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A Day of Eating: Speal by Chris Spealler - CrossFit Journal

A Day of Eating: Speal

By Chris Spealler

In Nutrition, Videos

April 12, 2009

Video Article

Chris Spealler has been one of the top contenders in both CrossFit Games. He came in 4th in 2007. In 2008, he was the overall leader going after the first day. He had a bigger lead over second place than second place had over eleventh!

Chris is the owner of CrossFit Park City. He has been training hard, and he is certainly among the top favorites going into the 2009 Games. He first has to qualify at the Great Basin Regional.

We asked Chris to film a day of his eating. A real day. Nothing doctored, nothing special. What does a serious CrossFit Games contender use to fuel his performance and his life?

This video continues an exploration into the real world eating habits of CrossFit’s top athletes and trainers.

8min 43sec

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66 Comments on “A Day of Eating: Speal”

1

wrote …


I'm glad that crossfit is doing something this so we can all see what some of the best in the biz eat on a daily basis. Of course like training, what works for someone one else may not work for you but it's great to have a idea.

2

wrote …

could not have NAILED that almond butter comment more... it so absolutely is the nectar of heaven!!

3

wrote …

Great video, Chris! Thanks for sharing.

4

wrote …

Thanks for the video, Chris. It's a big relief to see that some of the animals that destroy themselves at the gym don't have to kill themselves at the table as well.

5

wrote …

hahaha i love sampling at the nuts section in whole foods. i'm never sure if its alright - so i do it really discreetly.

6

wrote …

Loving these videos of athlete's diets. My husband is ready for Chris to post his wife's cookie receipe!

7

wrote …

Thanks for posting the video. This, like the others, is quite helpful.


Speal: You seemed to be hungry throughout the day, was that normal for you or just one of those days where you could eat everything in sight and still be hungry?

8

replied to comment from Brian Stone

I agree. Its good to know that they are still human despite their superhuman performances.

9

Mike Kesthely wrote …

My respect for Speal just went up, if that's even possible. He drinks coffee, which is the true ambrosia of the Gods. 'Nuff said.

10

wrote …

Matt, That's pretty normal for me. I like to eat often, even if it's a little bit in between meals. I think I just like food and I like to eat. But I usually do get hungry relatively soon after eating.

11

wrote …

Kelly Flora, I think your husband found the secret!

Chris, I won't tell...... it's the wife's cookies that make you a beast, right?

12

wrote …

Paleo Kits are delicious!

13

wrote …

Nice hat, Speal. Nice hat.

14

wrote …

I knew I came here to ask a question, but I forgot it so I complimented your hat.

Do you eat like this leading up to big events, or might you dial it down and start measuring more carefully with the games coming up, for instance?

15

wrote …

Chris was one of the great trainers at my Level 1 cert in AZ a few weeks ago. Human...regular guy great teacher that can break it down. Had a great time Chris hope to see you at the qualifiers if I can get time off work. As a spectator this year then maybe next year.

16

wrote …

Chris do you find that you do better on lower carbs and more fats?? it seemed like you really dont eat that much in carbs?

17

wrote …

Chris, great video!
I'd say you 've got pretty good taste... except maybe... for... those... first 30sec... that.... never... really.... happened.

Anyway, it's inspiring to see top athletes being so open about what they do and what they eat.
like unravelling the rainbow. There are no secets, only hard working people!!!

Cheers
Marcel

18

wrote …

oh, I miscalculated, it's exactly at 00:52 :)

19

wrote …

that asparagus has to be genetically enhanced. those things were huge!

greatly appreciate the diet info. It's what i've suspected all along. top performers ARE top performers....perfectly dialed in diet or not. that being said, I'll echo John H.'s question...do you dial it in leading up to competitions?

thanks

20

wrote …

This series of videos is outstanding! As someone who gets really OCD about The Zone and then fails when real life (job commitments, spouse/kids/dog, social gatherings, really bad days, etc.) intrudes on my block plan, it's great to see elite athletes proving how far you can get just by managing the big picture. Admittedly, I am not trying to win the games or shave seconds off my Fran. I am CrossFitting (and managing my food) to be fitter, healthier and happier. Thanks guys. I may have one less thing to stress about.

21

wrote …

Speal this was pretty awesome. At the cert in Okinawa most of the other trainers mentioned that you just chow down on whatever. Said something about being young and some other stuff. That's cool. You still seem to be eating pretty healthy. It seems to, minus my alcohol intake, match up with my diet. No measuring of crap, not worth the time, just eating healthy. I hope to have you as a trainer for something else again in the future. You guys were awesome over here.

22

wrote …

John/James, I never really weigh and measure. I have qulifiers coming up this weekend and what you saw on the video is pretty spot on. I'm just trying to stay away from those cookies now :) That's really the only thing I buckle down on. No cheat meals about 3 weeks out or so. Otherwise it's all the same.

Chuck, those cookies are amazing... yes, they are the secret. I'll have my wife send you a tub of them if we both make it to the games. I highly recommend eating them immediately before a brutal met con.

Jeremy, I don't really think about it. I eat when I'm hungry and try to stay away from starches. I guess that leads me to eating more protein and fat, but I do feel way better on that than when I used to pound down the pasta a few years ago. I guess anyone would though after those high carb/low fat days.

23

wrote …

"drinking soy milk is probably like wearing lululemon'- priceless chris, priceless.

great video, that was fun to watch. good luck this weekend!

24

wrote …

Speal!!!!

Great video, dude. Loved every second of it. Needless to say, I loved the soy milk & lululemon comment!

Those cookies do look delicious as hell. I wish you the best at the qualifiers, bro!

-Pat

25

wrote …

Wait, I don't get the Lululemon comment... I wear Lululemon! And I love it. I work out hard and eat like growing boy... Fill me in.

26

replied to comment from Justin McGinley

I have never seen one of those before. Do they sell them at Whole Foods?

27

wrote …

So what the hell am I supposed to take away from this that's informative in a helpful/useful way?
Great, Chris Spealler doesn't strictly follow 'The Zone', eats irregularly, eats more or less what he wants- including a bunch of crap that actually physically makes me sick to my stomach when I consume it- and he's one of the top athletes in the CrossFit community.
Awesome, that means I can stop eating all this healthy, unprocessed stuff that I buy or grow and I can just eat pizza all the time!!! CrossFit Games '09 here I come woohoo!

28

wrote …

Cameron, I had the same type of question in the prior installment in this series. Not sure what message this is sending. Its not all about performance. It is also about long term health.

29

wrote …

Re Cameron, The reality is that you cannot compare yourself to someone who is exceptional. The fact is that some people can break all the rules and still have it. A friend of mine, who was a track athlete in high school, was a hard partying guy after school (for many years). His wife finally had enough and gives him the ultimatum, clean up or ship out. He decides to make changes and enters a local marathon (which has a high level field) with little training under his belt. He finished in the top 5 or 10 and was well under 3 hours. Other runners I know follow all the rules and aren't even close to him in terms of performance. Just the way it is.

You have to decide what is right for you and go for it. But, don't think that by emulating what it takes to be a world class athlete, you are going to become that athlete.

30

replied to comment from Cameron Day

Hahahahahahahaha, don't get too bitter Cameron. Speal is a fire-breather; this is the guy who smoked the run at the Games but didn't do any running training prior to it. Take Ron D's words to heart and don't compare yourself to Speal and what he does, it's obvious he can get away with it. You might as well go buy the same sexy hat as him and then try to bust out a Fran in 2:05...

31

wrote …

Cameron, just curious as to what you think would be the best way of eating. In all seriousness it's just for discussion. I'm always up for learning what works for others and if you think I eat that terrible, then where do you think I might see big improvements in long term health or performance? I am well aware that I will not CrossFit forever and my concern is long term as well. Would appreciate your suggestions. Did I have pizza?

32

wrote …

Hey Chris,
Just curious. What does your usual Chipotle order look like?

33

replied to comment from Chris Spealler

Cameron, grow up. No two people are the same. Figure out what works for you and stick to it. Chris, nice video man. These type of journal entries are entertaining and fun. Oh and Almond Butter is the shizz.

34

replied to comment from Dan Dumsick

Dan, they are only available here: http://www.paleokits.org/

They are a delicious blend of beef jerky, almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, dried cranberries and dried strawberries. It is the perfect healthy, paleo snack.

35

wrote …

After reading some of the comments about how Chris eats and concerns that were expressed about his diet possibly endangering his long term health I had to watch the video again. I was certain I must have missed something. Chris is a friend of mine I want him to live a long, healthy life.

After watching the video the 2nd time I feel rather comfortable that Chris is not in danger. Here is my prediction.....he's gonna be just fine.

There are 4,000 different things that people can critique a diet about. Some things are a tad more important than others. If I had to put my 2 cents on which one was the biggest killer and caused the most problems for people, it would be too much sugar in the diet, not enough protein, and fearing fat. This is not a problem he has.

Could his diet be better? Sure. No one is perfect. He is out in the real world, living life, and making some pretty good choices.

Orthorexia is defined as "an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy".

Chris does not suffer from this. I'm not implying that anyone that has posted does either. I'm just stating it is a slippery slope.

It begins as "eat more vegetables". Then goes to "eat only organic vegetables". Then moves to "eat only organic, raw vegetables", then to "eat only organic, raw vegetables that have just been picked in your own garden". Etc, etc.

There are some interesting articles on the topic out on the inter-webs if anyone gets bored.

I just had bacon and eggs for breakfast. Delicious. (with the yolks, and cooked the eggs in the bacon grease.)

That starbucks that Chris had looked delicious....I'm going to get an americano.

Speal..........hope all is well, bro!!
(I want some of those cookies!!)

36

wrote …

Pat i agree with you 100%, you make a very good points, you could probably eat perfect and still get hammered with issues from people, i would say he eats pretty freakin clean its obvouis it works pretty damm well, i think it gives good insight on how people eat and how they perform keep it Chris and Pat all the best at the qualifiers

37

wrote …

To all of you who replied to my comment above, I apologize for the sarcasm. But it is frustrating to come on to the Journal which has typically been an extremely reliable source of information and find something that seems to be at odds with what is prescribed by CrossFit's main site. I am aware that it is not a one-size-fits all program and that there are going to be variations in training and dieting. I'm an example of this. I don't strictly follow the WODS and I supplement my CF work with exercises and training that I feel are neglected within the WODS. Thus far it's worked: I'm posting sub 4 Fran, sub 8 Helen, sub 20 Joshua, 30 min Murph etc., who cares.

Chris, my personal philosophy regarding food and diet is that if I don't need it, I don't consume it. I live my entire life that way, I'm very simple, even spartan some may say. Some of the specific edible items I was referring to in your post were the cookies, the salad dressing, coffee, the fruit strip things (not sure what they were). I've eliminated processed foods because I find them unnecessary. The only thing that has a food label on it in my fridge is my girlfriend's lowfat milk. I even make my own peanut butter, almond butter (which is bad ass, I agree), and 'power bars'. This is not because I have some weird obsession about food, e.g. orthorexia as Pat suggested. It is simply because there is a pretty good body of knowledge available on how our bodies biochemically process fats, proteins, and carbs, and very little info about what effects (if any, good or bad) additional food additives have, short or long term. When I do have an occasional break from eating this way, everything suffers - my stomach, my performance, even my general mood.

I do not resent anything that's been presented here and am not angry or bitter about any of this as some have suggested above. I know I am a well conditioned athlete and a healthy human being I know I will continue to improve. Will I reach an elite level among CrossFitters? I don't know. To be honest, I don't really care. I know what I'm capable of as do the small group of comrades that I train with and the respect that we have amongst ourselves for one another and the work that we put in is what it's really all about for me. My initial post was more a response to what is being shown here vs. what the average weekend warrior going to the main site is being told. The general message from CrossFit seems to be that if you follow the programming and follow the prescribed diet, you will be a well conditioned bad ass. The video on one level is delivering a message saying 'it doesn't matter what you do, there are some people who are genetic, metabolic machines, and even if you follow everything perfectly, you may not get there'. So that is why I question how 'helpful' this video is in relation to the other material that has been posted on the CFJ.

Chris, obviously I don't know you, but from the little I have seen from your conditioning, you are a man to be respected. What ever you are doing is working, so keep doing it. I am simply suggesting that there may need to be some clarification here.

Again, my apologies to anyone who was offended by my comments.
Sincerely,

Cameron Day
UT-Southwestern Medical Center
Dallas, TX

38

wrote …

I think the message is that top athletes are not necessarily hung up on tiny details. They have (for some reason or another) a pretty good idea about what works for them and basically just stick to it.
The big picture is more important than the tiny details.

What we see here is a REAL average day. so no tricks, no abracadabra and no ignoring reality and in my eyes that's even more worth than some arbitrary plan from some arbitrary sheet.

39

wrote …

Cameron, thanks for the great response. Always good to hear another persons perspective and gives me some things to think about. I can see where you are coming from as I notice the same things with my eating habits, but maybe on a smaller scale. I feel like a piece of turd when I eat lots of starches (pasta, bread, etc.) for the most part. I feel better fully hydrated than when I have too much coffee, and I get the sugar coma when I down ice cream. I'm guessing you are more sensitive or aware of this than I when it comes to eating habits.

I came from a background where I was always watching my weight and a bit obsessed with food quantity, and at the time what I thought was quality. So for me I really like being able to let myself off the hook a bit with the cookies, fruit leathers etc. But again, I value your opinion and input and respect your ability to eat all unprocessed foods. For me I'm just not there yet and try to make healthy decisions. Performance is great, it's not everything though. The people we share this with are far more important and it's encouraging to see the comments on the camaraderie you have with your friends.

40

wrote …

I think everything will become clearer in part 2 when Speal flys to earths outer atmosphere and charges his powers from the sun...then he trains in the fortress of solitude being coached by a hologram of the old guy from rocky-true story.

41

David Nichols wrote …

I love these videos! My girlfriend measures her measuring cup, I just throw it on the plate and eat. So we argue all the time about it, these video's just help my argument of "details don't matter in the diet if, (and only if) your long term goal is to ALWAYS eat health (zone/paleto-ish)." If I beat yourself up over an extra block of broccoli, or too much/little this I would go crazy. But hey, maybe that's just me, I'm too laid back to freak out. But I will say, the moment my performance drops, I will re-examine my diet.

Chris,
Do you or your family have a connection to YoungLife? I noticed the cup you drank you milk out of at the end said YoungLife on it.

I am a former staff member in the Dallas area, as well as, a current affiliate owner.

Thanks!
David Nichols

42

wrote …

awsome video!! thanks chris for sharing this with us...

43

wrote …

Although some might take these videos as educational, I take them mostly as entertainment. Some of the videos have pointed me in the right direction as far as eating certain things but I just enjoy seeing what others eat on a daily basis in general. It lets you get to know some of these guys who are dominating in the WODs and the Games. Above all, I enjoy the lingo that comes out of Sherwood's mouth when discussing his food. Thanks for the videos guys.

44

wrote …

Mike, I'm a big fan of the salad with extra chicken and guac. Good stuff for sure.

Mark, you had my wife and I laughing out loud... love it! How did you find out anyway?

David, Young Life rocks! I went to camp as a high school kid and it was the real turning point in my walk with Christ. I worked at Saranac on summer staff, met my wife there, and was a leader here in Park City for a while. Awesome organization and they do so much for kids! Miss it but I don't have as much time now and I don't think it's fair to the kids to be a guy that is around only once in a while. One of my old Young Life kids actually introduced me to CrossFit. Crazy how God works!

45

replied to comment from Cameron Day

Cameron wrote: "My initial post was more a response to what is being shown here vs. what the average weekend warrior going to the main site is being told. The general message from CrossFit seems to be that if you follow the programming and follow the prescribed diet, you will be a well conditioned bad ass."

I think you have that sentence a little off. There is a video where Coach is talking about nutrition. (Side note, its two part video series, I could find the link if people want it, they are excellent!). And he doesn't say the diet turns you into a well conditioned bad ass, but rather that you won't get to your max potential without proper diet.


Obviously, everyone performs differently due to body shape, natural talent, effort, whatever. Maybe Speal could refine his diet and 'zone in' for some added improvements, but he (or anyone else) would have to decide whether they want to devote that extra time/commitment for it. On the spectrum of paleo/zone to paleo to low fat is good/pasta and bread are amazing to mcdonalds, chips and pop, his diet is plenty healthy.

46

wrote …

I think the point Cameron is arguing that there is a difference between performance and fitness. Its easy to focus on Glassman's model for work capacity 'under the curve' for all the different metabolic engines and gauge where your performance is presently, and from that point to attack your weaknesses and so on and so forth. Its a brilliant model for measuring performance, but it doesn't become a fitness model until you add the 3rd axis of time. I took from Glassman's lecture that he who was fittest had the greatest area under the curve over time. Obviously this idea isn't very enchanting, because there is no real way to test performance over time against others in the CF community and its not necessarily conducive to the 'sport of fitness' aspect that draws so many people to the site. Crossfit is a performance culture to be sure, and this aspect draws a lot of people who are sick of the 3x10 bullshit that muscle mags shove down their throat. But I think its important to remember, and sometimes clarify, that crossfit is a fitness culture. To me this means climbing ropes when Im 80. Can I get there by eating ice cream and candy? Who knows? Maybe. But there's a lot better chance that I get there by eating the way that my body was designed to work over tens of thousands of years.
Showing that dudes like Chris that are raw as hell aren't slaves to their diet is a good thing in that it brings people into the fold that would otherwise be put off by our freakish devotion to all things fitness. And if people can commit to semi-zone/paleo by knowing that they have some wiggle room then that is great too, but I feel like that information should be qualified with the underlying philosophy of this culture that we're gonna be as nasty as we can for as long as we can, and that means eating clean.

47

wrote …

The more information on nutrition we can get the better..and it’s nice to see what the top athletes are eating..it gives us mortals hope! Now no offense to Chris and Pat and the other men, but besides Chastity’s SUPER CLEAN eating before her fitness competition it would be nice to see what the ladies are eating on a normal day..hint, hint Jolie ;)

48

replied to comment from Chris Spealler

Chris,
"I am well aware that I will not CrossFit forever" - why not ?

Petr

49

wrote …

we need a video of opt's diet. from what i read, he WAM and is pretty serious about this stuff. and yes i agree with tamara let's see a female's diet (+1 for jolie).

50

wrote …

this guy doesn't really know a whole lot about nutrition, i just wasted 9 min of my life

51

wrote …

I'd be really keen to see how people manage during the work week. For those of us that aren't trainers, and have fairly strict office hours, tips on how to get the most out of our diets are a great help.

52

replied to comment from Michael Walters

dude, protein shakes are the best thing for you. do not waste your money buying all these protein bars or what have you. i personally recommend Amplify smoothies (GNC). This protein mixes well with water(cold), all the flavors have excellent taste. this protein has 2g of carbs and water does not add any nutritional value like milk, unless you want the added sugar, and protein that milk has.

53

wrote …

Petr, the comment is more about being a "competitor". I think CrossFit will always be a part of my life but it may not be as big a part of my life in the future. I'm a married guy with a gym and no kids. Not a bad schedule. Life might change things in the future and priorities may change as well. Fitness is a priority in my life and CrossFit in my opinion is the best way to get there. So I'll do it as long as I am able but may not be concerned about "performance" further down the road.

54

wrote …

I actually got a salad from chipotle with chicken and guac and without beans and rice today, haha.

Chris, thanks for uploading this video. regardless of what others say, it's good to see what yall are eating, even if it isn't totally optimal to the Nth degree.

55

wrote …

Great video chris, good luck in the games.

I'm a big fan of these video diaries, the zone chronicles, etc. I work 2 full time jobs and try to get 4 to 5 workouts in a week and being able to make some on the fly choices is a necessity for me. They have been very helpful and even inspiring that I can make better unplanned choices without throwing in the towel. Ideal? No, but better choices are better than bad choices.

Be safe,
Cliff

56

wrote …

The video seemed pretty good to me.
I struggle with cheat days and those cookies looked darn good.

57

wrote …

Good video Chris. Thanks for sharing with us.

58

wrote …

I think most people raise valid points here but I think on balance, Chris' approach to nutrition is both the healthiest as well as the most appropriate for us all to follow.

Healthy in the broader sense of the word. Sure, he could probably get a few more of his carbs through spinach and kelp etc and yes if they were organic all the better, but Chris' approach is healthier because we all need balance in a broader sense as well as in the perfect amounts of fat, protein and carbs.

"Everything in moderation.....including moderation"

Very few people have the time, discipline and inclination to weigh all their foods, all of the time and I would argue that such a close focus on a completely controlled intake can become an unhealthy obsession. Our diet doesn't have to be punitive - we should get pleasure out of our food as well and for me personally, if I go to rigid and controlling in my diet, I fall off the wagon after a couple of weeks because I need outlets to lighten up


I'm a 37 year old with pretensions of qualifying for the 2010 Games and I focus as much as possible on diet, rest and exercise. But I'm also a husband, a father of two and own a business and three mortgages as well as friendships with a variety of people way outside the fitness community. Like most people, I don't have the luxury of being able to focus exclusively on myself as a physical being, in the same way that I don't build my business 24 hours a day, or spend all my time with my kids either, no mater how much I may sometimes want to. Most of us in the Crossfit community are the same.

I also think life would be blander and less fulfilling if I did follow an incredibly regimented approach. So if I had to give up a few glasses of wine, the occasional cheese burger with friends and something sweet occasionally at the end of the day with my wife to become the ultimate CF athlete or...5-10% healthier, I don't think I'd do it. And I think most of us are the same...aren't we? We lead broader, more balanced lives than just our Crossfit/Exercise existences.

Chris, congratulations on your success as a CF athlete (dude you looked great on the Snatch WOD in the qualifiers) and thanks for opening up your daily routine to us.

59

wrote …

you love eating eahh broo. Good job at the games, good luck in 2009.

60

wrote …

that was awesome

61

wrote …

Chris, you are the man, good luck this year!

I am a bit confused regarding all of the comments bashing Speal's diet? I have confidence that I will be able to qualify for the 2010 games, the last thing I want is for Speal to improve his diet!

Here is my advice, replace the broccoli with pasta, put salad dressing on your cookies, eat ground chuck (80/20) instead of chicken and dip your pears in Cool Whip instead of almond butter. Try this for a year after the 2009 games. I extend my expertise to all who plan on competing next year.

No need to thank me, your performance will do enough!

62

Hey - it makes sense that you were in Young Life - that is why you are sooo grounded! Great video - next time let your wife have some air time too - would love to see how she eats as well!! Thanks for sharing and kick butt in Cali!

63

wrote …

Now I know why I don't frequent the food bins in Whole Foods...

64

wrote …

Chris while I've got much respect for your CF achievements, I can't believe you just reached in with your hand and "sampled" some items from the bulk food aisle. Besides being pretty disgusting, that's also theft. So what if it was just one almond? That's definitely not cool. I'm glad you don't shop at my Whole Foods as I too love those cocoa almonds and wouldn't want to know that your hand had been in there before me. Use the scoop and pay for what you eat!!

65

wrote …

Thanks, Chris.
It's good to hear and see elite athletes like yourself keep life in perspective. For instance, I attended a level 1 cert in dallas a while back with you. I spoke with Todd(one of the great trainers there) and he told me not to start the zone with my wife yet since she's pregnant because she has alot on her plate already. It's great to keep life in perspective. Good luck this year at the games!

66

wrote …

I just watched this for the first time. In case anyone was wondering, here is the breakdown:

Calories: 2850
Fat: 127g
Carbs: 224g
Protein: 197g

assumptions were made on the cookies and how much dressing for dinner.

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