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Eschewing the Fat by Andréa Maria Cecil - CrossFit Journal

Eschewing the Fat

By Andréa Maria Cecil

In Coaching, Nutrition

February 03, 2015

PDF Article

Many trainers avoid addressing the topic of nutrition with clients. Top CrossFit coaches think that’s a mistake and explain how and why they broach the subject with athletes.

Alyssa Guenther thought her coach was crazy. A vegetarian of four years at the time, Guenther often felt sick—upset stomach, headaches, general lethargy. Still, when CrossFit Roots owner Nicole Christensen asked Guenther about her diet and suggested she consider adding meat—specifically via a Paleo challenge—she was met with skepticism.

But Christensen was thoughtful about her approach. Christensen knew Guenther’s goals included being a lean and strong CrossFit athlete. Armed with information and support, Christensen felt Guenther could start to consider making the switch. She was right. And Guenther added meat back into her diet.

Nutrition is the base of CrossFit Inc. Founder and CEO Greg Glassman’s Theoretical Hierarchy of Development pyramid. Yet, CrossFit coaches often ignore nutrition or deem it too sensitive a topic to broach.

Maggie Tincher of CrossFit Fairfax and CrossFit Reston in Virginia said coaches must go beyond only concerning themselves with how much an athlete can deadlift.

Coaches must help clients understand that “whatever they eat affects their performance, and if they want to become better athletes, they need to change the eating habits,” explained Tincher, a member of CrossFit’s Level 1 Seminar Staff.

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7 Comments on “Eschewing the Fat”


Chris Sinagoga wrote …

First off, that Oreo looks soooo gooooodddd from up close.
(w/f safe)

Secondly, I really hate talking about nutrition. Most of the people in my gym are high school/college kids, and they really have no control over their food. Following the Zone does help because it is adaptable to just about any meal situation. But it's still pretty limited. Most of the time, I just encourage them to eat more of ANYTHING.


Alessio Piccolo wrote …

Dieting is the key for every success performance, but nutrition is a "religious" topic for most of us.

I want to share my personal experience: I'm vegetarian. I do eat eggs and milk, including cheese, but do not eat meat or fish. I'm a CF-L1 and a Box Owner. My CrossFit performances are constantly increasing and I have no limitation comparing to my colleagues.

The reasons I became vegetarian are totally moral, concerned to the cruelty on animals. I decided that this kind of diet is correct for me and I believe that anyone should chose what fits best for himself.

It would be interesting to compare my performances if I bring back meat in my diet. But I want to recall a basic concept: Paleo diet is not always aligned to the original CrossFit diet program which is the Zone Diet. If we strictly follow Barry Sear's instructions, protein requested for you daily intake can be found from several sources. Eggs, milk and also vegetal source like soy.

Another little thought about "being vegetarian" (or vegan): meat market is something cruel and obscene. Please spend some time to document about it before thinking about "veggie lifestyle" is so freak! :D

Hope to hear and read more Zone Diet variations in future! :p


Chris Sinagoga wrote …


Good points. It's cool to hear people understand that the Zone is flexible. Someone such as yourself who is vegetarian is perfectly capable of staying within you specific Zone parameters.

Also, I have watched one YouTube video on animal cruelty regarding slaughterhouse stuff and it was disgusting. I admit that I just pretended like I never watched it afterwards because, to be honest, ribs and steak and chicken are just too yummy! But it gives me a better understanding of where vegetarians are coming from. That stuff was messed up...


wrote …

I'm pretty solid on my own nutrition, but one of my students was really struggling. She was going to a local box, so I recommended she specifically ask the trainers to help her with nutritional programming. The response she got (told to me second hand, mind you) was mixed. According to her, they seemed okay with it initially, but later seemed reluctant to get into much detail beyond providing some references for her to follow.

According to her, the gym had a problem doing nutrition-specific instruction due to legal constraints associated with not having a professionally certified nutritionist on staff. Could this be part of the problem with some coaches hesitancy to do nutritional programming with clients? Is this legal constraint a real thing? Can a CrossFit gym get in trouble for giving nutritional advice without a nutritionist certification? Can I get in trouble for providing nutritional recommendations to the students I advise in a college setting, considering all I have is a Level I cert?

Thank you!


wrote …


It varies from state to state. There are states that regulate who can give nutritional advice. What state are you in?


Chris Sinagoga wrote …

Good point Anthony. I'm not thinking as much about the legal stuff, but it just seems theoretical.

I have complete confidence teaching someone Pose method. I can demonstrate why you cannot move without your hips going first, and how your muscles don't work when you don't have bodyweight available.

But I don't have x-ray vision so I can't really prove that carbohydrates have a certain effect once they enter your body. I'm not saying I don't believe it. But it just makes it more difficult.


replied to comment from Alessio Piccolo

I agree with a lot of what you said. In reflection on a lot of CrossFit diet push... well. I am very concerned with this push for diets. I am vegan. I also know most of the Elite Crossfitters are not Paleo and are far from it, I am not sure what is the push for this if the top athletes don't even follow Crossfit diet advice. It must not be the elite diet. I helped a man at my work reverse Diabetes on a plant strong diet by giving him good sources to read from which empowered him to reverse it. Another middle age manager at my work had two heart attacks I gave him Dr. Essylsten's Reverse heart disease book and his 75 percent artery that was clogged after 8 weeks when he went for surgery was completely clear. He has not had another incident since. I agree with the cruelty to animals and the environmental devastation of animal products. I am 37 and I look very young and I am fitter and stronger than I have ever been. I have been an athlete my whole life so it is not just because I am fit. I understand the lure and culture behind meat since I come from Spain and we are very strong on traditional staple foods. But after studying nutrition I soon learned that I don't want a mediocre diet I want the best and what gives me the most bang for my buck. I will also say no vegan, vegetarian ever approached me to change or so called converted me. I did a lot of research before making the change. I think people like meat so much they will believe anything and close their eyes to the evidence. I get that change is hard and I sympathize not telling people what to do but I try it for real before knocking it down. I not vegan for 29 years and I have both sides of the picture to have an opinion from. Anyway we all need to find our own way.

Wish everyone the best health and Crossfit journey.

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