In CrossFit, Nutrition, Videos

October 10, 2011

Video Article

At the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games, CrossFit founder and CEO Greg Glassman sat down with Fast Company Magazine to talk about CrossFit.

In this segment, Coach shares the origins of CrossFit”s dietary prescription: meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar.

In 1995, Glassman says he took a year off from training to travel with the founder of the Zone Diet, Dr. Barry Sears.

“We had a revolutionary message at the time,” he says. “It was: The carbs that you think are so good are bad—they’re killing you; in fact, that’s why you are headed towards heart disease and your mother has it.”

On tour, Glassman found that “nutrition and exercise are twin facets of the same goal or result, which is improved health and fitness.”

Glassman also discusses how the Paleo Diet has affected CrossFit nutrition.

“Paleo’s the easy paradigm,” he says, and it fits well with the CrossFit prescription—but alone it isn’t enough.

“There’s a better way than Paleo even, and that is to not just look at the quality of the foods but to simultaneously look at the quantity,” Coach says.

“When we move from Paleo to something Zone-like … we put the nutritional prescription on a quantifiable basis, we’re turning nutrition from religion to empirical science, and I begin to learn the lessons as to what happens when you tweak these knobs.”

12min 24sec

Additional reading: What Is CrossFit? by Greg Glassman, published March 01, 2004.

Free Download


37 Comments on “Nutrition: An Interview With Fast Company Magazine ”


wrote …

I'm going to point so many people at this video.
I don't know how many what amount to religious debates I've had with people about Paleo vs the Zone. What Coach says is exactly how I've always looked at it and part of my problem has been that since I first saw the Zone, all of this was immediately obvious. Consequently I had no process of discovery that I could use as a model to explain this to people who didn't get it. Of course you need to eat Paleo/Primal/whatever, but of course you need to be monitoring your macro-nutrient intake.
I couldn't get why they didn't get it. Which is why I'll never be a nutrition coach.
This puts it very well. Thank-you Coach.

This has my vote for needing to be a free download.


replied to comment from Craig Massey

And it already is a free download.

That's the problem when you automatically log yourself in to the journal every timer your session expires, you don't spot this stuff. :-)

Thank-you to the editors of the CF Journal for doing this.


wrote …

I hope there is a part II. I could listen to Coach talk on these videos for a couple hours (and chuckle every time he drops the f-bomb i love it) every video he puts up make me that much smarter or at least feel that much smarter. don't know it its effin' working yet tho.


wrote …

Awesome Video boss...jb


wrote …

Maybe if you a Crossfit games competitor, weighing and measuring can have some benefits. Although I still suspect most competitors don't. For the other 99% of the population weighing and measuring food is ridiculous. The original crossfit prescription Meat, vegies, nuts & seeds etc is pretty much spot on, no need to make food tedious and unenjoyable by making people count how many almonds they are allowed to have.


replied to comment from Aaron Wilson

You don't like weighing and measuring but you do like Coach' world class fitness in 100 words? Including the bit, "Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat."? Pretty hard to do that unless you're controlling portion size in some form. I'm guessing things kind of die down to a mumble at that point in the recitation.
Funny that people pick out the bit they like and ignore the parts that disagree with their personal views. Very much the way people use the bible really.


wrote …

I think it all comes to results. If you are making progress on a basic level--keep it up. Paleo is a good foundation. If you are having problems despite being Paleo, you need to start playing with variables to figure out what isn't working. If you aren't loosing weight on Paleo is different than if you aren't gaining muscle or don't have enough energy or have too many aches and pains.

This is where looking at the macronutrient composition, timing of macronutrients and even a look at micronutrients may be imnportant. To Zone you don't have to measure everything, but you need a sense of the blocks. If you estimate blocks and get stuck then maybe it is time to start measuring, but I think there are a lot of ways to make postitive changes without weighing food, at least from the start. Obviously the higher your level of fitness the more senstive you may be to these variables.

Great video.


replied to comment from Craig Massey

Craig, your comments are laughable.

You said 'Pretty hard to do that unless you're controlling portion size in some form'

Here is one form of controlling portion size that doesn't involve weighing and measuring a la the Zone. Meat & Fish - eat a good amount, Vegetables - eat alot, Nuts and seeds - don't go overboard, Fruit - here and there, Grains & Processed food - don't eat.

Wasn't quite as hard as you claim and I didn't need to pull out the scales once.

My point is that if you eat according to that great prescription that Crossfit originally advised you will be absolutely fine. My personal approach is make lean protein and vegetables the vast majority of what I eat, with a good dose of healthy fat when and where I feel like it. I carry low body fat, plenty of energy, sleep well and generally feel good.

A few years ago when I tried the zone, I drove myself crazy with weights and portions. Most people i know who have tried the zone have had the same experience. Many other people weren't silly enough to even bother. With maybe the exception of a Crossfit games athlete who is looking for an extra 1% no matter what the cost or effort, it makes no sense to put in all that effort for little benefit and I might add that any benefit is argueable.


wrote …

Mr. Glassman talks just like my Fluid Mechanics teacher it's fucking great. Greg is more entertaining though. Thanks for for unloading your knowledge without beating around the bush, much appreciated Mr. Glassman.


wrote …

Am I the only one who thinks Greg Glassman comes off as a bit pretentious, egotistical, and hypocritical? Dropping f-bombs, saying that he's the only one who knows how macro-nutrients work, all while drinking a Coors Light? Hmm...


wrote …

Awesome video.


wrote …



replied to comment from Chris Garay

I agree with you. At one moment in the video he says: High consumption of(REFINED)Carbohydrates are bad! But Raw Oats are not refined and they're good, brown rice, sweet potatoes.If crossfit athletes feel better while doing paleo/zone type of diet this is good but for a year and a half i personnaly try zone at first and strict paleo after for finally realise that it was bad for me. I feel better on high carbs diet and i don't eat processed food and i also make better choice for quality of food. You don't have to be on a paleo/zone diet to ''EAT CLEAN''. The last thing that is Illogical is that Mr.Glassman drink a beer and he talks about insulin sensitivity! The MALTOSE found in beer is responsible for the bigger insulin response by your body because the glycemic index is bigger than white bread ,cereal and soft drink glycemic index!


wrote …

I agree with Glassman one hundred percent. He isn't saying Paleo is bad he is just saying it isn't perfect. I get my new people eating. Then I get them eating right by using the Paleo guide lines. Then I move them to Zone to begin to real in the portions. You cant take someone from the couch and say "hey now that your CrossFiting give up everything you love and if you don't you will die" this just freaks them out and they will turn and run. I have found that if you ease them in and then give them the info they need or better yet encourage them to find it on there own they become much more receptie to the things you have to say. I am not a "world class athlete" and I am probably not going to be so I am not insanely strict about what I eat and I don't expect my athletes to be but I do want them to be smart about what they eat and know why they are doing what they are doing and I think this is the point that Glassman is trying to make. Or at least thats what I took from the video.


replied to comment from Nicholas Jackson

Nicholas, I'm glad you get a chuckle out of that. For my purposes, though, I can't/won't play this for my kids so they can to gain the wisdom Coach is giving directly from him. I have to relay/filter the information. The foul language adds *nothing substantive* to what he is saying.


Rob McBee wrote …

After years of actual coaching, real people, not on internet postings, I've NEVER had anyone get sustainable results from "just eat paleo". Only those that have also employed some method of precision and accounting have produced measurable results. Once they get the hang of it then no, they don't have to carry around a scale and measuring cup but they had to learn 'how much' first.

Weighing and measuring is just another example of disciplining one's self to taking care of the details. Its the same for anything in reality, not internet message sites. Saying it 'drives me crazy, invokes eating disorders, too much trouble' are just excuses.

This whole backlash against the Zone came from the paleo guru kool-aid drinkers and their personal dislike of Coach. Science and evidence never entered the debate.

Oh, and Coach. Keep Dropping the F-bombs! F-em' if they can't take a joke.


wrote …

Aaron, life is more hard than meausuring cups and scales! Eat whatever you want, no one cares except the girl that has to look at you!

Chris, I can't speak for Coach's poor beer choice (I'm a stout and ipa girl). But do yourself a favor and don't compare yourself to him... the shoes are TOO big, my friend!

And Michael, if your son can't handle the word "fuck" stick to CrossFit Kids videos, they are probably more both of your speeds. Psst, your kid probably uses that "foul language" himself when you aren't around... just a guess.

HQ: Thanks for doing what you do! You all rock!


wrote …



wrote …

Zoned for 6 months. Incredible insight gained about what my body prefers in terms of macros at the expense of neurotic weighing, measuring and eating at prescribed intervals. It works. No question about that, but is it necessary long term? Now I paleo at sub 10% bodyfat, still hit pr's and feel much less stressed out about food intake. I believe everyone should try both for the experience. I also believe everyone should have a beer from time to time to chill the fuck out.


wrote …

Saying eating clean and not exercising is the same as exercising and not eating clean is crazy talk. I know people that are VERY picky about what goes in their body (non-processed, raw, grassfed...yadda yadda) and I can tell you they are not in the same condition as um...Rich Froning, who has admitted, he eats like crap.


replied to comment from adele brewer

Thank you for your helpful advice.


wrote …

There are no scales in the jungle.


wrote …

Rich Froning may be the exception not the rule. If you look at gym all over the place, and this goes both within and outside of the crossfit community; how many people don't work their ass of in the gym and get little to no results.

The majority of your bodycomposition comes from the food you eat.
Sure you can have good genetics and get away with eating crap, but most people probably can't.


wrote …

Thank you...


wrote …

Fabulous, simply put and concise. I learnt a new way to express the simplicity and reasoning for progressing to the Zone Thanks :)


replied to comment from Jonathan Berg


All I am saying is that I don't agree with the statement that "ALL adaptations are the same" between exercise/no diet and diet/no exercise. I honestly think he was refering to biometrics, but even your statement infers that they are not the same. Exercise doesn't always improve body comp. and likewise eating clean is not going to give you pull-ups. I am not trying to be a dick or start shit but I definetly think that it has become blasphomy in the CF community to disagree with Coach and that's stupid.


Julianne Taylor wrote …

I wish Glassman had thought this out a little better, his brush off of paleo and describing it as a religion is just lazy.

Paleo IS based on science - there are excellent texts on the subject like "Food and Western Disease, Health and nutrition from an evolutionary perspective" by Staffan Lindeberg, with over 2000 references.

Sears has based all his work on a selection of paleo concepts and ignored others.

Here are the main ways our SAD diets today differ from pre-agricultural diets

Ratio of macro-nutrients, paleo is more balanced on average
Omega 6 to 3 ratio, we have far too high 6 and low 3
Micronutrients poor diet now
Acid / alkaline balance - too acid now
Addition of gut irritants / anti-nutrients - phytates, gluten etc from grains and legumes in particular
Addition of "new" mad made chemically constructed additives / foods / fats
The addition of large amounts of refined high glycemic index carbohydrates
The addition of fructose and sugar

Sears uses the glycemic index / load issue, and rates all carbs as good or bad based on this value only
He takes an average of PCF ratios of hunter gatherer diets and all meals are constructed on this basis.
He recommends eating the right fats and decreasing N-6 and upping N-3s

Sears completely ignores the anti-nutrient problem of grains, legumes and dairy.
Sears ignores the toxic effect of fructose because it is low GI and he only takes GI into consideration.

I think the zone balance / food amount is a place to start with diet. But in my experience food quality should be the place to start Paleo by far.

Use rough zone portions and tweak from there.

Paleo is a template for nutrition, Zone is ONE tool.

If anything is a religion - Zone is - a cherry picking of paleo science, designed by one person.

Paleo benefits by ongoing research and discussion by a large range of scientists, doctors, nutritionists, and is not dominated by one person.


Julianne Taylor wrote …

FYI, I've done an extensive post on the Zone diet, it's rationale and my experience of the Zone diet compared to paleo eating.


wrote …

perhaps this would all be more relevant if Glassman wasn't so pudgy.


replied to comment from Thomas Bailly

ad hominem, much Thomas? I'm not one to get into hyperbolic debates about zone or paleo. Personally, I don't really care that much. Maybe I'm reading your comment in the wrong frame of reference, but you know as well as I do (and anyone else for that matter) that attacking the arguer (Glassman) will not give your argument lasting credibility.

100+ we go...


replied to comment from Aaron Wilson

"good amount", "a lot", "don't go overboard", "here and there".

These are not measurable and repeatable terms and they don't allow someone to control portions to the degree of what works best for an individual and what just works. It's wishy-washy at best.

The Zone simply allows you to put measurable parameters around your portions to find what you thrive on, not just exist well on.

Paleo dictates the types of foods you eat, the Zone measures how much. Simple.

Looking at it like Paleo vs Zone is is ridiculous.


wrote …

Thanks for these videos that you folks at The Crossfit Journal keep providing us. As a coach, I really value the teachings and words of those who are more experienced and well-versed in the many aspects Crossfit covers. Thank you a million times over.

To anyone who's upset or opinionated... please don't become a troll to the community. Do you have to agree with everything everyone says on the journal? No. That's the beauty of life and being human. Take what you like and disregard the rest, just as most people always do with things. It's so unnecessary to talk rudely of the people who've given us (As the community of Crossfitters) so much... Remember what life is really about!


Julianne Taylor wrote …

I agree - the argument should not be between Zone vs Paleo. Diet should be evaluated on the basis of what works, and what science backs up. 'Paleo' and 'Zone' are then only part of the mix.
What should really be developed are clear cut 'CrossFit nutrition guidelines', backed by science, studies and individual experiences. Guidelines which then keep evolving with science and experience.
Subscribing to one philosophy can limit ones openness when contradictory or new science or even anecdotal experience is presented.


wrote …

I have a question for the greater Crossfit Community. It seems that most people (including Dr. Sears) group foods into one category or another. I assume that this is done for simplicity's sake, but it seems like ignoring the rest of the macro-nutrients in foods could completely throw off the measurements. For example, 100 grams of broccoli has 7g of carbs, 2g of protein, and 0g of fat. So lets say I'm eating a 4 block meal, that means that I would need to eat 514g of broccoli if that was my only source of carbs. HOWEVER, that means that I am also getting 8g of protein. If you ONLY count Broccoli as a carb, you are eating a full extra block of protein. This holds true for the large majority of foods out there. Does anyone out there take all the macro-nutrients of all their food into account or does everyone just lump everything into one category or another (with the exception of the few foods listed as "combo items" in CFJ 21?



wrote …

Great stuff !


wrote …

The crossfit open/games is the big scale by which the community can weigh and measure itself and its ideas on everything. If Rich Froning eats what he wants as CF champ (without seeing a food diary we cant comment too accurately) then it is evidence that there are other ways to eat to perform. Whether Rich would perform better with either approach is conjecture at this point unless someone can talk him into it.


Awesome things here. I’m very satisfied to look your post.
Thank you

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