To be a part of this challenge you will need to be a Science Lab member (you get Met Flex for Fat Loss) and we will provide support along the way.
The CrossFit community is always up for a challenge. Whether it’s training or nutrition, we like to push ourselves into new territory. It’s very common to see boxes doing 30 day Paleo Challenges; this has it’s good and bad points if you ask me.
The problem is that that the focus tends to be contrary to the goals of what CrossFit is all about: to increase performance by building/maintaining muscle and having awesome workouts. It’s very common for people to say to me “Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s great but I have X amount of fat to lose so I need to restrict my calories.”
Oh really? Do you have more than (say) 65 lbs. to lose? Because that is the exact amount of fat I lost, and I didn’t do it with a calorie-restricted approach. This is where they reply, “I don’t count calories, I eat Paleo.” Just because you don’t count calories doesn’t mean you aren’t eating less of them. That is ultimately the goal of the Paleo Diet…To eliminate the foods with “energy density” and focus on “nutrient density.”
This works well for sedentary people folks, but it isn’t a great fit for athletes. How do I know this? Because Dr. Cordain, author of “The Paleo Diet,” wrote a follow-up book called “The Paleo Diet for Athletes.” Almost no one has bothered to read it.
Left to their own devices, people have found a way of eating that might be better than gorging on Ben and Jerry’s every evening, but it isn’t in-line with their performance goals.
Eat To Perform is all about taking concepts we’re familiar with and effectively applying them to various goals and scenarios.
Setting Up the Challenge
Basically, there will be three forms of body fat testing allowed for the challenge; they are outlined in this article. Just to be clear, your “body fat” test is actually a “lean body mass” test. The challenge is to gain muscle and set Personal Records (PR’s). I can already hear people saying “But I have X amount of fat to lose! Count me out!” Returning to that way of thinking is the very reason your potential is limited (though I will concede the point late in the article so bear with me).
The simple fact is that if you focus on the other two goals (gaining muscle/setting PR’s) fat loss happens without much effort. Certainly, there has to be some level of restraint, and we will talk a bit about that as we go.
How Long is the Challenge?
The challenge will run for 3 months (roughly 90 days) with a 21-day optional “Whole Foods” period. This is what I mean by whole foods; basically meats, veggies, moderate starches, and some fruit (sound familiar?). So why is this part of the challenge optional? In short, I am tired of seeing challenges meant for 25% of the folks in the gym. The entire gym population can participate in this challenge because the only thing stopping someone from eating entirely Paleo is supplements. From where I stand, supplements can play a very valuable role in the health equation.
This is especially true for people that are lean, as well as people that are kind of “on the fence” as far as body composition goes. For these people, “eating clean” 100% of the time can lead to fat retention because their body doesn’t undergo adequate protein synthesis. (These people can end up losing muscle mass.)
What Happens After the 21 Days?
Most people have heard of the 80/20 rule where you eat 80% whole foods give yourself 20% of “wiggle room” for stuff slightly outside of the box. I think one of the biggest mistakes that we can make as health advocates is to demonize foods as “good” or “bad.” The simple fact is that if you do it mostly right with occasional moments of “eating for joy,” that is probably a better approach.
Studies seem to indicate that people who allow for some wiggle in their diet tend to be able to adhere for life. It’s the die-hard, 100% folks that struggle. If you don’t understand why that is, let me give you an example.
Oftentimes people want to look at 80/20 on a day-to-day basis; they have some “junk food” every day but eat mostly whole foods. I prefer to reserve a few days of eating for joy each month where I have pizza and ice cream on Friday nights with my family. Monday-Thursday are pretty close to 100% clean. The resultant outcomes of these deviations from eating clean tend to be personal records and happiness.
It’s simple math: the more energy you have inside you, the more energy your body can release. To that end, I make a strong argument for NOT following cheat days with days of extreme restriction. It’s unnecessary. It can make your cells more inflexible, and it causes more stress that you have to recover from.
Speaking of recovery, I desperately want to make this part of the deal…But I won’t go there right now. Just know this: rest is favorable for many reasons, not the least of which is that it makes you feel like a caged animal chomping at the bit. It makes you hungry to train and allows you to focus on your goals, so don’t forget to take some time to relax.
A Concession to the Fat Loss Folks
I told you this was coming: If you stick with me and try my approach, I think you are going to be surprised how much fat you actually lose, but let’s say that by the end of this you still have some fat to shed.
In that instance, I’ll offer a three week challenge specifically for fat loss but you have to first try it my way to ensure we have the best chance of meeting your goals.
So I Have Some Good and Some Bad News
This is going to take some time to organize, so the goal is to begin August 1st. that doesn’t mean that you should delay becoming a Science Lab member until then. For a lot of people, what we teach is a new approach to eating and “Metabolic Flexibility for High Intensity Athletes” isn’t something that your body figures out over night. I think there is a lot of value in joining, becoming a member of our club, and starting down the bath to becoming better right now.
The ultimate goal of this challenge is to get box owners involved on a lot of levels, but if your gym isn’t interested, that’s fine. We are going to provide training resources, food ideas, and virtually anything that will make the challenge more fun. We will have prizes, but certainly nothing anyone would have enough incentive to misrepresent results to obtain.
I look forward to seeing you in the Science Lab. Thanks for reading!