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Zone Precision and Accuracy by Robb Wolf - CrossFit Journal

In Audio, Nutrition, Videos

May 11, 2009

Video Article

Robb Wolf is the co-owner and founder of CrossFit NorCal. He has also been studying nutrition for a long time and offers nutrition seminars all over North America.

In this video, which is a basic introduction to the Zone, Robb explains that the most acute benefit of the Zone approach to food is the accuracy and precision with which food is consumed.

There are three macronutrients that greatly affect the workings of the body: Protein, carbohydrate, and fat. With the Zone block system, you can know exactly the ratio of each at all times throughout the day. Zone blocks normalize the various differences in macronutrient effect, such that one block of sugar affects insulin to the same degree that one block of zucchini does.

No matter which approach to managing your blocks you follow, following a precise system of managing food is essential to understanding the effects of food on all levels of performance, fitness, and health.

6min 50sec

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58 Comments on “Zone Precision and Accuracy”


wrote …

Is there any way to listen to more of this? It cuts off mid sentence...


wrote …

Robb u are way too funny, great info more would be better if you shuttle 1/2 the days carbs post wod. and u only consume low gi veges for the rest of the days blocks do u still count them as blocks even though its veges?


wrote …

Oh man, it was just getting good. Where/when do we get more?


wrote …


When replacing carb blocks with fat blocks, would you use 1.5 gram or 3 grams for the added blocks?



wrote …

Excellence in motion. I can listen to Robb talk all day long. Just a walking wealth of knowledge and very interesting individual.


replied to comment from Josh Cline

Josh- add 1.5g. Robb mentioned it during the block breakdown but folks get sideways on it all the time.


wrote …

exellent, would love to see the whole lecture, i find it sinks into my thick head much better this way than a book.


wrote …

Sharper than California!!! I was there! Crap!!!


wrote …

Does anyone know his reasoning as to why egg beaters and whey protein shouldn't be consumed? I do my best to eat real meat but i find that I'm often on the run and stuck when it comes to a readily available protein source.


wrote …

please post whole lecture!


wrote …

Thanks for the video..
I have a quick question here..
we know that the body becomes more sensitive to the insulin after workout.. so do you want to eat more carbs or less carb?

thanks again :)


replied to comment from Kangsan Kim

Robb suggests shifting upto 1/2 of your daily carb blocks to the post WO meal.


replied to comment from Ryan Dumas

I'm pretty sure the reason Robb doesn't like Egg beaters and Whey Protein shakes is because they are processed. They breakdown and enter the system too quickly causing a blood sugar spike.


wrote …

I cant wait for Robbs visit to Boston. If you want the whole lecture, one of his certs is one day and is 195$ You are crazy not to.


wrote …

I'd like to see more of this.
Cut too short.


replied to comment from Jeremy Olds

Yep! You count those just takes a lot of them to equal a block of carbs. this whole process of putting more dense carbs in the post work out (PWO) window dramatically simplifies the Zone and the whole eating process. It also improves recovery and performance.


replied to comment from Josh Cline

Assume 1.5g of fat per block of Fat. the 3 block deal refers to fat free protein sources. Just run with 1.5!


replied to comment from Ryan Dumas

I like to see shakes saved for a pinch OR if the individual is exceptionally lean and using a shake for PWO nutrition. People get lazy, eat processed foods (a shake is processed BTW) then cannot figure out why they are FAT. Real food, most of the time, is the way to go.

As to the Egg beaters, I'd really pefer to see people eating Omega-3 enriched eggs. Costco, trader joes and any large supermarket will have these. VERY nutritious and none of the arachadonic acid issue of regular eggs. Also, when you eat egg beaters...someone in heaven rips the wings off angels :P


wrote …

Robb thank u so if one were to go 1/2 the day carbs post wod and drop the other 1/2 like u say in the video one would eat the rest of the meals with only protein source and fat source thats it no veges butt u would replace those carb blocks w/ the fat wouldnt u be missing out on those green veges nutrients and be starving???


replied to comment from Jeremy Olds

You could easily keep a block of veggies in those other meals...3 cups of broccoli is still a bunch!


wrote …

Hey Robb,
Great video, I myself am a paleo/zoner, I follow Paleo pretty strictly for 6 days out of the week. The only thing that I will eat that I am not proud of is the ZONE BARS. I am a third grade teacher and a affiliate owner out here in mass and also training for my 50 k and other races for the summer. So I got to do to double workouts 4 days a week. SO i AM going from 4 am to 10 at night. I was wondering for my snacks during my large meals, if 1 or 2 zone bars a day will kill me....?? Thanks alot,
Hope to get off the waiting list at the Boston Cert.
Vagabond CrossFit


wrote …

Please post the entire lecture!! Sounds like it will answer a lot of questions I have!


wrote …

Hey Rob, when are you coming To Australia?


wrote …

if you enjoyed this video, i would highly recommend attending robb's nutrition cert. the amount of information is unreal, very helpful if you are a trainer or just want a better understanding of nutrition.


1.) you are awesome
2.) i have not had egg beaters since your nutrition cert.



wrote …



wrote …

For me: when calculating real food fat =1.5 gr based upon hidden fat within the protien breakfast=ham and eggs, All bran & cheerios and almonds (all measured).
However, when I use a a source with advertised nutrient value on the package, I use 3 gr. ie protien bar, 1 oz dark chocolate (70%) and an apple.

Does this seem reasonable?

Secondly, I am a little sketchy on accuracy vs precision as it pertains to the zone.


wrote …

As usual, Robb presents amazing info in a very easy to understand manner!


replied to comment from kevin omalley

Obviously a few Zone bars here and there are no big deal, but a better option is Paleo Kits. Better nutrition, and a great cause.

We need to get some stuff on the books! Can't wait to come to Australia!

You are too kind sista! You and Pat are somewhat unique in trying my suggestions! Much appreciated.

Your approach sounds good.

Keep in mind:
Accuracy is how close something is to a "true" value.
Precision is how replaceable something is.

The Zone brings both accuracy and precision to bear on our nutrition (if we do it right) and this allows us to make informed decisions about what to do next. if you do not know your course, it's tough to change directions.


wrote …

Awesome material as usual!! Can't wait to see the rest of it. One question regarding that oh so savored cheat meal within the zone. I highly respect Mr. Sherwoods ideas of a going all out on a cheat meal and wondered if you have any comments on how that cheat meal or day fits into the zone.


wrote …

Paleo kits = Yumm. I received my first installment and they are a godsend.


wrote …

Please Post Entire Lecture!


wrote …

Does anyone know if Paleokits are for sale in Canada?


replied to comment from Robert Readman

Paleo Kits are mail order so it shouldn't be a problem.


Herm Blancaflor wrote …

Robb, my girlfriend and I signed up for your nutrition cert in the LA area in mid-July, but we hope to meet you at the games the weekend before. Solid video clip. I still laugh about the pull-up fart :)


wrote …

I don't know, but i took the chance and tried to eat according to the zone. measure everything and ate very precise and i must say that i felt tired most of the time, energy level went down very fast during exercise and i gain fat.
i also don't understand why i need so much fat, if i want to loose it. i am 17% fat and want to drop to 10-12%. someone can help me to understand it? couse i am getting confused already :-(



Couple questions:
1) Gluten, bad?.. if so why and how can we avoid this if we occasionally eat grain products? ... or perhaps we should just avoid grain products all together?

2) could you explain a little better, the concept of taking out carb blocks and replacing them with fat. How and why? Hope that isn't too much of a loaded question.

As always, extremely informative and thank you.


wrote …

Robb, I second question #2 from Rob Barrese. I also believe grains shouldn't be completely eliminated from diet. Just used as a condiment or no more than 25% of carbohydrate blocks, which is recommended by Dr. Sears. After all, why did God create grains, but for our consumption?


Chris Walls wrote …

The way I understand it, you replace 1 block CHO with 3 blocks fat in order to maintain the caloric intake. The reason for doing that is that some people do better on less carbs. Robb I'm sure will have a better explanation.


replied to comment from Tsvi Arbeli

Fat doesn't make you fat. If your energy levels were low, you might need more blocks, or you might just need more fat.


wrote …

I just let cheats happen when they make sense....if we are out with friends, the nachos look way better than the tri-tip I go for it. Some people like to make it a planned wing-ding...some people the big wing-ding puts them on the skids for 5 days and or they never ge back on the pony. There is no one formula for this, just have to tinker and see what works. All that said, being OVERLY stringent with the food will limit progress and dating options.

Your not telling us much! How much do you weigh, how tall are you, how many blocks were you much sleep do you get...whenever I hear "X-diet did not work for me" i'm immediately suspicious! Folks can find amazing ways to mess the whole operation up. As to the fat: We are trying to control insulin...insulin makes you fat, not fat.

Yea, I think gluten is pretty gnarly stuff. Wheat, rye, oats, spelt millet have gluten or gluten like proteins. Corn and rice are much less of a problem so these make pretty good splurge options.

Now there ARE people who think the gluten deal is crap, and even ascribe the whole paleo concept to the realm of "pseudo-science" saying the whole thing smacks more of religion than science. Well, those folks are...wrong. I can drop a stack of research in their lap and they will ignore it. I can point to thousands of anecdotal examples and it is dismissed...this is all eerily similar BTW of folks pestering the establishment about the role of insulin in health and disease...oh how quickly we forget that stuff. What I hang my hat on is this: Try it. See if it works. If not, it's not that damn hard to go back to the way one was eating before. Or it might dramatically improve your Performance and Health. If you stay healthy over the long haul, that's Longevity.

Now the carb/fat block deal is this: many people do not run optimally on the recommended blocks of carbs. Pat Sherwood and Nadia are perfect examples of folks who cut their carbs in half, added some fat to balance the calories and found better performance and body-composition. 1C=3F (pretty close anyway) and this is how folks tweak this whole thing. If I prescribe the Zone for someone I start EVERYONE at his place now. I see far better results for more people.

Barry Sears had a good thing in the Zone but he missed the boat on many opportunities. How about post WO nutrition? A balanced Zone meal is NOT the best way to optimize this. How about individual carb tolerances? He alludes to this in Mastering the Zone but he is so phobic of being labeled a "low carb diet" little to no tinkering was offered here. Put another way: the reason crossfit "works" is due in large part to the variability and randomness of the programming...does it make sense that a completely STATIC and unchanging nutritional approach would best compliment crossfit? No, it neither makes sense, not does it reflect reality. When folks tweak the Zone along the lines I talk about in the cert, they get dramatically improved results.

Let me know if that makes sense!


wrote …

Interestingly, many people do better on no grains...I'm unsure what God's thoughts are on this. I'm not in the business of second guessing Him, I just run with the best results I observe.


wrote …

Hello all, just want to second Nadia's endorsement of Robb's nutrition cert. If you dig this clip, you'll get almost 8 great hrs of it there. I'm a physician and learned darned little about nutrition in medical school. I firmly believe if we can get the medical community and the FDA's attention with these ideas we could really impact the health and wellness of our population more than ANY other "program" I've seen. And that says nothing about the awesome CrossFit performance bene's you get too, its like running on jet fuel compared to a basic Zone or anything else for that matter. I'm pushing 40 and since instituting this stuff along with intermittent fasting and an 8hr sleep schedule, I'm a different human, physically and mentally, seriously.

Eduardo, God made tobacco too but I don't see that as being a favorable health product either. :-)


wrote …

Hi S Jacob

do u eat a zoned paleo lifestlye and do u eat a post wod feed of 1/2 the days carbs w/the 1/2 deleted then replaced w/fat blocks


wrote …

Robb, thanks for the response. I still have a few unanswered questions though. By post-wod in which you have to shuttle half the day's carbs, does this encompass strength training days, only met-cons, or both? Also, if you switch out half the day's carbs, should the rest still be spread out evenly or more in the morning as you were just on an 8-hour fast? Should you also eat any carb blocks in the snack you eat before going to bed? Thanks in advance.


wrote …

Robb, I forgot to ask. How large should the post-wod meal be in terms of protein blocks? Thanks once more in advance.


wrote …

Robb, I am still puzzled at this carb replacement method. If you shuttle half of your carbohydrate blocks into your post WOD meal, and then replace the blocks of carbohydrate you were supposed to eat regularly with 3 blocks of fat, at the end of the day, aren't you consuming more calories? Or is it that deleting your carbohydrate intake by half and then replacing it with fat is a completely different thing apart from the shuttling of 1/2 of your alloted carbohydrate blocks into the post-WOD meal?


Rob Barrese wrote …

Robb on comment #40 it completely makes sense. I can easily see how that approach would work. What I am wondering is what if I played with the multiplier, would that also work, if so how well?
I teach health & nutrition...yes they make me teach RDA nutrition... but in my lower level courses I sub the zone in for everything.
I began with the zone over a year ago. In the first 6 months I dropped 5.7% body fat (11 down to 5.3), but stayed 178lb throughout. I began with 20 blocks and used .9 as my multiplier. My point is I saw improvement with standard Zone.
But who cares, thats one case study. I'm concerned about clients/ students/ whoever... So I completely understand what you are saying. I would note that
Now you said you start everyone off like this. I have observed Pat Sherwood videos, however, I'd say I have a leaner frame/higher meta. If I were to cut the carbs and sub in fat how would that effect body weight? Would my weight to up, go down... does it matter if it ment improvement in performance?

I guess I'm asking your empiricalobservations but I guess this could also be my summer experiment?! Hey thanks again, I know your on the road answering questions alot and it is apprecialted.

Rob Barrese


wrote …

Great questions!! I'll use myself as an example:
I run at about 16 blocks and typically that is four 4 block meals. On a heavy met-con day I may shift upwards of 50% of the days carbs into the PWO meal (8 blocks of carbs) with 4P and 0F. Lets say you work out in the AM and just have some espresso and then HIT IT!! the day would play out something like this:
Heavy Met-con Day
Totals: 16P16C16F

Now in this next scenario lets assume one of two things: You are like Pat & Nadia and run better on fewer carbs OR you are only doing strength work this day and thus your glycogen needs are relatively small. In this scenario the day would look like this:
A few things to point out:
1-the PWO meal has no fat to speed gastric emptying and get nutrients INTO the muscles.
2-In the second scenario the final fat tally is 40 becasue of the original 16 plus 24 from deleted carbs (8 carbs deleted, 1C=3F).

I wrote on article covering this whole thing pretty thoroughly called "42 Ways to Skin the Zone". If you google that you should be able to find it.


wrote …

This is the very reason for DOING the Zone...we need to really pay attention to what we are doing so we can decide HOW we want to proceed. Pat, for example, is 185 lbs, pretty damn lean and on 16P8C40 fat if I recall...this is still calorically the SAME or even a little skinnier than the base Zone...he is running on about 1500 cals per day and I have no fracking idea how that works...but it does (Eduardo, this answers your question also...the cals are the same).

I have absolutely NO WAY of knowing what someone's optimum block level OR fat multiplier will ultimately must tinker and keep an eye on these things:
How does one look, feel and perform. If our training and nutrition is going in the right direction, that stuff should improve.


Jeff Barnett wrote …

Your thoughts on modifying nutrition for a metcon day versus a strength building day echo some thoughts I've had since I started the Zone 3 months ago: I don't buy that my caloric needs are exactly the same every day. For that reason, I prescribe myself 18 blocks, but I allow myself up to 20 depending on how I feel and the intensity of my workout. Perhaps I'm screwing it all up, but I've made great gains so far.


wrote …

Ive been dying to dial in my nutrition and the more I investigate the zone the more intrigued I become. However, the one thing I continue to battle with is total daily caloric consumption.
I am a hard gainer - 6'3" 173 lbs (a lean 184 lbs is the heaviest and fittest ive ever been). According to the zone site I need 19 total daily blocks, or according to Journal #21 as a hard gainer I need 21.
Based on a few sample meal plans (from the same article), a 5 block meal is approximately 375-400 kcal. If you multiply that by 4 (to reach 20 daily blocks), id only be consuming 1500-1600 kcal per day!
How is it possible to gain muscle, or even maintain muscle, with such a caloricly restricted diet? I feel like im missing something, or that ive done my math wrong.


wrote …


I am bit confused on your comments about fat mixed in with protein sources. Are you saying that we should be counting the fat mixed in with the protein sources as fat blocks? For example, if turkey 2 ounces of turkey has 1.5 grams of fat are you saying to count that 1.5 grams of fat as 1 block fat and do not add additional fat.


wrote …


Yes to all questions. I follow the prescription you read above, with the exception that I vary 3x-5x fat depending on the "intensity" and duration of the wods. I've tinkered with some strength stuff using shorter metcons and I cut the fat a little those months, if not I add a little around the middle.


wrote …


What do you consider the duration of a heavy metcon day as you put it in comment #48? And if it is a shorter metcon day do you eat the same as a strength day?




wrote …

I have a question about ketosis that I'm having troubles finding the answer to. When reaching a state of ketosis how much fruit or let's say sweet potatoe does it take to bring you out of ketosis, i.e. looking at the post-workout meal. Also if one is brought out of ketosis how long before getting back into the state.


wrote …

Should I eat something right after I do a WOD? For example, today I got up, ate breakfast around 830 and then worked our around 10. Then ate lunch around 1. Will my performance and results be better if I eat more quickly afterwards? Thanks for any insight!


A full zone fat block has 3 grams of fat.
However we assume that there is some hidden fat in protein. For example 1 oz of turkey will have 1 protein block and 1/2 a fat block or 1.5 grams of fat.

So when we make up a meal you add in reality only 1/2 a fat block (1.5 grams) In the block charts though these 1.5g (1/2) fat blocks are just called a fat block. makes life easier.

Hope this makes sense.
(Zone diet coach, New Zealand)


wrote …

Bump on Jon Bell's comment! I'm in exactly the same situation and trying hard to gain mass and get bigger for strength and all reasons! Also, is there a full lecture available in the journal here somewhere? Please please? :)

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