CrossFit founder Coach Greg Glassman has gone so far as to say “There is no such thing as over training, only under eating.”
Known for memorable quotes and a contrarian bent, Glassman might be taking things a bit far. I can certainly think of a few cases of athletes over training. But it is not as common as you’d expect. What is far more common is to find that athletes are not fueling themselves sufficiently for the training they are engaged in. Symptoms of under eating include fatigue, poor muscle tone, stalled performances, injuries, slow healing, colds and flues, and stubborn belly fat. Yes, under eating can make you pudgy!
Training breaks down muscle tissue. Eating is how we get the building blocks necessary for repairing the damage. If we do not eat enough, we cannot adequately heal. The more intensely you train, the more you must eat. You need lots of protein. You needs lots of fat. And if you are an athlete and you are at your ideal weight you will also need carbs.
But this is not a license to eat just anything. Quality is as important as quantity!
For 15 years I was a vegetarian competitive athlete in a sport with weight divisions. Despite “clean” eating and 20 hours per week of training I always carried some fat and never achieved the muscle tone I have today 20 years later. And I was always injured, my injuries chronically slow to heal. I suffered digestive problems and prolonged illnesses. Beans, tofu, soy milk, dairy & nuts did not cut it as protein sources.
You want all the naturally occurring fats:
Polyunsaturated fats like fish oil. Just eat fish. Especially wild salmon.
Monounsaturated fats like olives, olive oil, avocados, nuts & seeds
Saturated fats like coconut oil, coconut milk, butter, lard
Fruits and starchy veggies like potato & sweet potato are great post workout for athletes with good body composition. If you are trying to lean out you need to limit these.
If you train frequently at high intensity you can even get away with some rice. You need some carbs for recovery from heavy training. But if your waistline starts expanding you need to cut back.
How much should you eat?
Eat until you are satisfied. Not stuffed, just satisfied. Don’t leave the table hungry. Eat immediately after training. Your body needs fuel ASAP. Eat when you wake up. Not hungry in the morning? Eat small portions.
Most people are not eating enough. How will you know if you are getting the nutrition that you need? Your body will grow lean and strong, you will rock your workouts, you will avoid chronic injuries and common illnesses, you will feel great!
Want to learn more about fueling for performance, come chat with us at CrossFit Empower on Dunbar Street in Vancouver https://www.empowereverybody.com/get-started/