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Zone Chronicles: Fort Riley by Pat Sherwood - CrossFit Journal

In Nutrition, Videos

May 17, 2009

Video Article

Pat Sherwood is one of CrossFit HQ’s top trainers. He is on the road most weekends at the various CrossFit Level 1 and Level 2 certification seminars. He is also a great athlete who is cranking out some very impressive athletic performances. Proper nutrition is essential for optimizing performance. But how can that happen with so much time on the road?

This video is the sixth in a series in which we get up close and personal with Pat and his eating. He brings his camera to the meal and we see exactly what happens.

In this episode, Pat is at the Fort Riley Army base in Kansas for a CrossFit Level 1 cert. He goes out to eat on base at the PX with fellow HQ staff Joe Degain, Lisa Ray, and Jon Gilson, as well as two participants. Each one of them makes a slightly different choice, some more conducive to elite performance than others.

The video was shot on April 21st, 2009, two days after Lisa qualified for the 2009 CrossFit Games and 4 days before Pat qualified. These are serious athletes competing successfully with their region’s fittest.

The point of this series, unlike many of the other nutrition videos in the Journal, is not to address the theoretical tenets of diet, but rather to look at the real world habits of athletes and trainers performing at the top of their game while maintaining significant work and travel schedules.

7min 32sec

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98 Comments on “Zone Chronicles: Fort Riley ”


Brian White wrote …

That was an excellent piece in that I am also military and your choices are limited on base. It seems like those are the only options on every base in the States. I also would have order the same as Pat. Its difficult to stayed disciplined with such poor choices but this shows that you can. Great job Pat. I am sure that our military brethren will enjoy this.


wrote …

Their options were not constrained by being on base, but by where they chose to eat. The PX only offers fast food. Most bases also have an Officers Club and an NCO Club where you can get sit down meals, usually a buffet with meats, veggies, and salad. Most larger bases also have a golf course with a short order grill where you can get a grilled chicken sandwich (ditch the bread). Finally, if you are with a unit you can eat at the chow hall, where they always have meat, fruits, vegetables, and a salad bar.


I noticed that this was the sixth in a series so I went back through the archives and watched each in order. Really interesting to see what the pros eat while on the road. I don't travel nearly as much, probably three or four times a year, but it's rough sticking to paleo/zone and it's really a matter of "just do the best you can with what you have."

I was really surprised to see the very commercial army "food court." I work as a civilian for the Canadian army and any base I've been to has a large base-run common mess where you can get some pretty healthy food options. For about five bucks you can get a "light lunch" which includes a soup, custom-made sandwich (which I've always been able to get without bread), a large salad bar, and fresh fruit.


wrote …

Pat shows us how to be prepared for the unknown and unknowable yet again! Well done squeezing the maximum nutrition out of an unappetizing set of choices. I'm afraid I don't have the smile and charming manner to cajole such a stunning set of menu modifications from a fast food restaurant. Perhaps you might start considering packing some rations to put the odds more in your favor.


wrote …

Mr. Sherwood,
would you care to elighten me as to what you ate after the first day of the qualifiers??? i'm refering to your late night munchies!!! hahaha i should have had late night ice cream too, maybe it would have helped! great series as always.


wrote …

Quite surprised at the 4/6 people who drank pop. Not to rain on the parade...but, seriously?!


wrote …

A lot of these objections have been raised before in the comments to other installments in this series. The description does a good job, I think, of cutting off some of these objections at the pass by noting that it is not a theoretical set of optimal guidelines but rather a look at how real folks who can bust some ass eat when they're on the road. If anything I'd think it would come as a welcome surprise that competitive performance can be obtained without being shackled to a scale and set of measuring spoons. Some folks have better genetics and youth on their side, and it's also true that some people got to CrossFit in relatively better shape than others -- all that's true. But I think it's nice to have a walking example that performance doesn't require 100% adherence to Zone/Paleo.


Herm Blancaflor wrote …

@ #2 Charles:

I agree. I'd love to see them eat at one of the unit's mess halls, where many of the typical Soldiers eat breakfast and lunch. THAT would be great enlightenment for the average Soldier who wants to save a few bucks and eat in the unit's DFAC in a Paleo/Zone manner. When I was in, I never had a problem eating relatively healthy in the FAC.


wrote …

Once again, I'm shocked that kind of thing is being posted!?

If you can't leave the base that's one thing........But I travel all the time and I would still NEVER eat at a fast food restaurant, for taste reasons and general health alike.

Travelling a lot is no excuse ........neither is the whole "real people have to eat this kind of garbage from time to time" argument. Is it that hard to go to a grocery store?

Or pack your lunch for that matter?


Herm Blancaflor wrote …

@ #9 Mike Mallory, ever heard of an "MRE"? Your attitude here tells me no.

Many Professional Soldiers and other professionals do not have that luxury all the time. Not everyone has ideal conditions all the time. You and I are lucky to have the option to choose each meal's quality. Pat's Zone Chronicles is helpful to many people, including many of my clients.


Glenn Siegrist wrote …

I gag every time I walk by a "Food Court" on any military installation. The smell of nasty grease and the sight of people who have way to much extra credit pounding a few more inches of waist girth into their mouth is more than I can look at. Case in point look at the people walking by in the back ground of the video.

I would suggest the next time CF does a Cert. on a Military post; have your host take you by the Commissary and hook up a proper zone meal in less time than it would take to wait in line at the "Grease Court" and lets not forget the chow halls as well.

As for the # 10 post saying people don't have an option where or what they are going to eat is just piss poor planing!


Active duty Air Force...on a military installation pretty much everyday. I understand many military folks work shift work (I did for awhile)--a lot of the time they cannot "leave their post"...uncontrollable and understandable.

I actually have the luxury of working some pretty decent hours. With that said, does the base where I am stationed have your nasty Food Court, overly-processed food? Of course it does. Almost every day of the week, I make it to the commissary and put together a nice Paleo/Zone-friendly meal. I'm pretty much in and out in about 10-15 mins (depending on the line).

I like the Zone Chronicles. They offer some great advice and examples of what you can do when the "less than ideal" option is thrust upon you. you think they're eating like that every meal? Don't think so...


wrote …

Great series and awesome information as always. I'm a little surprised folks are up-in-arms over the fast food but I guess that comes from being on the road 2-3 weekends a month. There are airports which are easy to wrangle a paleo/Zone meal, others are pretty tough. the point here is that there are almost always "better" and "worse" options and over time those choices can add up to elite performance or sub-optimal results.

Great work as always Pat!! I've said it before but it's worth saying again, Pat is one of ,if not the best, lecturer for HQ.


wrote …


I'd love to see a Zone Chronicles "In-Laws" edition. Forget being on the road and having to choose between Subway and Wendy's, let's see The Zone/Paleo broken down for mom-in-law's special pasta with extra sides of bread. Double bonus - work in turning down your father in-law's birthday cake. Give me a food court any day.

Great job as always.


wrote …

After watching this vid I tried ordering a 12" Subway-sandwich on a 6" bun today for lunch. It was a struggle, to say the least....
"I want a 6" footlong...
I want 12" worth of meat, veggies, mayo and cheese on 6" of bun..."

Long story short, i ended up with a double-meat 6" oven roasted chicken breast with the works (no pickles) and heavy on the mayo, and I left half the bread. I would do a salad, but that's so much harder to shove into my face two-hands at a time.

As far as fast-food type options, subway seems to lend itself to zone/paleo better than most.
#1. Do you ever eat subway?
#2. If so, how often?
#3. If so, what sub do you order most often? (Please be as detailed as possible)



wrote …

Not Pat, but I'll chime in here:
I'm wickedly allergic to wheat, so Subway might seem bad option but it's not. I ask for 2 sandwiches worth of meat (typically turkey or roast beef) in a salad container with a whatever their green salad mix is. I guesstimate this to be about 4 blocks of protein and at least that much fat. Not much carbs yet. I'll then hit a Starbucks which has apples (2 blocks of on the 50% carb plan like Pat) and a Grande Americano which I top with the whole cream they keep behind the counter. This rounds the fat out to about 25-30 blocks. If you;re not familiar with the 50% carb dealio, when we delete carb blocks we add 3 fat blocks for each carb block deleted. This meal then looks like 4P 2C 30-40F (5x fat makes about 20F, since I delete 2C in this meal I need about 6F extra. I've weighed and measured enough at home to know what that whole cream and salad dressing come out to.

We frequently have only a few minutes between connections so this meal is quick and easy to throw together and most airports have the goods. In a pinch a Whooper (no bun) or similar hunk-o-protein can fill in for the Subway. This whole process keeps one on track with the Zone, pretty Paleo and more or less gluten-free, if so desired.


wrote …

I too am dismayed at a couple of things in this video... Firstly to echo the thoughts of Leah, why the glorifying of the diet pop? Okay, sugar is evil and messes up your ratios, but water has none of the calcium-leaching phosphorous or aspartame/sucralose crap in it... Lisa Ray has the right idea!! If you crave the sugary flavour, then maybe your body is trying to tell you something?

Also, no matter what ratios you are eating, be they zone or otherwise, no one can convince me that bacon, lunch meat, and gobs of ranch dressing are quality foods. Crap food is crap food, regardless of how you portion it!!! And yes, I know the idea was to show "real life" eating but if that's what you eat in real life, your performance is not being helped by your diet but hindered by it.

I am convinced that most people with an understanding of proper, healthy nutrition should make better choices (in general, lisa's wasn't too bad) than were shown in the video.


wrote …

Nutrition (also called nourishment or aliment) is the provision, to cells and organisms, of the materials necessary (in the form of food) to support life.

Food, defined as:
Material, usually of plant or animal origin, that contains or consists of essential body nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals, and is ingested and assimilated by an organism to produce energy, stimulate growth, and maintain life; something that nourishes or sustains in a way suggestive of physical nourishment.

This is simple, none of what was shown in the video was necessary to support life nor did it nourish in a way suggestive of physical nourishment. In short, none of that was food and none of it was nutritious. There is a difference between food and something that is edible.

Examples of food: raw cashews, (real) chicken, cucumbers
Examples of things that are edible: cardboard, ANYTHING from a fast food restaurant, shit

I don't care what the 'real life' argument is for eating this way. There are always better choices than this, and CF (who claims to be setting the bar for fitness) should make a better effort to demonstrate how to eat effectively, even if you travel a lot - it is possible. CF insists on people putting max effort into their WODs. It's time that they start insisting that people put max effort into controlling what they put in their mouths.


wrote …

just re-read my post. It's a bit of a FRAT posting.

I think I'm with Cam #17 (as opposed to Cameron #18 who is a little high handed for my liking)

I constantly flirt with the idea of the zone as it seems like a brilliant way to get my 37 year old body from 12% down to about 8% fat and achieve the glory on the beach and the increased pull ups that I've always felt I deserve.

But whenever I see what it entails, it doesn't seem too healthy. Nobody is going to convince me that regularly eating double mayo or cholesterol & fat free almond butter or regularly getting my carbs only from strawberries is healthy, even if it does somehow create an internal reaction that leads miraculously to my dropping 3 kg. Likewise, watching Pat claim to eat the same meal several times per day regularly doesn't feel like it is balanced in the same way that crossfit itself has such a balanced approach to nutrition. (btw, Pat is clearly a terrific athlete and trainer so no criticism, it just seems to me that his diet is too one dimensional in both aim and execution)

Likewise, diet coke/soda may be zone friendly but it also does pretty bad things to your guts, makes you burp a whole lot and contains some pretty unpleasant chemicals that don't do your teeth or insides many favours.

I'm certain it is possible to go paleo on the zone and make it work in a way that would fit my definitions of a healthy diet but I don't think it is practical for somebody who is away from home for 14 hours each day and has two kids and a wife who needs my support and help, rather than more detailed weights and measures in the kitchen.

Not sure what conclusion I'm reaching with this so apologies if anybody else has struggled through it but I believe my approach to nutrition is healthier than the zone. it is...

10 serves of fruit or vegetables each day
maximum 2 slices of per day
lean, unprocessed protein with every meal
no chocolate, bags of chips or fried food (except on weekends occasionally)
make sure any snack includes raw nuts
at least 4 alcohol free days per week

if there is anybody out there who thinks I could incorporate the above into a zone approach in a way that didn't cost me too much time (I eat b'fast and lunch at work each day) then I would be very grateful for their advice


wrote …

If you are looking for simplicity, paleo is it: meat & veggies, nuts & seeds, some fruit...

It actually sounds identical to your meal. that considered however, it is NOT a big deal to weigh and measure a few meals, get a general ida of how much say a 3 or 4 bloc meal is, and then eye-ball from there. This is particularly effective if the food choices are solid.

food quality DOES matter...bacon IS quality food ;)


wrote …

Hello Everyone!!!!!

It's 12:39am on Tuesday morning and I'm exhausted. I started the flight home from Brisbane, Australia yesterday morning and I'm finally home. It involved a 13 hour flight, then a 4.5 hour layover, then a 3.5 hour flight, then a 2 hour layover, then a 2 hour flight. Whew, that took a while. Anyone want to take a guess as to whether everything I ate was paleo/zone? Or whether I feel like I should have drank some more water? Or does it seem more likely I had to deal with some processed crap food and make some decent choices? I'll leave that one up to you all. But that is the stuff we speak about occasionally when we mention "real life". Sometimes U.S. Customs does not care about your precious organic beef jerky. (even though you tell them it was commercially sealed)

Someone in an earlier post mentioned that you would always be able to find a better choice than where we ate on base. That is simply 100% wrong. Anyone who was ever in the military can probably tell you plenty of stories about not being in control of their own lives during certain activities. It happens every day where a van of army dudes or navy dudes, etc, get dropped off in front of the fast food place on base because that is where the senior guy in the vehicle TOLD them they were going to eat. (because that is where he wanted to eat, and he has the rank) So they have to make food choices there or not eat all day long. Yup, that's real life. It happens.

Yes, diet coke it bad. Yes, it is rotting my brain as I type this. There are vices out there in the world, and I have some of them. I choose to include them in my videos and take the heat, rather than be unethical and act like I don't drink it. I know....I'm not perfect in my nutriotion and diet coke is bad. I get it. Have I mentioned how delicious it is? hahaha

Robb Wolf....great to hear from you, bro. Thanks so much for diving into those questions. I truly appreciate it!

And I would like to echo what Robb stated.....Bacon IS quality food.

Jason!! Good to hear from you bro! Yeah....I had ice cream between day 1 and 2 of the qualifiers. It was butterfinger I believe, and it was great.

Alright nice.......I'm exhausted and going to bed.



wrote …

Pat, I heared the Brisbane cert was awesome. I live in Sydney but will be attending the Melbourne cert later this year. Hope to see you there.

Hi Robb,

Thanks for your comments. Yes, I'd eat bacon with every meal if I could.

I guess my concern with going zone/paleo when eating breakfast and lunch at work five days per week comes down to how I get my carbs and having some kind of variety. I would think I'd start on 16 blocks - 6 ft, 84kg about, 12-13% BF and I average 5 WODs per week and train pretty hard. 16 sound OK?

Protein is easy right - just cook chicken on weekends to take to work & supplement with good quality deli turkey/roast beef and cheese slices and put in the fridge.

Fat is a little more problematic. Easiest and most accurate way to do it is with nuts & seeds. But I'd worry that doing that 5 days straight will put me in a straightjacket. What else can I go for

Carbs for me are toughest. How can I get 4 blocks of carbs three times a day without jumping into bread or wheat all the time? Right now I have a non sugar/salt wheat breakfast cereal with milk and protein powder for breakfast and then grainy s-wich with meat & veg for lunch. But to go paleo would mean leaving those two behind. ANy ideas?

Clearly, I'm not asking you to do a weekly menu plan and I do ha ve access to the Zone CF Journal but I guess any pointers from the above info would be very very gratefully received.

I'd love to see how my body responded to a zone diet and I'm prepared to make life a little more difficult for myself but am not the kind of person who can sacrifice too much variety or commit a huge amount more time to my diet.

(seems like another FRAT posting). Sorry


wrote …

Hi Pat-

Thanks for the great series! Keep 'em coming. I do have a question. I would consider myself a beginning Crossfitter, beginning to merge into the intermediate category. I am just now starting to do some of the WODs Rx. I have only been doing CF for 5 months and a Zoner for 3 months and have seen tremendous gains. I have lost a fair amount of weight(20lbs)/inches(6) and have improved my WODs by leaps and bounds (finally able to complete the Fran P/U with no bands!) but I still have work to do. I am 33, 5-10, 226lbs with excess body fat. While I have never bonked WODs on a consistent basis and overall my energy level is good I have toyed with halfing my CHO and increasing my fat intake in hopes of burning more fat, losing more weight and advancing my CF training. Is there a "good" time or an "optimal" time to icrease my fat intake? If I am still carrying excess fat, should I hold out until I trim that fat first and then increase my fat intake? Would it be harmful/beneficial to add extra fat to my diet at this point?

Thanks for any advice you could bestow upon a young neophyte!


Brian White wrote …

A good alternative to bacon is....turkey bacon. I eat at least 6 slices of it everyday along with 4 eggs over easy. The turkey bacon tastes better to me and is a tad leaner.


wrote …

It seems there are a few posts above suggesting that they don't agree with the zone because they don't think the choices are healthy. I would suggest looking more closely at a block chart which suggests that the leaner meats are the favorable, preferred choices,that non-starchy vegetables and fruits should be chosen, and that fats should be added to the diet from mostly mono-unsaturated sources. When done according to the Zone literature or CFJ 21, the food choices within the zone are very healthful by nearly anyones definition. The zone doesn't tell you to eat a lot of bacon and cheese ... that is the individuals choice.

Pat ... I live on a military base and am part of the program that works with the fitness failures on improving their scores and health. It is a common view point amongst them that they have no other choice but to eat at fast food. One actually said "The air force makes me eat at burger king".

That may be. But, the Air Force did not make that person choose to order a double whopper biggy size meal. Burger King has salads. They can order them. Robb gives a great suggestion with ordering the salad with extra meat then getting some fruit from starbucks to get some low GI carbs. Or save some money and bring your own fruit. Fresh, or dried. Plan ahead.

Throw a 3oz. can of tuna (the small ones can make it through airport security. Not sure about australia, but I've taken them between USA and Germany several times) in your bag and have it on a mixed salad. If you need some fat, hopefully you brought a bag of mixed nuts with you. If they confiscated it, have some cheese on the salad. Why make it tough?

#22, Nick ... to get 4 blocks of carbs quickly. Eat Two Oranges, or two apples, or one of each, or a handful of mixed dried fruit, or a banana and a cup of cooked peppers and onions. Even better if you emphasize the veggies more and go with a steamer bag of frozen brussels sprouts or snap peas. Too much volume? Have some dried plums.. There are many more options than what would fit in a comment here.

Many of the health benefits of the Paleo diet and the Zone are the emphasis on increasing vegetable and fruit intake. You will derive some health benefit from replacing some starch carbs with veggie/fruit carbs regardless of what your macronutrient ratio is.

I like that Pat's showing what he does on the road. I also really like that he is being honest about it and not showing us a planned photo op of some 'perfect meal' that he has once in a blue moon while hiding away his regular eating habits beneath a rug. It seems to work for you, so keep up the good work. In my opinion, if you had a little more veggies and fruit with your choices your long term health would likely be improved (regardless of performance).

One other note is that in my viewing of diet records of a lot of our improvement plan participants ... too many carbs. Fast food often too. But too many carbs still. Many of them choose shitty fast food lunches, then think they make up for it by having a bowl of cornflakes with skim milk, a glass of OJ, and Toast without butter in the morning. Fat Free is good right?... Balance darnit!


I have a question for Rob Wolf. I dont follow Paleo or Zone but eat many of the foods they call for. As for nuts and seeds... I mostly eat pecans, almonds, walnuts and brazilian nuts. Are there any I should add and/or delete? ie...what about sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and so forth?


wrote …

#22 Nick I am also going to echo what PJ said about the fruits and vegetables instead of grains. The issue that lots of people have is that to get the amount of carbs means eating a lot of veggies and some people don't want to/can't eat that much. If you find it hard to eat that much veggies, cut your carb blocks. For every carb block that you cut add 3 blocks of fat. (Thanks Robb for that advice.) It's an easy way to handle getting the same amount of what it all comes down If your considering paleo or a mix of paleo/zone, sweet potatoes are ok and great for post workout. What is also suggested is cutting the carb blocks in half, moving some of them to post workout (sweet potatoes and a protein) and then have the rest of the carbs be veggies and some fruit through out the rest of your meals.
So it's really not hard to get the necessary carbs or replace them with fat, you just have to get ready to eat some greens!


wrote …

Food like religion is characterised by more unknowns than knowns, and most of what folks would like to assert as known (when reading from above) is not. That's why the feelings can run so high about something as simple as this video. Generally, the less a topic can be nailed down by science, the more emotional the arguments will be.

What I like most about CF's approach is that it works for many people, it pays attention to what science there is about diet, and it discriminates well between the lower quality and higher quality science of diet. Most of the folks who are pontificating above about the evils of a more pragmatic approach to eating have a faith based approach to food.

CF's stance has been on display for years - eat meat, vegetables, nuts, seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar. Seems to me that these vids are good examples of practicing what CF preaches. Paul


wrote …

Some super good suggestions/advices.

Nick, I'm going to be a little bit of a Dick here and call BS on the "variety" issue. Most folks DO NOT have much in the way of variety from day to day. We tend to eat pretty much the same stuff day to day, it's simply a question of whether the quality is good or not. Some other folks have mentioned that the carb issue can be handled by an apple and an orange. Conversely, you can shuttle up to 8 blocks of carbs post WO (yams, sweet potatoes, bananas and plantains are great for this) which dramatically streamlines the remaining meals. When I hear the "variety" plea I usually have a cookie monster who is gearing up for carb withdrawls! Keep in mind the weekendd is a perfect time to loosen things up and go for some bread, rice, potato type stuff. You know me, I try to keep fols off gluten/wheat for the most part, but friday night, saturday and sunday (nearly half the week) is available for a little latitude in the plan. It's not about perfection, its about finding what the elative return on investment is. The Pareto 80/20 is well represented here and the whole proposition need not be an austere, unlivable situation. When folks get in and DO this they find it is relatively simple to live with, yet amazingly effective.

I'll chime in here: You need to make a distinction between increasing the fat blocks to balance out deleting carb blocks and adding fat blocks for maintenance on the Athlete's Zone. The AZ happens once one is leaned out...WAY OUT. You are a ways off from this. I'd be shocked if you did not lean out faster on the reduced carb Zone. Delete half your carbs, add 3 fat blocks for each carb block deleted. If you were doing 16 blocks for exxample the day would look like this:
16P 8C 40F

I would further tweak that by putting half your days carbs post WO. This makes the Zone remarkably more effective.I wrote an article called "42 Ways to Skin the Zone" which details all this. Google it if you need additional details.

I like all the nuts and seeds for the most part. Just rotate through them and make sure to supplement with fish oil at about .5g/10lbs bodyweight per day. Nuts and seeds are pretty heavy in n-6 fats so it's important to balance those out.


wrote …


Thanks for the quick response and great advice! I'll try it and see what happens.


wrote …

I have a question for you experts.......I am a new Crossfitter(03/09), a mother of 5 and a grandmother of 4. I have been reading and studying the Zone stuff and I am concerned about the kids. I will get the book and learn more, but can someone point me in te right direction as far as their diets? My Marine son turned me onto Crossfit and I'm so pumped! I've always worked out hard, but you guys are kicking my ass!! It's great and I can see myself getting stronger by the day. I've actually gained 3# since I started, but I want to tweak the diet and feed the entire family as well(my husband has been gluten-free for 17 years, so that part is easy for us).


wrote …

Some people on here are priceless...bashing this food, that food, this drink or that drink that a trainer consumed. I love that the trainers are REAL and you don't have to live in a box or have a personal chef to reach amazing fitness levels. These trainers are qualifying for The Games! Apparently the diet coke didn't slow Pat down too much. :) Congrats Pat!


wrote …

Just keep it simple with the kids. Keep solid food choices on hand, jerky, fruit, nuts...real food, no weighing, no measuring, just solid choices. Nut butters on celery sticks etc are pretty yummy and super healthy.


wrote …

thanks for the advice Robb, Matt, PJ - very much appreciated. Robb, not sure you were being a dick at all, although I think my love of a sandwich has more to do with the fear of going paleo than a huge concern about the sugar.

OK, so I'm going to commit to the Zone and spend some time between now and then working through simple meal planning.

I think I'll start with a basic 16 block plan and see how that goes before going deluxe! (at 6ft, 184 at 13% BF is 16 blocks the right number?). Figure I can always go up one or two or add some fat later.

I also think that Mon to Fri as paleo with Sat & Sun in more relaxed mode will work better for me as life without the occasional sandwich and roast potatoes ain't worth living!

Kelly, in support of the people with lots of questions, I think it is fair to say that parts of the dietary recommendations of Crossfit are more counterintuitive than the exercise components and therefore mroe confusing.

Particularly when confronting the Zone for the first time, it all looks so precise and regulated and people believe that they have to do it r/x in the same way that people believe that they have to follow the WODs as r/x. When they see trainers breaking the rules or taking minor liberties with it, that confuses some beginners, while liberating and making perfect sense to those who have a great deal more knowledge on the subject.

either way, thanks again for all the advice.


replied to comment from Kelly Flora

Hi Kelly,

Clearly people can perform in spite of some of their choices nutritionally. The main issue I have with these videos is that they tend to glorify what I would consider to be rather poor choices. Coaches on this site are emulated for what they do... fair enough, good to show a "real" meal from a coach but perhaps also include some info in the video suggesting that diet pop and artificial ranch dressing and bacon aren't actually very good for you? How many crossfitters now might choose diet coke over water because Pat Sherwood drinks it? Would they likely see an improvement in performance if they did?


wrote …

#35, Cam

There is nothing wrong with eating bacon....nothing. (and I'm talking about real bacon, not that turkey stuff) I'm being totally serious. I would be curious as to why you think it is unhealthy, and don't say saturated fat or that is simply not a fact.

By the way, nothing is "glorified" in the videos. Have you watched all the vids? Did you see the one with me weighing and measuring my normal meal at home of turkey & strawberries? (some folks were not happy with that one either, can't please'em all I guess) We are showing a broad spectrum of meals in this series. And I will easily stand behind the fact that while some of these food choices are not ideal, one could do WAY worse.

Getting ready to do the 400's and air squats today. My breakfast of bacon and eggs (the entire egg, not just the whites) will be fueling me. I had a glass of water and an apple with it. Delicious.

Alright nice while I'm gone.



replied to comment from Pat Sherwood

Hey Pat, we watched all of your vids and my husband said I needed a cheat day and bought some chocolate almond ice cream and fed it to me!!! You're great!! Thanks.


replied to comment from Robert Wolf

Thanks, Robb


wrote …

You are spot-on brother. This is not about perfection, just making what amounts to minor tweaks that give huge return on investment.

I second what Pat said. Bacon is "just fine", whole eggs, awesome!

When people eat egg beaters or egg whites someone rips the wings off an angel in heaven. don't do it.


replied to comment from Kelly Flora

(also reply to Cam #35 and Nick #19)

To clarify my previous 'high handed' comment, the reason I get personally fired up about postings in the nutrition section of this journal is that it's always about what is ok to eat in terms of maintaining performance.

Kelly, I understand that Pat can drink sodas and eat butterfinger ice cream and qualify for the games. Or that Speal can down a piece of fish from Chipotle with enough sodium to kill a colony of slugs and still kill a WOD. And Nick, I know that I come off heavy-handed and non-diplomatic as my friends would say, and I'm sorry if my comments offended you, but this pisses me off.

Everything here is about performance, performance, performance. WHO CARES!!!! Will it matter that you qualified for the games or ripped off a 2-min Fran if your health starts to fail when your 45 or 50? I don't think so, and that's what gets me here. CF has all this beautiful info about how to exercise correctly for general fitness, GPP, etc. but it seems like more and more their postings about 'nutrition' are simply reinforcing the generalized idea of 'eat whatever you want as long as you workout' which I personally do not believe is conducive to long-term HEALTH. And I know that all these 'foods' are Zone-safe, but since when is the Zone the end-all, be-all of health. Not everything that Dr. Sears has put forth in his books is completely accurate and some of it is flat out wrong, but none of that ever seems to be addresed here either.

In the end, my gripe centers around the fact that CF isn't helping to change the way Americans approach what is looked at as health and fitness. I know it's Coach Glassman's goal to completely dominate the fitness industry, but is that a good thing? If all of this free information is for the sake of better performance, then I would have to say no, it isn't. Instead of people walking around a gym asking what you bench, you'll have a bunch of people walking around asking what your Fran time is. What's the difference. Will those people be more fit? Under CF's definition, yes, they will be. But it's the same toxic attitude with the wrong focus - performance vs. health. I'd rather have a productive, high quality of life in my 80's than have a killer Fran time when I'm 29 and if that means eliminating Taco Hell, soda, preservatives, MSG, food coloring or all the other overabundant and unnecessary things that are added to food, that makes my choice very, very easy.

-Cameron Day
UT-Southwestern Medical Center
Dallas, TX


wrote …

I'd have to echo your sentiments Cameron......just because one person can handle elite performance while eating junk food doesn't mean its good information.

And I've seen a whole host of professional athletes who eat worse than that and still maintain high levels of fitness. Being fit does not equate with being healthy, it can mask a lot of those problems.

Pat's choices are his own and he can do whatever he wants, but I think this is very bad information for the crossfit organization to rest on-


wrote …

I think we should have a day of food with OPT i guarantee he eats very very clean it would very informative and helpful to all.


replied to comment from Cameron Day

Your response has completely misunderstood the video, our approach to nutrition and fitness, Coach Glassman's long term intent, CrossFit's definition of health, and CrossFit in general. Harsh? perhaps. Unfounded, not at all.

You wrote, "I personally do not believe is conducive to long-term HEALTH." Who cares what you personally believe. What we are talking about is measurable, observable, repeatable approaches to fitness and health that take personal beliefs out of it. Furthermore, neither Pat nor anyone else here is saying eat whatever you want. If that's what you saw, you are careless, biased, and/or stupid.

Take a look at CrossFit's new definition of health. It means sustaining physical capacity throughout life. What do you think having a high quality of life at 80 means? It means being able to run up and down stairs, move furniture, grocery shop, keep your third wife satisfied, etc. What makes you think that having a good Fran time doesn't help that? I know it does. How? I've personally worked with elderly folks who were on the brink of losing that physical independence. We built up their physical capacity using a variety of functional movements at relatively high intensity (of which Fran is one example) combined with measuring their favorite foods to eliminate chronically elevated insulin. The result? A better quality of life.

Finally, you wrote, "my gripe centers around the fact that CF isn't helping to change the way Americans approach what is looked at as health and fitness." HAHAHAHA. We are the only ones offering an objective metric that gives Americans (and all the world) the chance to redefine health and fitness that removes all personal opinions and faith based science.

Mike Mallory,
Pat eats "junk food" a few meals a week. But what does that term even mean? It doesn't fit some politically correct notion of "health"? That it was prepared too quickly? I know for a fact that Jason Khalipa, Josh Everett, Pat Barber, Caity Matter, Tanya Wagner, and Gillian Mounsey (that's 3 each of the top 4 men and women from last year's Games) eat "junk food" on occasion. In fact, the great majority of the world's best athletes do. Why? Because this concept of "health food" is misguided at best and completely irrelevant at worst.

Again, to restate the obvious, no one is advocating a careless approach to food. The Zone offers a level of accuracy and precision that no other diet does while both eliminating hyperinsulinemia and restricting calories. There is nothing careless about it.

Someone mentioned OPT. Sure OPT eats super clean. He also works from home and organizes his entire life around health and fitness. Good on him. I don't know many folks in the same boat. If that were the only way to have a good life, most of us would be hosed.

This is good news. Get your diet in line most of the time. Don't sweat the small stuff.


wrote …


You do understand that I only eat ice cream on my cheat meal, correct? Which since I eat 4 meals a day, or 28 meals a week, that comes out to one meal out of every 28 meals or approx .0357% of the time. Do you truly believe I will be of poor health when I'm 50 because of that? If you do, then cool, you are certainly free to any opinions you choose to hold. I feel differently.

I wholeheartedly enjoyed the line you wrote stating that I can drink sodas & eat ice cream and qualify for the games. What a wonderful over-simplification of the life I lead and the way I train. Nothing comes easy to me, however thanks for the implication. I'm not genetically gifted in any way, shape or form. If I train hard and eat well, I make gains. If I slack off on my training and my nutrition, it declines.

The Zone is not the end-all, be-all of health, but it is a great place to launch from. I don't think any one avenue of nutrition is without pros and cons. The challenge is to gain as much knowledge as possible in as many areas as possible....especially ones that disagree with your point of view. Then one needs to form their beliefs of health, fitness, nutrition based on that info and as much real world experience as possible.

A good friend of mine summarized why we like the Zone very well....
"We use the Zone b/c the Zone offers the accuarcy and precision needed to optimize performance. NO OTHER DIET DOES THIS. Exact inputs and outputs - like timing and recording your wods. You can overlay ANY food preference - be it diet coke, beef, and cheetos, or chicken, broccoli and nuts... it is up to the individual to decide based on education and experimentation (or whatever keeps them doing a little better than yesterday)."

If you truly believe that CF is not advocating a long term view of both health and fitness, I strongly disagree. Please do some more research here on the site and dig into the CF Journals. It is one of our cornerstones.



wrote …

Wow, it's all getting a little heated. Good, robust debate is a positive thing right?

I spoke to my wife about this last night and had her read the nutrition area from the Cert documents as well. She has almost finished her nutrition degree so isn't quite an expert but is pretty well informed.

Her view on the zone is in the main very positive. Most importantly, it cuts/limits the amount of high GI sugars that can lead to obesity, diabetes etc.

Her view continued that the best form of zone is a paleo version that limits any bad carbs and also one that sources the fat component from good sources - nuts, seeds etc, over saturated fats like butter, mayo etc (and she has a real problem with the olestra containing products).

HEr issue with the Zone as a long term healthy diet option though (and bear with me as my terminology gets shaky 12 hours later) is that the by product/cause of the body burning fats and proteins as primary energy source that leads to us losing excess fat is the secretion of something - is it a keytone?- that is in many ways toxic to the body and can cause medium and long term problems.

Again, I may have made some mistakes with the words & exact process but could I ask one of the more informed - Robb perhaps - to comment on this both in terms of the truth of it and the degree of danger that this may create?

From the above and all the anecdotal evidence, what seems indisputable is that if followed correctly, the Zone allows people to burn off excess body fat, which in turn aids performance and aesthetics. And this is what attracts me I must admit - would love to get my BF down below 10%.

But is it really something we can commit to longer term?

thanks for any perspectives on this



wrote …

And Pat, how were your quads on the final 400m? I find on the last lap I'm almost running with straight legs pointing at a strange angle!

I'm a few days behind the main site due to illness and not wanting to miss any WODs, so I've got Angie tomorrow, who normally kicks my ass something rotten


wrote …

Next Zone Chronicle: A Day in the life of Cameron Day. I challenge you to find a better program that makes more sense than CF when it comes health and fitness. Do you honestly think these trainers could physically look the way they do or PERFORM (because it's measureable)the way they do if they didn't fuel themselves right? Also, "performance" can mean a number of different things to different people. To my mom, "performance" is living independently and doing things for herself on a daily basis. "Performance" to a top trainer might just be a better Fran other's a faster mile time, etc.


wrote …

Pat -

Great series. It's refreshing to see someone take a "real world" approach to dieting whether it is the zone or some other diet. I've just started on the Zone (5 block) and feel great. The one question I have for everyone though is how they feel about alcohol (beer or wine). I enjoy a good beer (german in particular) every now and then. I know it counts against a block of carbs but is it still best to use it for a cheat day?


wrote …

Robb, I also wish for nick's question to be answered. Even still, how do you know if a food has olestra? On a side note, the Zone advocates a snack 30 minutes before you go to bed. Is it truly necessary or not? It seems some people just have 4 meals and no snack before going to bed so I am questioning whether I should continue to do this


wrote …

#46, Nick

My legs were stiff as boards on the last 400m run. Quite frankly, they are pretty sore even as I type this!


wrote …

I don't understand why paleo has such a negative stigma from the people on this thread. Humans co-evolved with the foods we need to live for thousands of years, so how does that change with, for example, the invention of partially hydrogenated oils? The food industry today is basically an arms race, with everybody trying to come up with sweeter or saltier foods than the already sweet or salty ones your taste buds have become desensitized to. Ive been on a sort of paleo/zone tweaked to my specifications for close to 8 months now and bananas are so sweet that I cant even enjoy them anymore. I think that if everybody cut the shit (as Cameron accurately called it) from their diets they would lose their tolerance for it and find pleasure in natural things like fruit.
I just dont see why everyone is firing back at these guys who are criticizing the way pat eats, calling them high handed or elitist or whatever. So what if they are? Isnt crossfit about elite performance? And isnt nutrition at the base of you athletic performance pyramid? People today are used to sucrulose and aspertame and corn syrup, so that makes them 'normal' or 'real' because everyone else does it, but taken in context of the human experience is whats normal always whats best?


wrote …

I think Cameron Day and Mike Mallory bring up good points. The point that seems to be missed is that the closer you follow the zone the more you will maximize your potential. Mallory said, fit does not equal healthy, which is true. Tony Budding said the great majority of professional athletes eat junk food. By Zone standards, these people would be MORE fit and BETTER athletes if they dialed in their nutrition.

As an aside: Tony, don't write about removing personal opinions and faith based science and claim the great majority of pro athletes eat junk. Unless you conducted a study, you are running your mouth. Furthermore, you said you don't care what Cameron Day 'personally believes' and then start a sentence with 'I've personally'. Who cares? That isn't science. Your condescending and arrogant attitude doesn't improve your message.


wrote …

Nick Williams,

They are 'ketones'. Ketosis is when you burn fat for energy and have a low carb supply. I think the proteins make up for the low carb diet via gluconeogenesis. Ketosis is not the same as ketoacidosis - which is what happens to diabetic. I don't think ketosis causes problems (whereas ketoacidosis definitely does), but you'd have to look it up or get an answer from someone else to be certain.


replied to comment from Tony Budding


I'd suggest you read Patrick Thomas' post, he makes a good point.....

My views on nutrition are in no way politically correct. I just eat unadultered food, that's all. Fast food is so rife with neurotoxins and other gnarly, liver shredding chemicals that there is simply no way to justify it. For health reasons, for environmental concerns, whatever.

All you have to do to find out what REAL health is, is go back 100 years and study the work of Dr. Weston Price.....Or read pottenger's cat's to get a good look at what food quality means. Those studies were done over generations, with REPEATABLE precision. And somehow, incredibly, they did it without the zone diet?!

If you can't find objective measures for health beyond our current politically correct views on health, you just haven't done your homework, plain and simple.

I don't feel like I'm nitpicking here by criticising the videos, because out of five or six videos, there isn't a thing I would eat, besides the turkey breast I think I saw in one of 'em.

How can you claim repeatable precision when the food quality is so far across the board? Nutrient levels very dramatically when farming methods differ. There are countless studies in the field of soil science to back this up.



replied to comment from Nick Williams

If you'd like to bring up information from mainstream/collegiate nutrition science ... "At rest, and during normal daily activities, fats are the primary source of energy, providing 80% to 90% of the energy. Carbohydrates provide 5% to 18%, and protein provides 2% to 5% of energy during the resting state."

"much of the energy required for low intensity levels of exercise (25%-30% VO2 Max) is derived from muscle triacylglycerols and plasma fatty acid oxidation, with a small contribution from plasma glucose."

-Exerpts from "Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism; Fifth Edition" (2009).
Your wife should have this book if she's working on a nutrition degree.

It's current and pretty detailed. However, it's a textbook and all the research that is referenced is given 2nd or third hand. It IS a standard part of any collegiate nutrition program with a didactic curriculum and is what the sciency types study.

As exercise intensity increases, the proportion of carbohydrates used for energy increases.
... At high levels of energy expenditure, 70-80% of VO2 max, carbohydrates may contribute more than 80% of the energy sources.

Most of the day [because most of us are only doing high instensity exercise 30-90 minutes per day, right?] we prefer to burn fat as energy. Some carbohydrate is needed by the brain, and some during very intense exercise. We make ketones all day long. Zone or not. There's some interesting literature out there exploring if adaptations can occur allowing the body to metabolize fat more efficiently during high intensity exercise as well. Which would mean that an athlete like PAT may have made some adaptations where he can burn more fat during an intense workout than a non-adapted person. That's speculative for the moment.

Burning fat for energy is safe. One thing that I'm hoping Robb could help comment on is: If we prefer to burn fat for energy ... then when we have excess carbohydrate, would the body prefer to convert the carbohydrate to fat first, and then burn it as fat. Or would burn the carbohydrates as is? I've been doing some research trying to come up with solid references on that question.

With reference to the 'danger of ketones' ... please distinguish between ketones and ketoacidosis. There is a big difference and this is a common confusion.


wrote …

thanks for the additional info PJ & Matt. I think I'm nearing my informational threshold on this one but I definitely feel better informed than 2 days ago and hope the rest of you all are enjoying the debate.

either way, from Monday, I'm committing to a 16 block Mon to Fri paleo regime with significant relaxation in terms of allowable bread, potatoes and red wine from 7pm Fri to 6am Monday.

I'm giving it two weeks to start with and will then continue or amend as appropriate.

I'll let you know how I go.

And Pat, glad I'm not the only one who struggles around those 400s!


Hey PJ...have I ever told you that you're my hero?!


wrote …

Hi Pat,

My anti-bacon stance is more to do with the preparation method than the actual meat, although I must admit I'm not completely sold on the need to increase one's saturated fat and cholesterol intake, those are usually taken care of in the diet of anyone who isn't super-fat-concious. The frying of foods and fats in particular is linked to the production of nasty adulterated compounds that aren't healthy for our bodies. Bacon is typically fried so although the raw product in and of itself is not that intimidating, the preparation of it via frying is not a healthful way to eat.

A similar situation exists with the oxidization of egg yolks when employing methods like scrambling or making omelets. Boiling eggs is the preferable method of cooking as frying or cooking in a microwave (yes it is possible) decrease the number and bioavailability of "good" lipoproteins and increase the number of mutated lipoproteins.

Regarding one of the comments about top athletes eating junk food, the absolute truth is that these people are freaks and quite honestly most of us would be shocked to see their training routines and diets. Some of the most lean and muscular people I have known have the worst diets and can afford to do so because of their physiological make up. Some of them are stronger after a 6 month period of lazing around than I could ever be after 6 years of training.

To echo another poster's comments, are these athletes achieving greatness because of their terrible eating habits or in spite of them? And furthermore, how much better could they be if they followed a more healthful and performance-oriented training program?

One last point about the comments I made about glorifying the nutritional choices... I still believe that putting up this video with an acceptance of the food choices made is going to have more influence than the good videos put up before it. Quite honestly, most people are lazy and will search for the tastiest and easiest food choices. The natural tendency for the average American is going to be towards those fast foods. It's okay to show these meals but in the same video there has to be a strong admission that it isn't okay to eat like this if your goal is optimal health and fitness.

Thanks for contributing so much to this discussion (Pat, Tony, Rob)


replied to comment from Matt Solomon

Cameron said he personally believed something wasn't healthy. That is an opinion. I said I've personally experienced success with a variety of athletes. These are data points. Are a few data points conclusive evidence? Of course not. But if you can't understand the difference between a personal opinion and a personal experience, you're missing basic science. My experiences are data points. As are yours. If you have counter examples, let's dig in to it. For example, do you know of any feeble adults who have been introduced to functional movements and a balanced diet who did not improve their physical capacity and thus had a better quality of life (everything else being the same)? I don't, but if you do, that's a contrary data point not an opinion.

My strong statements are not arrogance; they are an intolerance for evidence-free assertions about diet, fitness and health. Look at this thread from that perspective. So many of these assertions about what constitutes a "healthy diet" have no data associated with them. Now, I don't consider ketones and lipoproteins relevant data points because I don't know how they relate to my ability to perform the physical tasks in my life. The same is true about micronutrients. So far, I have yet to see any data aligning micronutrient components with changes in performance.

Fitness is the ability to accomplish the tasks of life. We can measure this by work capacity across broad time and modal domains. Health is the ability to sustain this fitness throughout life. Data points. If you can show decreased capacity from eating "fast food" from "slow food" or "paleo food" or whatever diet you adore while removing a differences in macronutrient composition, then we have data points to talk about.

Never has it been promoted that natural or paleo foods are INFERIOR. One of the great benefits of the Zone is that you can manage macronutrient intake with any foods. The point that many of us have been making is that so far, there is NO data suggesting that a paleo approach is more effective than the Zone with any other food choice. And, we have THOUSANDS of examples of folks dialing in their macronutrient (protein, fat, carbohydrate) intake and seeing dramatic improvements in performance independent of specific food choice.

Cam's question about are these athletes achieving great performance because of their nutrition or in spite of it is an excellent one. Here's my theory: for elite athletes, broad macronutrient balance is essential, but beyond that the difference is not nutritional. How can we test this? Well, the bigger CrossFit gets, the bigger the pool of athletes there is. Over time, the best practices will emerge victorious. If micromanaging diet is essential to elite performance, then those athletes who micromanage effectively will become predominant among the winners.

I personally know the great majority of the top 12 men and women from last year's Games. Of these 24, I know for a fact that 5 of them micromanage their diets (and only 3 of them with "paleo" type foods). I know for a fact that 14 don't. I can't say for certain about the other 5. Even if all 5 do, that is still a statistically significant minority. Now, we are still a nascent sport and our data is limited. But, we are talking about the very top of a pool of at least tens of thousands of athletes. We are watching very closely who rises to the top and what they do.

Again, for summary, no one has ever suggested that fast or highly processed foods are better, only that there's no evidence linking "pure" food to performance independent of macronutrient content. We are showing the real practices of real athletes demonstrating world-class capacity. Nothing more, nothing less.

Secondly, we have to talk about data points if we are to make any meaningful claims about diet, fitness and/or health. We have a measurable definition of fitness (work capacity across broad time and modal domains), which sustained throughout life becomes health. This metric, we claim, is the best one out there because it takes opinion and faith out of it. If paleo foods are better, they should improve work capacity across broad time and modal domains over time. We can use the same metric to evaluate dairy, supplements, steroids, and pharmaceuticals like statins. If you disagree with the metric, then let's debate that (it's already happening on several threads throughout our various sites). But until you have a better definition of health, the only significant metric is how these choices and actions affect work capacity throughout life.

There are several key differences between elite athletes and "average" folks. The elite athletes are highly competitive, highly motivated, and train with exceptionally high intensity. The average person is inconsistent in most aspects of their diet and training. For the average person, the discipline of WAMing (weighing and measuring) for macronutrient balance is essential, and we've seen thousands of obvious and dramatic improvements in broad capacity from it. We have no evidence to suggest that balancing macronutrient content with one type of food over another has yielded better results (and lots suggesting it doesn't matter).

In ten years from now, we might be saying that everyone should eating paleo, or only organic, or tofu, or that going barefoot for 7 hours a day is necessary. But if we do, it will only be because we have measurable, observable, repeatable data points for these things significantly improving work capacity across broad time, modal, and age domains.


wrote …

I feel like since the advent of the crossfit games the tone of the site has shifted so much. In the post above this one Tony says, "Fitness is the ability to accomplish the tasks of life." I couldn't agree with that more. And for me, Crossfit is and always will be a means of achieving that end and not an end in itself. Instead of serving as the foundation for a training program to make you a successful boxer, civil servant, mountain climber, soldier, etc., I feel like CF has become an end in itself designed to make good crossfitters not good athletes. This is why its generally accepted by the CF culture to do butterfly kips, pisspoor burpees, and countless other little tricks that undermine virtuosity, which is not measurable, for the sake of time which is. Going back to the athletic development pyramid I referenced earlier, the top tier is sport/performance right? I feel like crossing the line into that top tier is where "measurable, observable, repeatable" looses its sway, because you cant quantify guts. Who cares if I can neatly extrapolate my work capacity in all metabolic pathways into a nice even slope, or even that the area under that line is greater for me than the man Im boxing if he beats my ass in the ring? I think its genius that you guys at HQ came up with a way to measure fitness, it definitely has its place but its just part of the picture. I think dismissing arguments that are strongly grounded in reason because there are no 'data points' behind them is absurd and short sighted.


wrote …

Great posts, it's always fun when people like Pat, Robb and Tony jump in. Quick question relating to optimizing health. As we all know that the standard Crossfit zone activity multiplier is 0.7, has anyone seen success with upping just their protein blocks to help repair an injury? I recently injured my shoulder, I think a subluxation, and got the advice to eat tons of protein to help repair it (kettlebell work will be my focus after hearing Jeff Martone's history). It makes sense to me but in the effort to use repeatable data to verify, I thought this would be a great place to ask the question. Any comments are appreciated as I work towards doing the WOD's as rx'd again. Thanks


wrote …

Kelly #47, Tony #43, Pat #44
I have no idea if I can come up with a program that makes more sense than CF and that's not what I was getting at in my posts. It is not my contention that there is anything drastically wrong with CF's model in terms of the exercise regimen. Most of what is presented here in terms of exercise falls in line with my own studies prior to being shown CF by some training friends of mine. What I'm harping on is the food quality that is being presented here. I would elaborate here but my sentiments have been stated by other posters - #41/54 Mike, #51 Patrick, #52 Matt, #58 Cam.

Tony, I think you said something in the end of your response about 'not sweating the small stuff'. What I'm saying is that the small stuff may contribute, or rather diminish long term health. Under the CF model health is fitness maintained over a lifespan. What I'm saying is that there is a missing component to what CF is defining as health. If I get cancer in my mid 50's because I ingested to much MSG, hydrogenated vegetable oil, or aspartate over my life, then my level of fitness doesn't really matter, my health just went down the tubes.

On another note, I was surprised and very put off by your initial comments to me. If I personally offended you with any of my prior statements then I apologize, but calling me careless, baised, and stupid was unnecessary. I assure you I am none of those things. When I post to this site I usually do it to offer a critique and/or an alternate point of view. Do I get fired up about it - absolutely, but I don't personally assault people on the board. If anything I would think that people questioning the CF model would be welcome. Isn't that how CF started? - Someone questioned the validity of an exercise protocol and came up with a better model.

Pat, I understand that the Zone gives you a metric for measuring what amounts to fuel intake and that it's a necessary component of tracking progress under the CF model, again I'm not saying otherwise. My argument here is best summarized by the last paragraph of Cam's (#58) post. I know that 99% of the time you and probably most of the rest of the CF elite are dialed in under your dietary model. But for the average person coming to the Journal this video will probably leave them with some impression that it's ok to eat junk as long as they workout, which is part of the toxic attitude I had previously referred to.

The other part of this attitude to which I had previously referred is that it seems like CF is simply shifting the domain of people's attitude towards fitness from a bodybuilding/aerobic one to that of GPP, but it's not changing it in a fundamental way. Tony brought this up in his response, but I think he missed what I was getting at. I am not arguing that CF hasn't introduced a new way of thinking about fitness and measuring it in a quantifiable way, clearly it has. My argument was of a more fundamental nature in terms of people's mentality. Because CF is a performance based culture, the fundamental ideological paradigm really isn't any different than that of the bodybuilding culture. My argument is that CF should be a tool to help people focus on their long-term health and not be used as a measuring stick against the guy next to you. In general, people compete so that they can say that they're better than someone else, not so that they can learn something about themselves, or make themselves a better person. From my experience this has been the prevailing attitude among Americans and I think it's something that needs to change. I think CF could help do that, but it's not there yet and this type of video posting is a small part of that problem.

Kelly, I do not mean to be sarcastic in any way here, but if you're interested this is what I'm eating today:
7:30a - 2/3 cups rolled oats w/ ground soy beans, handful of raw walnuts, handful of blueberries,

10-10:30a - 1 banana, 1/3 cup raw cashews, 3 hard boiled eggs (2 white, 1 full)

1:30p - trout fillet (~1/4 lb), quinoa, zucchini, squash, handful of raw walnuts

4:30p - 1 pear, 1/3 cup raw almonds, 3 hard boiled eggs (2 white, 1 full)

Workout will be somewhere in here

7:30-8p - either boiled shrimp or chicken (haven't decided yet) ~1/4 lb, 1/2 tomato, 6 slices of cucumber, tsp flax seed, green bell pepper and 1/4 of an avocado.

I'll probably have a couple of tablespoons of homemade peanut butter of almond butter before bed around 11:00p

Cameron Day
UT-Southwestern Medical Center
Dallas, TX


replied to comment from PJ Menagh

the fat adapted athlete with burn relatively more fat at any given work output than a non-fat adapted athlete. this spares muscle glycogen and saves it for explosive, sprint type activities.


wrote …

There is alot of great information and debating going on here. It's refreshing to see that people have a deep interest in their nutrition because it's amazing how many people have no clue that special K won't in fact make you special.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the intent of this video series to show how Pat eats and why he makes those choices? Obviously if he could be carrying around perfectly portioned zoned meals like in the video at home, he would. But after a cert. on an army base, what are you going to do? Not eat because you can't get a scale and measuring cups to see how much oil and meat are being grilled? I don't think that any of us would do that. This video, like the one showing the breakfast at the Marriot and TGIFridays meal, shows how to make smarter choices when you can't get the exact things you would like to have. That's called life. I prepare all my meals on the weekend and have everything ready for me, but that's because I have the luxury of going to the same job, having the same time breaks during the day to eat and can have the meals as I want. We all know that life isn't always that consistent and these videos are great tools showing how to take an unfavorable situation and turn it into something that's not so bad.

Cameron, I have to harp on your last comment. The things you are saying I do not necessarily agree with but those are your opinions. However there is one thing..."In general, people compete so that they can say that they're better than someone else, not so that they can learn something about themselves, or make themselves a better person." I think that is complete BS. I compete because I do want to learn how far I can push my body. Of course when you do beat someone its gratifying but that's not the reason that I chose to CF. If I was the only client at my affiliate, I'd be there every day. Competing against myself. Constantly. It's not that I want to beat you, its that I want to PUSH you to beat me! It is a delicate balance between just wanting to beat someone and wanting to improve yourself and the people around you. And through competition I believe that you do become a better person. If you are beaten, how do you react? Are you a soar loser? Do you whine and bitch about the conditions or how you slipped or whatever it may be? Or do you shake the winners hand, give them a high five, tell them awesome job you were kicking ass and congratulate them on their accomplishment? The same goes for when you win...
Competition is living. You compete in life. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be better then the next person, but that's not what it's all about.


replied to comment from Robert Wolf

I'm going to be all over your shit because I'm one of those Pseudo-Scientific paleo nut-cases and you are eating stuff like quinoa and rolled oats.

God-Bless some of you folks who know the difference between Ketosis and keto-acidosis. Nick, ask your wife if she knows the difference. Ask her professors. No one knows the difference seemingly except the folks who tinker with these carb restricted diet. Nick, ask yoour wife why Stanford University has run a Ketogenic Diet treatment ward for almost 100 years for the treatment of epilepsy and why that is still the best treatment for epilipsy known?

Ask her to comment on why ketogenic diets are being used successfully to treat brain tumors and traumatic brain injury:

Finally, why are she and her professors not familiar with the vast historical record of ketogenic diets in population like the inuit?

I'm going to take you to task on a few things.

This whole paleo/no paleo gig boils down to a simple question: Does food quality matter, yes or no? If it's no, then beer, peanuts and jerky will work just as well as salmon, broccoli and almonds, right? Well obviously this is not the case...but so to is the case that a 100% austere diet is completely necessary for optimum health and performance as mister Cameron seems to be what gives? When DOES food quality matter? It would appear it matters when we see retrograde performance or health. Not unlike work capacity, this appears to be a subtlety that requires some thought and consideration. Group Think is a fan of neither thought nor consideration.

So, it's safe to say that food quality matters, and it may matter more for one person than another. We have all known people who have remarkable gym numbers but ate like shit...which brings us to our next issue, the top games finishers you cited. Two frequently cited doctrines from HQ need a look. the first is "no athlete reaches the top of performance without weighing and measuring". The second is "paleo foods are unnecessary for top level performance". When we take this apart, we have the absolute of "without weighing and measuring there is no top performance" when in fact several people do not, did not weigh and measure. In Jeff Glassman's piece on science, we just need one data point which contradicts a hypothesis to make it invalid. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd place male finishers did not WAM. So...WAMing...waste of time? Absolutely NOT, but here is our first opportunity for some actual DATA. You said that we have some "statistical significance" with regards to how the top finisher were eating...paleo or not paleo. WE DO NOT. We have a survey, the lowest form of science. We now have an opportunity to ask a question, tweak some parameters, collect data, TEST for statistical significance...and perhaps really know something.

Now, to the topic of might be interesting if we had...oh, I don't know...perhaps a pool of top level athletes who were eating a standard Zone (good quality, but not paleo) who shifted from Zone to Paleo/Zone...and that these folks saw IMPROVEMENTS in their performance. Interestingly, we have just that:

That is one thread of many in which people shifted from Zone to paleo/zone (as shift towards food quality) and they saw improved performance.

If it does not matter so much what the top finishers DID (non WAM) but what happens when we change a parameter and test for outcome.

So, if HQ is interested in removing the opinions on this, lets have the HQ staff and a group of good athletes switch from standard Zone to a paleo/zone approach. No more opinion, just statistically significant data.


wrote …

#64, Mat

You are pretty much on the money with the intent of the video series. Walking around Whole Foods and finding beautiful food choices is astoundingly easy. Someone could do that in their sleep. I enjoy showing people what can be done given the choices at hand in far less than ideal scenarios. I'm glad that you understand our purpose. Sometimes no matter how often or how many different ways I try to state it, it seems lost on some folks.

Alright, I'm off to hit the's gonna hurt.



wrote …

Hey guys, I think one of my posts is caught in the either.


replied to comment from Robert Wolf

Hi Robert,

I just have a couple of comments/questions about your last post. My understanding is that true explosive efforts are actually not reliant on muscle glycogen but rather on the ATP/CP system. Anaerobic lactic work is reliant on muscle glycogen. I think in discussions like this, we have to be as virtuous with our terminology as we are with technique in our workouts.

You mentioned a fat-adapted athlete being more reliant on fat for fuel at a given intensity. How would you explain this - have you looked at studies that measure RER/RR with different diet compositions? I am not doubting that a shift occurs, just wondering to what extent.

My understanding also is that there cannot be activation of the aerobic oxidative pathway without involvement of the glycolytic, so really does your above comment only refer to steady states of exercise?


replied to comment from Tony Budding

Hi Tony,

I see what you're saying about the micronutrients not being important as they seem to be unrelated to exercise performance (in your experience). I suppose my concern is (to echo a prior poster) that fitness cannot exist without health and that the adverse health effects of artificial food additives, sweeteners, altered fats etc could well directly contribute to a loss of health.

Definitely across the time domain of age I believe it is worthwhile to consider the implications of micronutrients and the actual composition of the macronutrients in one's diet to ensure optimal health - thereby creating an optimal platform from which to develop fitness both in the short and long terms.

I appreciate the observations you have made with the CF athletes at the games regarding their dietary habits. To provide an opposing viewpoint, I personally know and worked with 13 athletes who attended the Beijing Olympics (11 of whom medaled) and I can equally vouch for their adherence to a very clean eating approach with the exception of two individuals. 12 of those athletes were in very metabolically demanding sports. So in my experience, the very best athletes that I know in very established and competitive sports, adhere to both macronutrient and micronutrient management. Granted these are full time athletes, but if there was a better way to go than "eating clean" then they would be doing it!


replied to comment from Pat Sherwood


It's just as easy to pick lovely zone friendly items Whole Foods as it is ordering off a menu in a fast food restaurant, in fact, I think we both know which is easier.....They weren't even making the best out of the situation, i mean come on? an 80oz. diet coke?

I'm not trying to be stubborn and condescending, I just think there is GIANT room for improvement.

Why not make a video on how EASY it is to pack a healthy lunch?....Or to even to stop by whole foods when you get to a weekend cert and make a weekend meal plan? It's not that hard, even in different countries. I know it because I've been in that situation countless times, no car, new city, little time, and I still manage to get 'elite level food'

I think these are the logistical issues that will help people.....Don't you agree?

Eating at the fast food place would mean completely throwing in the towel for me....



wrote …

Pat Great video

My 2 cents about bacon

The only thing that should scare you about bacon is cooking it in the nude.


replied to comment from Cam Birtwell

I get 400-600 emails per day, run a gym and a busy blog...I try to be accurate but concise.

Studies showing this fat adaptation are easy to track-down:

I'll leave it up to you to track down more.

I'm totally unclear what you are saying in the last piece...all of the metabolic engines tend to fire all the time TO SOME EXTENT. Do we tap into ATP/CP sitting on the couch? No, but getting up off the couch we tap in a tiny bit. the extent to which various engines are called upon is dependent upon the genetics, training and current activity of an individual. This BTW is where coaching trumps science...I can know some generalities like those mentioned above but it will do nothing for me compared to tinkering with the macronutrient ratios of our athletes and seeing how they perform. This is where you take off the lab coat and put on the whistle.


wrote …

Regarding bacon,

Frying of animal fat increases levels of known carcinogens (google scholar search bacon and haa). This issue is compounded when the meat is treated prior to cooking with nitrites. The higher the fat content of the meat being fried, the more carcinogens are produced. Bacon is typically fried and typically has a high fat content. That's enough info for me to make the decision to put bacon on my unhealthy list.


replied to comment from Cam Birtwell

You eat whatever you want to brother, but you are painting a narrow picture and inaccurate picture. How about all the KNOWN CARCINOGENS IN plants:

Bruce Ames, the father of modern toxicology has been studying this topic for several decades. Should one eat deep fried foods every day, for every meal? No, but this blanket statement, 101 level of information is trying.

I'll tunr the tables on you:
Cam, pleas comment on the following:
Given the greatly reduced propensity for Mono-unsaturated fats to oxidize and create reactive oxygen species (ROS), and the fact that coconut oil (a fully saturated fat) creates no ROS as contrasted by the extremely high ROS formations of polly unsaturated fats would you recommend we cook with olive oil, coconut oil or canola oil? Also, when you were hammering me about being precise above, you lumped ALL fats in the category of being easily oxidized when this is not the case at all and is rather a broad generalization.

Issue 2-
given that there are ubiquitous natural toxicants/carcinogens in plants (see the attached work from Bruce Ames) how can one justify the consumption of fruits and vegetables?


replied to comment from Robert Wolf

Hi Robert,

Please understand that I am not personally attacking you or your beliefs or dietary system, I'm simply trying to share what I have learned myself through evaluation of the facts presented to me. I believe that I know a more healthful way to eat than what has been presented here and I understand that other people will have different perspectives.

Coconut oil is prefered to the olive oil and canola oil you mention above. It is my understanding that olive oil should not be used to cook with and canola oil (rapeseed actually, canola is a coined term) appears to be one of the worst. What do you think?

I know you are busy and I don't expect that my posts are read that accurately but I didn't lump all fats in together, just animal fats.

One can justify the ingestion of plants and fruits simply due to the fact that their benefits far outweigh their dangers (IMHO) and that we are not increasing their toxic content through preparation methods/treatment methods. The benefits of meat are also many however bacon is just not a good choice using the typical preparation method. I eat meat by the way so not actively hating on it :).


wrote …

I gotcha Cam, i'm just making the point that broad generalizations can be made that, with a little tinkering start to look shaky. I'm also going to make the point that you conceded olive oil and coconut oil are the preferred oils to cook with...well bacon is predominately mono-unsaturated (oleic acid, just like olive oil), some saturated (a mice of palmetic, steric and a little lauric, coconut is mainly lauric) and just a bit of polly. When one really looks at the chemistry here we are talking about high temperature cooking combined with high polly-vegetable oils that produces the ROS's. If you are ok with olive and coconut oil you should be ok with the bacon because it's pretty damn close to the same thing.


wrote …

I can't get enough of the chronicles. Keep it up!!


wrote …

Robb, when cooking, which is more preferred, refined olive oil or extra virgin olive oil? Thanks for the posts. In just a few days I've learned much from reading them. Also, do you really need to eat a snack before going to bed like Dr. Sears advocates? It seems some people don't do this. I'm just wondering


wrote …

Robb's post #65 got held up for some reason. I just found it and published it. If you're following the thread, go back because it popped up out of order.

In that post, Robb takes me to task. He offers data points that are contrary to my data points. He is convinced food quality does matter. I'm unconvinced up to a point (meaning I believe it matters up to a point, but that point may be as low as 50-60% of the time). I have anecdotal evidence. Robb has anecdotal evidence.

But, there are two really good things about this. One, we're talking about real results. Over time, we'll have more results and more data. I have no stake in the game. I just refuse to allow evidence-free assertions to go unchallenged. When I see enough athletes outperform based on quality improvements, I'll be shouting it from every corner.

The other good thing is that if you believe food quality matters, then eat what you consider high quality food. No drama.

Cameron #62,
My comments about your bias or whatever were from your comment that we're saying eat whatever you want. We're not saying that at all, so I was speculating about how you came to that conclusion. No worries and no offense.

Your point about being fit then getting cancer because of MSG is a HUGE leap. First of all, we're in complete agreement that getting cancer is a major impediment to health in every regard, including in our definition of work capacity. Secondly, if MSG caused cancer then everyone who ate would have it. These correlations are spurious at best.

There is so much microanalysis and speculation happening in this thread. I still contend that it's a waste of time because the great majority of the folks I've ever encountered still don't have the macro picture perfectly aligned. I'm just not seeing it. It's much like folks who stress over the differences between kipping pullups and butterfly pullups, or whether or not to swing your arms on high rep situps. Missing the forest for the trees. This is totally my opinion, but I've been looking hard for a long time, and I still don't see any reason to sweat the small stuff.


replied to comment from Cameron Day

When you are home and doing your routine it's easy to stick to a solid diet and weighing and measuring. Pat states that he does this also when he is home. That's not hard. I would think it would be hard not to appreciate the Zone Chronicles that shows Pat's choice when he is on the road 3 or 4 days a week. Do you have a job that makes you travel like that? Or say you have a family emergency and have to leave town without notice...What do you do in cases like that when it comes to food? If you still have picture perfect choices and weigh and measure then to you I would say there is more to life than that kind of perfection.


wrote …

Thanks for tracking that down and you are right...too much analysis, not enough action. good discussion either way and that's worth something.

Roll with whatever virginity you can find;0)


wrote …

What a great thread! I'm totally digging this guys/gals, get some. Maybe I'm just a nerd but to me this is the meat and potatoes that really get me excited about CrossFit as a scientifically driven community. Good Stuff!


wrote …

Hey Robb and Pat,
I am a strict paleo and have talked to you before about this over the message baord. I run a garage gym affiliate out here in mass and I am puttin my people on a paleo form of diet with a little zone. They have seen amazing results over the last month, thanks to your input and Dr. Cordaine. I just finished again reading the Paleo for athletes and got some more good information. However, I myself follow Paleo about 90-95 percent of the time. I stay completely away from grains and dairy, however, I do eat peanut butter with my almonds, all natural. I figured if this is my only vice, then why not? What are your takes on this? I see peanut butter as a better alternative for some things because I am a endurance runner and like to keep my fat blocks relatively high with my protein as well. Thanks Robb and Pat!!

Hey Pat,
I was the guys from the cert in Jersey in February who was from the same area as you and knew the high school that you went to!! Your a great guy and great provider fo information


wrote …

Hi Robb,

I'm glad your post (#65) came up - I like your comments regarding the food choice issue and especially the "taking to task" of HQ on the issue of mixed messages.

As to the cooking with oils, I actually try to limit any cooking with oil and I never use olive oil to cook with - I thought it was best when unheated? My personal feeling from the information I have read (which is admittedly not as broad in scope as most who are in the nutrition business, but definitely more than the average fitness enthusiast) is that the frying of foods, especially certain types of animal fat is not a healthful option. Boiling and other wet cooking methods can be spiced up to the point where they provide quite tasty and tender meats so I am switching to these methods whenever possible.

Thanks for your continued input to the thread.


replied to comment from kevin omalley

Looks solid to me. All I do is get folks to try this stuff. If it's legit they will look, feel and perform better. If it's bull-shit, they won't. No religion, no belief systems...just getting in and tinkering. ALSO, with a little understanding of how all this stuff works we can tailor nutrition to suit the needs of the INDIVDUALS coming into our gym. A huge reason for the growth and success of CrossFit NorCal is that we are very good at the nutrition side of the equation. We do not approach this as a one-size-fits-all problem and simply shuffle the folks for whom the basic Zone is not a good fit to the periphery. We start with food quality (Paleo) and for the vast majority of our folks, this is as far as we run things. For a few we bring in the accuracy and precision of the Zone.

How has this worked?

We have an MMA "world champion" in Glen Cordoza. This is from a B-level league but a great accomplishment non the less. Glen will be competing in the Grapplers Quest in July and will make the step up to A-level competition soon.

A champion in Canadian MotoCross in Eic Nye. Again, at a B-level but Eric has been setting the A-level circuit on fire and is in good position for top 10 this next go-around.

4 people going to World Championships in Triathlon. 2 Will win age group, the other 2 will place top 5.

Unfortunately we did not qualify anyone for the Games. I think we will have a very solid Affiliate Cup team, but since we will not place someone in the Top 5 this year non of our other accomplishments will matter...

We have grown more in the last year than we did in the previous 4 years combined. Why? because or program is fun, safe and GETS RESULTS above and beyond anything else in our area. Less than 5% of our folks, including the ones listed as top level athletes, use a WAM Zone. Why? I do not find it necessary for the vast majority of our folks. When and where it's appropriate, I do it. Certain hours we literally have no where else to put people and we just moved into a 6,000 sqft facility last august. We will be at max capacity before the year is out. My point here is that we are doing SOMETHING right. I'm NOT saying we have it all figured out, but we worked both angles, first pushing hard for everyone to do a WAM Zone and our success was not what it is now with the focus on food quality (Paleo). I find it humorous when people who have NEVER run an affiliate, never grown it up from nothing, never bought a house, cars and planned retirement from the gym they have built, have some kind of strong FEELINGS about how best to run the nutrition program in a gym.

Other examples I can cite are the Paleo vs Zone competition up in Vancouver (Paleo won) and the switch from Zone to Paleo at Petranek Fitness after John Welbourn gave a Paleo talk there a few months ago. I also have the hundreds of trainers and affiliate owners who have attended my cert who report "Paleo appears to be easier to implement and gets our clients quicker, better results than when we were pushing the Zone primarily..." perhaps a CFJ piece on my email comments would be of value to clarify this issue.

Sorry for the Long scree, but I REALLY want to bring some clarity to this topic. Food quality matters, it matters varying amounts from person to person. it matters both with regards to athleticism and being successful in business. and you know what? It's as simple as "Try it...see how it goes". The funny thing is there are people who refuse to try it, yet still make bold sweeping statements on the topic.

This sounds eerily similar to when newbies show up on the comments section of the WOD and insist the programming can not work as claimed...without ever trying the programming. so, like I said, this is not religion, just something to try and see how it goes.


wrote …

Hey Robb,
It's Kevin again thanks for your quick response and great information. It is amazing to see your dedication to answering all these questions... Would love to go to your cert in Boston, but im on the waiting list as of right now, kind of sucks.. Thanks for your input and I will try to possibly cut out the all natural peanut butter out of my regiment, but like I said if that is my vice, then I might possibly live with it. Thanks alot Robb and I hope to get taken off that waiting list

Vagabond CrossFit


wrote …

We're starting to go round and round, but you've really missed the point here. The purpose of these videos is to show the real world habits of athletes who are performing at the highest levels of fitness we've ever seen. You say you don't want to be average, but you're not talking about work output. You're talking about food input. So now we have Cam's path to elite food intake. Woohoo!

Work capacity across broad time and modal domains is fitness. Nutrition is only valuable in the degree to which it supports fitness, which sustained throughout life is health.

Nutrition is not quantifiable by itself. And it doesn't matter by itself. We see elite performance achieved by some folks who eat bacon, fry with olive oil, and even drink diet soda (as a portion of their intake). We also see a lot of claims about nutrition by folks who have neither elite performance themselves nor trained any athletes to elite levels. I find the approach of the elite athletes and elite coaches much more compelling, and we see quite varied diets among the elite.

And we've seen lots of claims about longevity and disease. These are much like religion and God. Can't be proved correct, can't be proved incorrect. So what to do? Keep it personal until you have reliable data. If you believe a food is healthy, eat it. If you think it doesn't matter, eat appropriately.

If and when we see all the top athletes eating a narrow section of foods, or see obviously better results from that subsection of foods, we'll promote that narrow approach. But as long as there are lots of folks making great gains, achieving elite levels of fitness, and living long high quality lives without micromanaging their diets, I will promote that here in the Journal.


wrote …

I got ya Cam. Your Goal is about what's best for you, or said another way, it's ALL about you. My goal (and I think Tony would agree with this as his goal also) is to help as many people as possible. When you actually do this stuff for a living, have devoted better than 10 years doing it, get back to me on how a high-minded an approach works.


wrote …

Hey Tony and Rob,

I guess in one way it comes down to your observations versus mine. As I mentioned before, I know and have been involved with very successful athletes in the HIGHEST level of competitive sport (Olympics, which for many sports the world over is the biggest stage). Refer to my post above wherein the vast majority of these athletes adhere to a diet consisting of "clean" foods. I don't know the top Crossfit Games competitors so maybe a zone approach with less focus on food choice is appropriate for success at that level. I will be quite honest and state that the fittest people in the world (any definition that one may choose for fitness) are not yet attending the CF games, and probably never will due to the fact that they are in other sports. I would say that the CF games represent the "best of the rest" in which individuals can get away with lower food quality.

I don't want this to become a flame war, I just wanted to indicate that perhaps at the level of the Games, adherence to a "clean" diet is not as important as simply being better than the other competitors. Once people close to the very best arrive and there is very little room for error, I see food choice rising to the top in terms of importance in separating performances that win from those who come a very close second.

Rob, fair enough, works for me, works for Olympians, isn't appropriate for everyday people. That being said, I will continue to inform my clients to the best of my ability that natural choice foods and focusing on certain cooking methods are most likely going to lead to the best health and therefore the best platform for physical development. I like 90/10 as opposed to 80/20 but that is just splitting hairs. I'm sure you have had wonderful success with your nutrition plans and I hope that continues in the future.

Tony, I have a couple of studies indicating consumption of processed meats leads to increased risk of several nasty diseases. I found these with about 5 minutes of searching and could find many more I am sure. I appreciate your stance about needing proof but I could take the other side and say where is the proof that these things don't hurt someone's health? If we are talking about food additives that are engineered substances that the body cannot recognize or metabolize, I would definitely like to take the safer road and avoid them. There have been many retrospective recalls of pharmaceuticals and additives that people consumed thinking them to be safe only to have health implications down the road.

lunch meat: where on the animal did it come from? what binders and fillers are used to keep it together, what preservatives are added, what colors are added?

I don't know the answer to those questions and therefore I don't eat lunch meat (one example).

Thanks for the food for thought ha ;)


wrote …

Tony, your view on nutrition seems to be different from that spread by CF in the past. Glassman's and Nicole Carroll's videos and articles make it seem that good nutrition is paramount. It is the base of the athletic (or performance) pyramid. They talk about WAM zoning. In one of the videos, Coach is asked if WAM will take your fitness to the next level, and his response was (I'm paraphrasing from memory) "No, but you won't get there without it". He specifically mentions that Greg A jumped ahead of his workout pack. Was my earlier interpretation of CF's view on nutrition wrong? Is yours different from theirs? Has theirs changed?

Further, how can you stand by this comment: "if MSG caused cancer then everyone who ate would have it. These correlations are spurious at best." Do you believe that smoking doesn't cause lung cancer because a few old guys smoked two packs a day until they were 97? And sunlight doesn't cause skin cancer because you've been outside? Don't rant about science and reliable data if you are going to say that. It makes me not believe you; the same way you don't believe people 'who have neither elite performance themselves nor trained any athletes to elite levels'.


wrote …

I've been doing some research on the habits of elite athletes and it runs the gamut...some weighing and measuring, some voodoo like practices...some seriously shitty eating that still seems to power performance. One commonality I do hear is a notion that solid quality of food SEEMS to extend one's productive years. Very touchy-feely and unscientific, but fairly solid info. Cam, I would however be very reticent to drag out studies like the above you mentioned. All of those "meat is bad" studies of late do not distinguish between meat ON pizza and the REST of the pizza. That is not science it is something to line the bottom of a bird-cage.

One point to Make: Unlike religious claims, one can simply TRY a given nutritional protocol see what the results are. This is no different than the basic tenants of crossfit and the WOD: Quantifiable, observable, repeatable. What is intriguing to me is that HQ finds this proposition somehow pseudo-science. For a quick reference of the concept look here:

Of particular import is this line:
"Pseudoscience has been characterized by the use of vague, exaggerated or untestable claims, over-reliance on confirmation rather than refutation, lack of openness to testing by other experts, and a lack of progress in theory development."

I'd like to know PRECISELY how the paleo concept fits the above when the "sales pitch" is "try it...see how it goes". Based on the thousands of comments on my blog, in the CrossFit message board and elsewhere, when people make a shift towards food quality they see improved performance. This is the point i made above and I do not want it lost: It does not WHAT people are doing, it matters what happened when things were CHANGED. Remember the girl who trained in Santa Cruz for the US ski team? I forget her name...but she blew all of her PR's out of the water yet her coach said she should ask for a refund because you guys had her doing kipping pull-ups...the guy was CERTAIN he was right! He works EVERY DAY with ELITE athletes! And he feeds his athletes a protein deficient diet and had no ideas of functional movements, intensity or work capacity. And despite sending a data set of N=1 across his door, talking to him on the phone and internet he just never got it...

I'm not sure if the following buys me into the level of "Elite Performance":
CA State Power Lifting Champion: 565-SQT, 345-bench, 565-DL
6-0 Amateru Kick-boxer
2:58 Fran
3:04 Diane
275 Clean & Jerk
17 rounds of Mary

Or if coaching 4 people to world championships constitutes coaching people to Elite Levels (surely we are not claiming the ONLY elite athletes are competitive CrossFit Athletes?)...but if that is the case, and I'm a weak performer, working with "the little people"...I guess I can live with that ;0)


wrote …

You are right BTW, we have not begun to see the fittest. If you look at who is winning these events their fitness, often as not, is forged in the professional sporting arena. With a tune-up they then dominate the CF world.


replied to comment from Matt Solomon

I think you've misunderstood what I've meant. I consider WAM Zoning to be a form of macro-managing your diet, and I am a huge proponent of macromanaging diet for performance. In fact, I don't think elite performance is possible without macromanaging your diet (there are exceptions of course, but not many). Pat Sherwood, Speal, Khalipa, Barber, etc. all macromanage their diet, but none of them micromanage. The biggest component of macromanaging is avoiding hyperinsulinemia. Micromanaging as a policy doesn't seem to be necessary.

Now, that being said, I have no objection to folks tweaking their own diet. If you think milk makes you strong, go for it. If you think dairy slows you down, avoid it. If you want to eat organic foods, great. If you think the extra cost is unnecessary, avoid them. And Robb, I can't tell if you're talking to me when you defend Paleo as an option. I have NO issue whatsoever with folks taking individual approaches. And I believe that individual approaches can work extremely well for certain individuals.

What I do object to are the claims that elite performance REQUIRES a certain micro-approach, or that EVERYONE has to eat a certain way.

Matt, you also misunderstood my point about cancer (or at least misrepresented it). What I object to in the statement MSG causes cancer is actually identical to the problem with sunlight causes skin cancer and smoking causes lung cancer. Sunlight is the best example because it's known that a little sunlight is highly beneficial. I have no doubt that some percentage of the people who have excessive exposure to the sun get skin cancer. I wouldn't be surprised if some folks who eat excessive quantities of MSG have gotten cancer. But I don't live in a chicken-little world. I don't believe that going to the beach means you're going to get cancer or that having the occasional meal containing MSG is going to give you cancer.

For what it's worth, I think health and disease are more complex than simple cause and effect. I don't even believe that sunlight causes cancer because lots of people who spend a lot of time in the sun for their whole lives don't get cancer. Does it increase your risk for it? That seems to be well established. Can you see the difference?

And finally, Robb, I have no idea what you mean by HQ saying trying a diet is pseudo-science. That makes no sense to me. I know there are lots of athletes who achieve great success with clean foods, paleo foods, dairy-free, etc. I think the only thing I've heard called pseudo-science are claims that these choices are NECESSARY for optimizing results.


wrote …

WOW. I left the thread for a few days and it got even more intense.

It's very interesting to read through in it's entirety (although a little circular) but thanks to everybody for contributing their opinions.

In summary, it seems as if there are three camps.

Robb's camp believes in the efficacy and health of a paleo diet as a primary goal and then a secondary advanced goal of a zone consistent paleo diet. Robb believes in a relatively balanced and non obsessive approach where occasional 'lapses' are no big deal so long as the cruve is being followed. Hence ZOne Chronicles are an acceptable video series.

Tony's camp believes primarily in the efficacy and health of the zone and while not dismissing paleo as a healthy and effective way of following the zone believes it's relationship to increased performance and health is unproven. Zone Chronicales are absolutely fine.

Cam's camp believes that for optimum health and performance and a stricter adherence to both paleo and zone are necessary and with this pov, Zone Chronicles are unhelpful to be posted as information on the nutrition section of a fitness site.

Am I there?

Lastly, all three of you work with Elite athletes who follow a variety of diet philosophies and practices. It seems as if all are having success.

This is the interesting part for me. As several of you rightly point out. Until we get more rigorous comparable science as opposed to (admittedly in depth) anecdotcal evidence, this will all remain somewhat up in the air.

Me? I'm 5 days into the Zone. My goal is to do it completely paleo during the week and then broader on weekends. To be honest, I've lapsed a few times and twice have had turkey, salad and avocado sandwiches for lunch when in a hurry and out of the office. Yum. So I guess I'm sitting somewhere between Rob and Tony. If I can stay there I'll be very happy and proud.

I've lost a kilo in 5 days - was only 12% BF when I started so this is pretty good tea with half a spoon of sugar tasted disgustingly sweet this morning.

Progress is being made. Thanks from me at least for all of the great info and advice given out

love Nick


replied to comment from Nick Williams

I'd make one amendment to your summary of my position. I have no doubt that following a paleo-zone approach works. I have no doubt that eating paleo unconstrained (ie not in a Zone ratio) is better than completely unconstrained. I also have no doubt that macromanaging diet is essential for health and fitness.

What I am completely unconvinced of is that micromanaging food choices is better for everyone. Dairy vs no dairy, gluten vs no gluten, processed vs natural, standard vs organic. I've seen too many folks of all skill levels, including the most elite, achieve too much success on both sides of the fence to draw any firm conclusions. I think personal taste and personal desires and circumstances play a factor.

I also believe that a lot of these nutrition debates miss the forest for the trees. Almost without exception, everyone I know who has eaten reasonably well and trained reasonably hard (with functional movements) for an extended period of time has been exceptionally fit and healthy by normal standards. And, I don't see any evidence to suggest that folks who micromanage their diets get better results than folks who macromanage their diets. And, for what it's worth, I'd even go so far as to postulate that folks who micromanage their diets and get all worked up over each component of their diet even underperform relative to folks who just macromanage, but that's just a vague observation that I wouldn't defend if pressed.

Eat the foods you love and that work well for you in managed quantities, train as hard as you can without overdoing it, live with integrity, and have a good life.


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thanks Tony. I think I'm in your camp to be honest.

I don't have the science to fall back on but from a personal perspective, I just don't think I have the psychological make up to go super strict the whole time. Some people work better with strict rules and very heavily controlled diets and lifestyles and other people don't. You have to work with what works for you.

To draw a business world analogy, I run a corporate headhunting firm. The people running major companies and divisions have a startlingly similar macro approach - hard work (all early risers interestingly), think strategically, strong intellect, good listeners, huge quantities of passion & drive, normally great with people.

But on a microlevel, they go about their job in very different ways focusing on different things, acting in very different ways, valuing different approaches.

None really are right or wrong and even looking at results such as profit or growth only tell a little of the picture because of the different circumstances people find themselves in. It's just what works for them in the situation they're in

either way, good luck with it all!


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Not sure if your are still monitoring this post but back in posts 23 and 29, I asked you about increasing my fat intake. You suggested that I half my carbs and replace with 3 fats. I did that and am now on a 4P-2C-10F block load. I have been doing it for ten days now and while I have lost 3 pounds in ten days and slimmed out a bit more, my workouts have tanked. Usually I am one of the top performers in my group but over the last week, I have fallen to the bottom, if not the very bottom, of the pack. My trainer even questioned if something was wrong as she noticed a dramatic drop in my performance. My eating has been strict to this 4-2-10 system. What might the deal be? Is this just maybe not for me? What would you further suggest, maybe only cut one carb, 4-3-7? Using the Crossfit theory that I care more about performance than appearance, I am going to go back to 4-4-4 because that is where I was performing at my best for now. Any further info you could suggest would me greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time!


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Pat, I think I found your perfect "on the road snack". Its totally Paleo, no carbs, and I promise, I won't judge.

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