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Diet, Inflammation and Disease, Part 5 by Dr. Barry Sears - CrossFit Journal

In Nutrition, Videos

September 06, 2009

Video Article

Eat small meals throughout the day. Eat protein at every meal. Consume vegetables primarily. Take fish oils as a dietary supplement.

In Part 5 of this series, Dr. Barry Sears gives out basic instructions that are the keys to wellness—but don’t be fooled by the simplicity of his prescription.

The Zone Diet and supplementation with fish oils actually have profound effects on the human body at a genetic level. The food intake in Western society has changed dramatically in the last 30 years, and our genes have not been able to respond, resulting in sickness caused by inflammation. By carefully monitoring what you put in your body, you can silence the genes that cause inflammation and turn on genes that reduce it, leading to health, wellness and even athletic performance.

We’re only now beginning to understand the words Greek physician Hippocrates spoke almost 2,500 years ago:

“Let food be your medicine. Let medicine be your food.”

12min 10sec

Free Download


25 Comments on “Diet, Inflammation and Disease, Part 5”


wrote …

Thanks for doing the iPod video format, very helpful.


wrote …

Well done on the Ipod format. This is huge and very much appreciated. I love crossfit and never leave a comment. Way to be on the cutting edge.


wrote …

I think this was the best part of the lecture so far. I was already taking cod liver as a woman with dark skin whose nursed children skirted rickets during an el nino year. I no idea of the other effects. This is really important as a new crossfitter who is still losing weight while recovering from an injury and training for my first ultra. I added an extra tbsp of regular fish oil to my cod liver oil. Thank you so much for posting these lectures, they are helping a lot.

One thing I was confused about. when counting the grams I am taking. Should I be counting the total number of omega-3's or should I could the epa and dha separately until I have 3-5g of EPA


wrote …

I vote Barry Sears for President. His stuff has become a part of my everyday life. Not only have I been eating the Zone since March but I preach it to everybody I know. I just want to stand on a mountain top and shout to everybody..."Eat in the Zone and take Fish Oil". Incredible stuff, i just hope that it keeps coming. This stuff is more than just adding 15 pullups to your already total. This is stuff that could save a nation if people would just adhere. Thanks Dr. Sears and thank you CrossFit


wrote …

HUGE thanks to the CrossFit journal team for posting the Barry Sears talks for us. It has been invaluable information. Also cool to see Barry Sears is a proponent of cutting grains and other neolithic foods from the diet. Thanks again guys!


replied to comment from Maya Goode

3-5g of EPA/DHA combined -- he talked more about this is the Q&A portion of the seminar.


wrote …

Wow! One of the many things I love about Crossfit is the holistic approach to being a bad-ass. I have been focusing a lot on nutrition lately and the effects have been more profound in some ways than all the strength, met-con, skill gains I have made. I certainly wasn't able to lose my gut until I started eating right. Dr. Sears explains it all so clearly too. Thanks for yet another awesome series.


wrote …

Great article..A little on the technical side..For some reason the files take longer to download on this site..I tried both Quicktime and Windows Media and have also tried two computers..I agree..nice to see the ability to download to Iphone..I guess I am comparing it to other similar videos I view on other sites..Is it me or is anyone else experiencing this as well:)


Ned Ferguson wrote …

I am loving this series. As soon as I heard part four, I started taking 15g of fish oil a day. I was taking 15 capsules. It took me a while to realize that, to get the 15g of omega 3 acids, I need to triple my intake! Just started that yesterday. I am hoping that this will help with my chronic back pain. Can't hurt. Thanks.


wrote …

Dr. Sears suggested that there was a second part to his talk - about fitness, not merely wellness. Is that portion of his talk going to be posted to Crossfit Journal?


keith norris wrote …

Fantastic series, guys. Presenting this type of material is one reason why Crossfit is as successful as it is among the holistic-minded,physical culture enthusiasts.


wrote …

I'm curious about counterindications for consuming too high levels of fish oil. I'm aware that inhibiting blood clotting is one (hence Coach Glassman's warning to our CrossFitters in harm's way, especialy our active duty military personnel). In response to part four of Dr. Sears' presentation, I'm now taking 15 capsules of Kirkland's Fish Oil a day. Am I at 1/3 maximum dosage, at maximum or have I gone overboard in pursuit of Omega 3 in fish oil? And, what appears to be an optimal distribution of the capsules throughout the day? The daily "big gulp" approach or evenly divided among how many servings?


replied to comment from RC Secor

Oh, I hope they post the Q &A section. Counted it together it's a lot less oil than I thought. This is totally doable. Thank you


Maya, the DHA is the omega-3 usually indicated for it's anti-inflammatory properties but everything is not 100% understood, obviously. Anyway, EPA is much more easily converted into DHA than ALA since it's only a couple enzymatic steps away from DHA (molecularly/structurally much closer) so some of it will convert into DHA. I'd say try to get mostly DHA but EPA is okay. ALA supports fat metabolism, as all the omega-3s do, but is not as well indicated for being anti-inflammatory. I think his recommended dosage is just for fish oil which is going to be a mixture of EPA and DHA so total oil.


Here's an article on bleeding: Eritsland, J., et al. Long-term effects of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on haemostatic variables and bleeding episodes in patients with coronary artery disease. Blood Coagulation and Fibrinolysis, Vol. 6, 1995, pp. 17-22

They found no significant bleeding difference in their study with a fish oil supplementation of 4g per day. All the other articles I found listed insignificant bleeding time increases (i.e. one study, 12% more bleed time which was still found to be insignificant at 10-16mL of fish oil). Overall, this decrease in blood clot formation, etc., is part of how it decreases occlusions/strokes, etc. I'm not sure what effects it might have at very high dosages as I couldn't find literature exploring this question but it's regarded very safe at common daily amounts. Maybe it'd be wise to stop supplementation a week prior to surgery although they're benefits to fish oil and heart surgery, so continuing them for heart surgery might be a good thing.

Finally, the biggest concern for fish oil in terms of safety is mercury and PCB contamination.. and maybe other undiscovered nasty things. So be sure to choose high-quality oil from fish that are lower on the food chain in order to avoid biological magnification.

I'd take them spread out during the day. You're not going to try and consume your daily protein requirement for the day at one meal for the same reason why you'd probably be wasting money trying to do the same with your fish oil.


Jon Harting wrote …

I want to thank CrossFit for posting this seminar. I wanted to attend and didn't but was given a second chance here. Awesome!


wrote …

Thanks for adding the ipod/iphone download option. Greatly appreciated!


wrote …

Thanks for the excelent seminar. I have an excellent website for learning more about Omega 3 and the health benefits. The best kind of supplement to increase your Omega 3 levels. SInce we workout seriously and need to keep our inflammation to a minimum Omega 3 is a great tool for us!
To learn More about Omega 3


wrote …

Ok. I just read toxic fat. I hope some people can help me with some questions I have. 1). Where can I get this "super fish oil" Sears talks about? 2). Is the 2.5 the dosage the total capsule weight or just the fish oil derived from the omega 3s. 3). Is there anything wrong with taking the normal Target brand fish oil?
Brandon Ecker


replied to comment from Brandon Ecker

1) Sears suggested following the IFOS fish oil consumer reports... the fish oil brand the Sears Zone site sells is one of the more tested products on those reports and consistently is of highest purity. You can buy his fish oil at He said that you can test your fish oil by getting a shot glass, filling it with your fish oil, then sticking it in the freezer. After 4-5 hours, pull it out of the freezer and put a toothpick in it. If it's still liquid, you have a good fish oil... if not then you're probably taking in a lot of toxins. By the way this triggered my memory and will probably be of interest to many of you: If Sear's name doesn't appear on the product he doesn't make it... meaning those Zone bars everyone buys at the store aren't really created or approved by him. He said that he couldn't trademark the word Zone therefore anyone can slap that label on any product. If you specifically want his stuff stick to anything that says "Dr Sears' Zone" (on his website).

2)The 2.5 grams suggestion (which is assuming a near perfect diet with little toxic fat/arachidonic acid and no health issues) is total DHA + EPA - NOT total fat from or weight of your fish oil pill. And yes that can be a lot of pills... depending on what brand you're taking and the dosage you end up going with. He also said the optimal/ideal nutritional intake for DHA and EPA individually isn't known, but should be within the next few years.

3)The problem with most fish oil is that it's contaminated by mercury and there's very minimal regulation or attention to quality in the fish oil industry (outside of institutions like IFOS)... all thanks to many companies' desire to maximize profits. I don't know about Target fish oil - you can always conduct that purity test on them to determine that. I personally just take the Costco Kirkland brand (probably pretty similar if not less expensive) and I know Robb Wolf has conducted extensive tests on it and concluded it's "legit" (

Hope that helps!


wrote …

I have gone to GNC and bought the Triple Strength Fish Oil
It has 900mg of Omega 3 /capsual. That means only 3 caps get you the 2.5grams well 2700 mg
Have not done the freezer test with it yet .
The price was 17.99 / 60 softgel caps.
I am on Vancouver Island in BC Canada


wrote …

The Zone website has another set of videos oriented towards eating for athletes. It is located under the Fitness>Elite Athletes page. Covers all of the things in theCFJ lectures and quite a bit more.


wrote …

I will only refrain from saying that this video was brilliant, because I am no expert to judge. However, a question which I think is logical comes to mind - if inflammation is the culprit and we should do anything and everything to avoid it, what happens to our beloved CF workouts? Every workout that you are not accustomed to leads to a lot of inflammation (right?), as experienced during DOMS, and since we vary constantly, what happens is that we are on fire most of the time?


wrote …

An interesting study on Fish-Oil and its effects on Bronchoconstriction in Elite Athletes if anyone is interested.


wrote …

I admire Dr. Barry Sears work over the years. He perhaps more than anyone has given us the understanding of food as medicine (via hormone influences). With the US in a health care crisis that is based in part on our awful food supply, we really need to appreciate the importance of our food. I give a lot of good information, including some video's of Dr. Sears (from Youtube) on my website

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