my comments are invalid, but then I frankly don't see any purpose in airing the video here in the CFJ (no offense Pat, you're a great guy - met you at a level 1 cert in August08 - and doing a great job for CrossFit).

PS: It would be helpful to include in the video Pat's blocks prescription and how he estimates (eyeballs) his meals to help the viewer gain further insights into his thinking and motives.


wrote …

TGI fridays? seriously?

Quantities aside, thats about the lowest quality food you can possibly get. loads of MSG, Soy, industrial farmed garbage, all on one plate.


wrote …

Robb Wolf.....comments please oh great nutrition god!


wrote …

Hey Everybody,

Ahhh.......nothing stirs the pot (no pun intended) like nutrition.

Is TGI Fridays considered a great place to seek food for elite human performance? Nope. I would have to say not. Is it possible for me to go to a grocery store every time I travel for every meal, every day? Honestly.....yeah, I guess I could. I would also be quite unhappy and miserable. Of course there is a large social factor in eating, as well as a comfort factor when you are traveling. I would be lying if I did not say that I truly enjoy going out to eat with my friends while out on the road. I strive to keep in the best shape that I can, weigh and measure my food, count out each almond that enters my body, drink nothing but water, properly warm-up and stretch, and get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. However, every now and then I deviate from that.....and it's okay.

Do I recommend that every meal of every day of your life you eat what Chuck and I ate at TGIF's? Absolutely not. However, truth be told, I believe one could do FAR worse.

I travel at LEAST 3 days a week. I live out of a suitcase. I live out of hotels and airports. I work out at random affilaites across the country, parking lots, and hotel rooms. I have had to find a way to keep in shape, make decent food choices, and keep my sanity while doing this. I weigh 185lbs and eat 16 blocks of food(single fat). I will explain this in a bit more detail.

During the 4 days a week that I'm home I'm very, very strict with my diet. I weigh and measure every item of every meal. I don't eat bread or cheese or any processed/refined food of any kind and I try to get my macro-nutrients from VERY clean/paleo-ish sources. I eat single fat while I'm home. During the 3 days or so when I travel, I take a much more broad brush macro-nutrient approach to the way I eat. I lean more towards lots of protein, lots of fat, and few carbs. This works extremely well for me. I have played with many different "eating plans" for the road and found nothing that works better than this. (for me)

Please let me state for the record that I am NOT blessed with a fast metabolism, good genes or a single athletic bone in my body. I come from family of short, slightly overweight Italian people from New England that LOVE pasta and bread. Trust me! Haha!

I try to make the best decisions I can as frequently as I can with my nutrition. I'm usually very good. Every now and then I'm bad, and sometimes I'm middle of the road. So goes life. I love to have a fast Fran time, but at the same time I love ice cream too. I want to have both.

I'm certainly not claiming to be perfect with my nutrition. (just ask EC or Maggie! haha) I'm just trying to juggle everything that life throws at me, to include eating, and make some decent choices. I know in the video that I used Ranch dressing. I know it is full of trans fat. I know trans fat is by far the least desireable fat. Unfortunately, they did not have avacados or peanut butter. I would have greatly prefered either one of those choices. So, in a pinch I used ranch dressing. Is it the most desireable, clearly not. But I wanted more fat, so I used it.

I will be sending in more of these videos from time to time. I hope it sparks more and more discussions and exchanges of information. I think nutrition is an absolutely fascinating topic and that even some of the "smartest" people in the world still can't agree on what is best. Just wait until I film a cheat day!

Keep hitting the WODs hard everybody!



wrote …

I am curious, how you do breakfast while you are on the road?


replied to comment from Chad Jay

Hey Pat awesome video love the humor i think it would be cool if you video when you are at home WAM your food so people can see what it looks like,


wrote …

#21 Chad,
Check out the main site pre-view. It shows Chuck and Pat at breakfast. Pat, thanks for the succinct response. As a military guy I can't always eat super clean paleo-zone, but when I'm in full control of my situation I eat for health, longevity and well-being (I think some of those are the same thing!)

Some days we work untill 7pm and get home and just get what we can. Some times you're in the middle of bum-f***-istan and all you get is a t-ration of some ham like substance covered in sugar glaze. So, just like everything else, ice cream that is, take it in moderation!

Say no to tofu!


wrote …

Pat, good to see your "webrity" status is rising. Discussion and analysis are great but people who criticize you and Chuck for your video insight and then "apologize" for their comments in the same post are not finding the true spirit of CrossFit. We support each other not tear each other down. I am on the road right now and just had my traditional "zoned" oatmeal breakfast. I used 5 minute oats and someone will blast me but have you tried to cook steel cut oats in a microwave? Not going to "crush" that as Pat would say. Sure better then the waffles and yogurt at the free breakfast. It's not fun or easy to pack plastic containers w/ protein powder, oats, cinnamon, fruit etc. It's not fun worrying how you are going to get your next zone snack or meal in the middle of a 8 hour conference at a convention center! One man can only eat so many Balance bars!

To quote a great movie, "relax Francis". Crossfit is life but life sometimes interferes with CrossFit. The world is not set up for CrossFit. I guarantee there are plenty of CrossFitters out there who have been in a TGIF and just felt sick about what they saw on the menu. Thanks to Pat and Chuck.

Time to go put on my Chucks (mostly because pat says their badass), figure out what I am going to eat for lunch and hit another airplane.


wrote …

#22, Jeremy. I did video my normal routine/meal at my condo. I'm sure it will eventually get posted, I'm just not exactly sure when. Hope you enjoy it.

#24, Chris!!! What's up, bro? Loooong time, no see. I hope all is well and your training is going great for you. It's great to hear from you. Drop me an email if you get the chance so we can catch up.

To everyone else....thanks for ALL the comments. I don't view any of them as negative at all. Everyone has different opinions, ideas, lives, and viewpoints. I like hearing them all and I want to hear them all. That's the only way I broaden my horizons and learn. Please keep posting your thoughts.


Jeff Barnett wrote …

I have been zoning for about two weeks and love it. I also loved this video. IMO, if you're looking for a video on how to find a perfect 5-block meal at TGIF then pass this by. If you're looking to find out how to enjoy a trip to TGIF without completely throwing nutrition out the window, then this is on the money.

Isn't Crossfit and the Zone overall about "better" living? Is your life better by broad measurements if you never order another meal from a restaurant? I say no. I'm very disciplined in both fitness and nutrition, but I hold that discipline so I can let loose from time to time, even more often if I traveled every week like Pat.

Say I make it to 100 years old and I'm a fire-breathing old man. I look back at my life and I brought my own 4-block meal to every dinner gathering with friends and spent hours in the grocery store on every business trip. Will I think it was worth it?


wrote …

I spend quite a lot of time travelling too, but I still would never go into a TGI Friday's!

I understand why you would go to a restaraunt for all the social needs, etc....but I still have never had a hard time finding high quality food, from a restaraunt, in other citys and even other countries. I find that a little searching on the internet, and a little help from local friends goes a long way!

When I travel, quality is still first and foremost over exact proportions.....

After all....."You can't make chicken salad from chicken shit!"

Anyways, thanks for "stirrin' the pot up" Pat-


wrote …

How often are you supposed to have a "cheat day" while on the Zone diet? Does a "cheat day" mean exactly that. Eating how much of whatever you want all day? Not that I plan on doing that, i just wanted to know if there are any restrictions.


wrote …

I am having a tuff time sticking to the ZONE. But after the Video on turkey from the deli and Strawberrys I think I can do this. I am a fulltime firefighter and Part time I work in the ER. I sometimes never see my home for 36 hours. But doing what you did will work for me. Now when I get a chance to eat out or cook at home I will probably cook some great ZONE like meals. Im almost completely off sugars. I used to drink soft drinks daily. Now I am down to one every 2 weeks. This may be the ticket. I am so glad I finally subscribed to the journal.

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