the OPEN!!! and the balancing game….

*NOTE: This is one of my earliest posts. My mindset and focus as a Nutritionist Consultant has changed a lot with education, and I now focus first on nutrient-density and then on balancing macros, BUT I still believe whole heartedly that everyone should measure food at least once to get a good grasp of what proper portion sizes are and what balance he/she needs to perform, function at their best

Open 14.1 is upon us today!! Who is ready? I mean really ready, even down to the fuel you’re putting into that well-oiled CrossFit machine? Read this, and then we’ll talk workout/movement prep. First things first….

Today I am writing about the ZONE diet, but before you bail on me, please wait it out. This is about way more than weighing and measuring food, and it has NOTHING to do with counting calories or being crazy about food and everything to do with finding balance…. Still with me? Great, now stick it out, and I won’t make this a long one, but I will make it connect to the Open for all ability levels and goals.

Now if you haven’t heard of the Zone Diet, click here for a CrossFit Journal article that breaks it down. I’ll reference this article a few times throughout this post because it give you a starting point, references for measurement, and lists of foods to eat a lot of and foods to avoid.

FIRST, LET’S TALK ABOUT WHY YOU SHOULD EVEN CARE.

  • Have you been going to the gym regularly, but haven’t been able to lose that last bit of fat?
  • Have you been focusing on gaining muscle, but just can’t seem to put any weight ON?
  • Do you feel like your performance has hit a wall?
  • Are you making awesome gains in the gym and want to keep ramping up and heading in the right direction?

Now, be honest, you answered yes to at least one of those, right? Well, perhaps zoning your food might be the option.

Before you back out now, understand that this method of eating doesn’t have to be a lifetime endeavor. It can be something you commit to for a only a month, but it can change the way you look at food for the rest of your life, and for some people, it can be a lifesaver.

It can help you look better naked, it can help you add 20 pounds to your clean and jerk, but most importantly, this way of eating can help you fend off diseases that stem from hyperinsulinemia because zoning your food throughout the day helps you avoid the insulin spikes that can cause way too many diseases to count, the kinds of diseases that are becoming an epidemic in our country.

*more on this topic can be found here!

NOW, ONTO THE HOW.

Here we go… onto the adventure that is ZONING. Now it really truly is as simple as adding one single step into your daily meal prep, and I personally think it makes things easier because it takes out any of the guesswork.

You now have a exact guide for how to FUEL your body to perform to your best potential… and yes, while food is definitely meant to be enjoyed, it is truly fuel for our bodies, and the sooner we can start seeing it that way, the sooner we will develop a much healthier, empowered view of eating in general.

That was a bit of a digression, so back on topic. How do we Zone? It comes down to breaking every meal into “blocks,” which look like this:

1 block = 9 grams CARB, 7 grams PROTEIN, 1.5 grams FAT

Throughout your day, you have a set number of blocks to eat, and the goal is to spread them out throughout the day following the 5×5 rule, never go more than 5 hours without eating, and never eat more than a 5 block meal.

To find out how many blocks you should eat in a day, start by looking at your t-shirt size, then look at this chart, and that is your starting point.

A typical CrossFitting male will eat about 20 blocks in a day, and he can break this down however he might want (following the 5×5 rule). Lets say he goes for this plan:

  • 5 block breakfast
  • 2 block snack
  • 5 block lunch
  • 2 block snack
  • 5 block dinner
  • 1 block snack

Each one of those meals would consist of a certain number of blocks, and every block contains 1 block protein (7 grams), 1 block carbs (9 grams), and 1 block fat (1.5 grams).

You use measuring cups for your carbs, a scale for your proteins, and your eyeballs mostly for the fat. You should have a good understanding of what makes up each of those categories from my last nutrition post! If not, take a look here.

ImageBUT WHAT IF I’M HUNGRY??

That is a great questions, and this is where you have to be in tune with your body…. Which is a topic for my next nutrition post, by the way.

Are you really hungry, or are you going through sugar withdrawals? Feel it out for a week, and see how it goes. If you are starving, add a block. How do you feel? And how is your performance in the gym? Better? Good then that’s your number.

Some people might need a little bit more protein, some might need more fat. Experiment, and see what works best, but you have to start somewhere.

You also have to stick with it for at least 2 weeks to let your body adjust. But I promise you, by balancing your macronutrients in this way, you will have constant energy levels all day. With that in mind, it is also CRUCIAL that you still eat high quality, nutrient-dense foods to keep your body, mind, cells, and entire makeup running strong, happy and healthy. Balancing macros is the final step to success, but without a foundation of kick-ass nutrient dense micro-nutrients, cravings will never go away because your body will always be asking for more when it’s in a nutrient deficiency. Then, without the insulin spikes and crashes (which you’ll do away with by balancing macros), you’ll feel like a million bucks, and I wouldn’t be here talking about this stuff if I hadn’t tried it myself!

Do I take my scale everywhere I go? (And for those of you who know me well, you know I go a lot of places).  No, I do not. After about 4 solid months of doing this strictly (back in 2011), I now am very in-tune with my food. I can estimate almost to the ounce on my protein amounts, and I have the carbs down. I’ll never look at food the same, and I always know what the issue is when I see my performance in the gym stalling, and even better? I know how to fix it. Am I eating enough blocks? Are my meals balanced?

I do a lot of food prep before I travel, and I bring a lot of Perfect Foods Bars with me on the go (no they aren’t perfectly balanced, but they are close!). Here are 3 separate 4 block meals that I packed for my trip to work a Level 1 Seminar in Houston this weekend (In my job having balanced energy levels all day is CRUCIAL).

Image 4 block chicken, 2 block sweet potato, 2 block broccoli (all cooked in coconut oil)

This stuff is just as important as keeping track of your PRs and Fran times, and it WILL help you perform well in the Open.

If nothing else, zoning provides perspective on portion control. Now I know that 1 piece of bread is equal to 8 cups of broccoli. I dare you to try to spike your insulin with broccoli. No one will want to be around you for the next few hours.

Give it a shot, see how you feel, and don’t hesitate to tell me I am full of crap. But what can it hurt to try? 

*NOTE: This is one of my earliest posts. My mindset and focus as a Nutritionist Consultant has changed a lot with education, and I now focus first on nutrient-density and then on balancing macros, BUT I still believe whole heartedly that everyone should measure food at least once to get a good grasp of what proper portion sizes are and what balance he/she needs to perform, function at their best

By | 2015-03-31T13:43:00-08:00 February 28th, 2014|Movement Tips, Nutrition|5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. rachelaugh February 28, 2014 at 6:38 am - Reply

    Where were you 30 days ago when I.started a zone challenge??? Lol just kidding…loved your post! Great description!

    • cflaurab February 28, 2014 at 6:51 am - Reply

      Oops! How did it go? Hopefully the challenge can turn into a habit! Glad you enjoyed the post. More like this to come… stay tuned 🙂

  2. Sarah March 3, 2014 at 3:00 am - Reply

    Hi Laura! I have already spoken with you over email about a back injury I’m currently rehabbing and I’m wondering- do you change your zone numbers when you aren’t working out and resting your injuries? I feel anxious right now when I am sticking to the same zone numbers as before even though I’m currently not allowed to work out.

    • cflaurab March 3, 2014 at 3:25 am - Reply

      Hey Sarah. That’s a great question. I did alter my blocks when I couldn’t train. I typically kept my protein the same, but I decreased my carb blocks by 4-5 depending on how inactive I was. I also stuck to “favorable” cards (lots of broccoli, kale, etc). Then, I increased fat blocks so I’m not hungry. Let me know how it goes! Get well soon.

  3. […] to waste any time at the store or over my oven. It is blocked out to a perfect 3 block (here is a post I did on the Zone diet a little while ago). And because almost everything is from Costco, […]

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