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A Competitor’s Zone Prescription by Matt Chan - CrossFit Journal

In Coaching, CrossFit, HD Videos, Nutrition

November 22, 2012

Video Article

Matt Chan explains how to create a baseline Zone Diet plan for competitive athletes and how to intelligently deviate from it in this video shot at a CrossFit Competitor’s Course at CrossFit Park City.

Only 10 percent of CrossFit Games athletes say they weigh and measure their food, Chan notes in Part 1.

“Now you may say, ‘Oh, I guess that’s not important.’ But in my opinion what that says to me is that 90 percent of the Games athletes can improve,” says the Level 1 Seminar Staff member who finished second at this year’s CrossFit Games.

In Part 2, Chan explains how athletes might deviate from the baseline prescription to achieve specific goals, such as gaining weight.

But he warns, “There really is no healthy way to overfeed an organism long term.”

In Part 3, Chan talks about a Zone plan for someone who instead wants to lose body fat.

It comes with a similar warning: “There is no healthy way to underfeed an organism.”

Chan adds: “If you have trained yourself—just like you would throw three workouts at a day, trying all sorts of different combinations of workouts—we’re going to train ourselves to eat this stuff and see what works best for us.”

To register for a CrossFit Competitor’s Course, visit

Part 1: 9min 1sec
HD file size: 198 MB
SD wmv file size: 108 MB
SD mov file size: 54 MB

Part 2: 8min 7sec
HD file size: 199 MB
SD wmv file size: 97 MB
SD mov file size: 51 MB

Part 3: 11min 36sec
HD file size: 253 MB
SD wmv file size: 139 MB
SD mov file size: 63 MB

Please note: For smoother viewing of HD videos, please download the entire file to your hard drive before watching it (right-click and choose Save Link As...).

Additional reading: Q&A With Dr. John Berardi by Paul Southern, published June 27, 2011.

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14 Comments on “A Competitor’s Zone Prescription”


Chris Sinagoga wrote …

Great presentation Matt.

Quick question: I've been just hitting a glass of chocolate milk when I can for a post-workout "meal". Not quite the ratio you mentioned, but still helping. Anyway, where do you make up the protein and fat blocks missing in that meal? Or do you even make them up at all?


wrote …

Quick question: Why can't these be put up as a single file? I get the reason to divide it up for YouTube to make content last for longer, i.e. release one a day, but for subs of the Journal a single file would be a lot easier. (And it's like 3 minutes of work, minus rendering to do).


wrote …

Just wanted to say that this video was awesome, A lot of my questions have now been answered. Matt Chan = Hero


wrote …

Incredible video Matt! Very informative.

Question. Do you ever implement a 24 hour fast? I have from time to time, mostly for the health benefits. However, what I've noticed is a significant performance improvement following the fast for several days. I've PR'd and feel a lot stronger. Muscles feel full of glycogen and flex harder and this lasts for several days. I'm normally around 18 blocks per day. However, on the day following the fast, I increase that substantially, consuming more total blocks but most of it from fats.

I wonder if this would be a "smart" Pre competition strategy. It would definitely require some personal experimentation prior to any competition.



wrote …

In Video 2 you talk about the PWO meal and suggest to remove the Fat blocks. In Video 3 you talk about your PWO meal being 3 blocks. Would you suggest re-distributing the fat blocks to other meals to ensure you maintain the required calorie intake?

Which meal would you add these to? 1 block per main meal? or perhaps add all 3 blocks to the last meal before bed?


replied to comment from Chris Sinagoga

Chris S., you don't need to recoup the calories if you follow the 3P/4C example in the clip. The exchange for the extra block of Carb is 3F, so the two cancel out.

Joe, that's interesting stuff about performance improvement post-fasting. That's the beautiful thing about this stuff, our bodies are our labs and it simply requires a little experimenting with your diet and exercise to find combinations that lead to performance improvement. You bring up a good point, this sort of finding may work well for a single workout, but it must be tested on a multi-wod, multi-day setting before changing your game-day routine.

Ben, please see the note I dropped Chris S.

There are no rules to this thing... there are simply strategies that you can apply and tweak to favor performance. Different goals equate to varying strategies. For example, I have found what work well for me when competing in CrossFit competitions, but should I ever choose to attempt an Ironman, my strategy would change drastically.


Chris Sinagoga wrote …

Thanks for the response Matt. That makes sense. If I remember correctly, Barry Sears mentioned in his seminar on here that an ideal post-workout ratio was 3:1 carbohydrate to protein. Has that changed since then? Or are you basingthe 4:3 off something different?


wrote …

Awesome video.

I am curious to do my number and figure out the math behind all these explainations.

Any good recommendation where I could find the formula for my daily calory intake and block stuff ?


Michael Saveth wrote …

Awesome breakdown Matt!


wrote …

Thanks for the video. One thing I haven't seen addressed much with this type of diet is how the large intake of fat effects your cholesterol level, heart, arteries etc. long term. At age 39, this is something I really have to think about.


wrote …

Hi Matt, first of all, thanks for the videos.

My question is about the Gainers, you mention 4 thousand calories and 30 blocks, im trying starting out at 21-25 blocks and with 5x fat that gives me 3900 to 4300 calories. im using 3 g of fat per block for the 2x - to 5x as im taking into account that im not getting the other 1.5 half of each block from the protein blocks. But anyway. The question is, I weigh 151 pounds. Wld you still recommend I start with 30 blocks? Or would you say 21-25 blocks per day should cut it?

Thanks a lot man! I love the way you teach in the videos, very straight forward, very clear.

All the best!,

Fernando Fernandez Dosal


wrote …

Thanks for the video.

Really needed some help with the Zone diet. This vid made it easier for me.
Going to start on the BF loss with the -5 blocks Carbs a day and adding 3 blocks of fat per meal.


wrote …

Interesting video, thanks.

However, I dont see what you gain by introducing these "blocks". I always weigh every meal so at the end of the day I have a precise count of every gram of C/P/F.
I know my baseline calories and adjust the macros and/or calories to suit my goals at the time. To me thats more straight forward then lumping macros together in a block and recalculating it all...or am I missing something here?


wrote …

Great Post!!!

The Zone was the missing piece to the puzzle for me and a pinnacle discovery in my training. I started feeling better both mentally and physically, which allowed me to push harder within my training and performance, thus resulting in a leaner, stronger, happier, and fitter me!!!

My thoughts and experience on the Zone Diet below:

Take Care,


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