In Nutrition, Reference, Videos

September 25, 2009

Video Article

The Zone Diet was developed to treat heart disease and diabetes, but Dr. Barry Sears first tested his program on elite athletes and discovered it had profound effects on performance.

Traditional thinking suggests a simple relationship between calories in and calories out. Dr. Sears suggests a different way to look at things in this presentation held Aug. 8, 2009, in Orange County: in athletic performance, calories aren’t as important as their ability to produce chemical energy—ATP, or adenosine triphosphate.

“The more efficient you are in making ATP, the more of a competitive advantage you will have,” Dr. Sears says.

Furthermore, your hormones are directly linked to food intake, and you can regulate them by monitoring the type of food you eat and when you eat it. With carefully planned caloric intake during the pre-demand, demand, recovery and regeneration phases of exercise, you will give your body the fuel it needs to perform and recover. By controlling your hormones in this way, you can reduce inflammation, decrease body fat and recovery time, and produce a host of favorable physiological changes that will result in improved and even elite performance.

“You’re working real hard in the gym. Don’t let your diet work against you,” Dr. Sears says.

12min 22sec

Additional audio: CrossFit Radio Weekend Edition 15, first aired June 2, 2009.

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16 Comments on “Dr. Barry Sears CrossFit Presentation, Part 6: Zone Performance”


wrote …

In the video Dr. Sears actually raised a question which I have seen a couple of times on this site, but I haven't actually come across an answer that I could find satisfactory. Most of the replies were something like "Don't worry and don't think about this. Just keep doing what you are doing." If there is something better posted somewhere out there, sorry in advance.

Ok, so training + diet --> synergistic effect, i.e. you get better athletic results than just training.

But is training + diet better than diet without intense training, from a purely health point of view? Especially in the light of the inflammation caused by intense exercise, which Dr. Sears mentions as well?

There have been studies suggesting that training at the appropriate intensity actually has a long-term anti-inflammatory effect, but we are always aiming for high intensity. Is this still appropriate? Or is backing off and lowering the intensity actually better for long-term health benefits, than going all out all the time?

Thanks for any comments that could shed light on the subject.


wrote …

Great lecture series!

Does anybody replenish during the Demand Phase?
If so, then with what?


wrote …

I have heard a 4:1 carb to protein ratio is optimal but Dr. Sears does not elude to that by sayin a little more carb intake 30 min post exercise, not a lot. Did see Rob Wolfs vid the other day and he did however mention the 4:1 ratio. Any clarifications on this?

Thank You


wrote …

Yep, Rob like to double the CHO after heavy metcon type WOD's. Example would be based on 16 blocks, 4p-8c-0f PWO. For weight days, it would be 4p-4c-0f. Then just make up the fat throughout the day. It works for me.


wrote …

I believe Rob was referring to a competition type atmosphere, like the CF Games for instance. I wonder if he would still recommend the 4:1 for daily workouts.
Any thoughts on good post-wod carbs & protein? There is no way I can eat “real” food 10-15 mins after a tough heavy metcon.


Patrick Mcelhone wrote …

Is there any way we can these lectures as an auido file? Also anything from Barry Sears, Greg Glassman, Dave Tate....all the heavy hitters, would be great to listen to on long road trips. Thank you.


wrote …

I would very much like to know which carbs are recommended post workout, Rob Wolf talked about yams and applesauce, he also mentions maltodextrin. Now again, is this something that is maybe not as much daily basis as it is something that in the extreme circumstances of the games is the best thing because it is easy to digest?


replied to comment from Jordan Stoyanov

Very good question. The oxidative stress (and I would suspect pro-inflammatory stress)placed on the body by exercise is the product of intensity and duration, often expressed as training volume. One of the benefits of Crossfit training is that the training volume is kept in check (if you stick to the WODs), stimulating adaptation and limiting negative systemic effects. Mark Sisson (, author of the "Primal Blueprint", has written fairly extensively on this topic as well.


wrote …

I thought I posted on this earlier...guess it did not stick.

The exercise piece can be looked at from this paper:

The essence is "if we are not exercising, we are broken". We are wired as hunter gatherers and historically food supply was predicated on activity. This is why a Paleo/Zone diet + CrossFit is so powerful.

On the issues of post WO nutrition check this out:

Folks need to realize there is not a one size fits all nutritional Rx. Prescription needs to reflect needs, goals and current situation.


wrote …

Thomas, Rob - thank you for the replies (although I am not sure the first part of Rob's reply was in answer to my question).


wrote …

When Dr Sears says that, for recovery, you need to be eating a small amount of protein and a small amount of carbohydrates throught the day, in approximately a 1:1 ratio ... I think the easiest way of achieving this may be quietly sipping on glasses of milk all day long.

Is that the wrong conclusion for me to come to?


replied to comment from Anthony White

this is not how I'd tackle it and this is not how I've recommended the folks I work with tackle the PWO recovery issue. I recommend taking advantage of the PWO period to optimize recovery with a protein/carb combination. Subsequent meals are focussed on protein, veggies and fat. this is a point of departure between Dr. Sears' approach and my own. I'm looking for hormonal OPTIMIZATION with subsequent performance optimization, not hormonal "balance". Give the link to PWO recovery a read.


Great video. I've realy enjoyed the entire series so far. I use a Post Workout Recovery Shake. It's a 3:1 carb to protein ratio. Not sure what is best but this seems to work for me. Like Jeremy said, there's no way I could fathom eating real food after a "Barbara" or "Cindy" type workout. The shake is easy and mixes well with water in a shaker cup.


wrote …

So the recommended pre-demand concoction is something like 1.5P/1.5C or 1P/2C. That would require slightly more elaborate block partitioning throughout the day but it's simple enough.


wrote …

Great series! I appreciate Dr. Sears making this easy to understand and Robb Wolf elaborating on these topics. Although some of this is news to me, and I'm excited about that!

What I take home is this for each phase:

"100 calories of protein/carbohydrate" -Sears
Translated to 1.5 blocks of protein/carbohydrate.

"...take these things into account in the 'pre-demand phase' and the 'demand phase'." -Sears
Translated to same-as-above.

From Robb Wolf's post:
.25 of daily total protein + .5 of daily total carbohydrate for "big" WOD's like, the "Filthy Fifty" I presume?
And, .25 daily total protein + .25 of daily total carbohydrate for "small" WOD's like, "Back Squat 1-1-1-1-1-1-1 reps" I presume?

Question, "big" and "small" seems to be relative terms, so would Metcon and Strength/Muscular Endurance be more fitting?

" an IV drip." and "...a little more carbohydrate than protein." -Sears
Translated to finishing off the rest of your required blocks for the day and add in maybe a .5 block of carbohydrates, correct?

Please let me know if this is misunderstood in any way, thanks!


replied to comment from Richard Edwards

Accelerade - exact 4:1 ratio in each serving, plus it's a pretty good tasting "sports drink"

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