If you are looking for quick and easy tips to get ripped, shredded, and sport that ever so desirable six-pack, chiseled out of stone physique then you've come to the wrong place. Go do Paleo and Fran yourself to death:
Don't get me wrong, I am not knocking CrossFit at all. The dieting and programming works for the purpose of their competitions. I am, however, leery of a sport whose unofficial mascot is a dying clown that just prolapsed his colon and shit out a kidney:
Anyway, this post is not about CrossFit. This post is about performance nutrition to maximize sport performance and weeding out the plethora of bad information that athletes are being fed (pun intended). I can't even count how many times a day I get this: "How do I get rid of this gut but still get bigger... but not not too much bigger, I don't want to get bulky and look like those freakshow body builder guys. Actually, I don't wanna get bigger, I just want to lean out... but, you know keep the muscle I've got... you know. I just want to show off the muscle I've got but, without getting bigger."
I don't know where this comes from. The media? Pro athletes? Actors? Actresses? It doesn't matter. What does matter is this weird, misdirected quest for what most people perceive as the 'perfect body' has spilled over into the world of sports nutrition. It has made so much of an influence that I hear strength athletes bitching about their love handles after they just squatted a personal record.
Now, I am not saying everyone needs to get fat and awful. I am saying just the opposite. Every athlete should only be concerned with one singular variable throughout their entire sporting career: Efficiency.
Most of the time, the most efficient body type is not one that mimics a borderline anorexic. We, as a society, have been conditioned to accept that aesthetics are the number one determining factor of whether or not an individual is an 'athlete.' They could perform terrible on the field or in the competition, but at least they look good while they stand in last place and get a participation trophy.
"But what about (insert jacked professional athlete here)?" It's their job. They get paid to play. If it were your high paying job to be a physical specimen, you would probably be pretty good at it too. Also, most of these guys/girls were born with a 12-pack, superior genetics, and were brought into this world running a sub-4.5 40 yard dash. A prime example of this is a guy who has been wrecking his opponents for a long time. Here is a picture of Vernon Davis...
... when he was in high school.
I am assuming those reading this are part of the other 99.9999% of the Earth's population so here are some Performance Nutrition tips based off of some common questions that I get.
I can't gain weight, even though I eat a lot.
This is more common in younger male athletes and basically all male strength sport enthusiasts. My first recommendation is always the same... the JM Blakely diet:
Breakfast: Got to McDonalds, get at least 4 breakfast sandwiches, get 2 packets of mayo for each sandwich, and eat it all.
Lunch: Go to a buffet (Chinese food is best) and eat as much food as you possibly can in 20 minutes. Seriously, load up like 5 plates, get a stopwatch, and eat for 20 minutes straight. If you stop eating, you aren't trying hard enough.
Dinner: One large pizza with whatever toppings you want, meat encouraged. Before you eat the entire large pizza in one sitting, dump a bottle of olive oil on top of it.
For those keeping score, this is about 11,000 calories and a carb/fat/protein split of 33/33/33... the extra 1% is the added awesome-ness eating like this will bring to your life.
The first thing people say is "Well, I don't want to get fat." Well, then you don't really want to gain weight. Diet and eating programs that offer lean gains without adding any fat to your skinny bony frame are just trying to sell you something. Want to know why people get RIPPED on P90X? Because the diet plan that goes along with it is borderline starving yourself to death. The intense training that goes along with the program causes Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption for up to 36 hours after the training has ceased. Coupling that with the anorexia like eating plan that goes along with it and you get SWOLE. The problem is, anytime you lose any fat you look better. When you lose a lot of fat, like when you are starving to death, you look like your muscles have gotten bigger. This shit is not rocket science. It's MUSCLE CONFUSION!!!!!
Muscle needs calories to grow. More muscle than you currently have needs more calories to grow. If you want to get bigger, eat more. Time it out to take advantage of the natural biorhythms we, human beings, have developed. Ever wonder why you are heavier in the winter time? It's not because it's too cold to go jogging (please tell me you don't jog), it's because we are genetically programmed to store as much as possible when the weather gets colder. This is from thousands of years of hunting and gathering. Simply, we couldn't go out and hunt for food in the cold weather. So, as a result, even with tombstone pizza's and McDonalds available, we still get fatter to survive the winter.
So, to recap: you don't have a fast metabolism. You just aren't eating enough. It's easier to store the foods you are eating in the winter so go nuts with your eating and training during the coldest months of the year. Are you a numbers person? Dammit. Ok:
Protein: Shoot for 1.5g to 2g per pound of body weight a day. Sounds like a lot? See. You aren't eating enough. Split this with your carbs and fats and shoot for a 33%/33%/33% distribution. A lot of people will say eating 33% fat is high. As long as it's good fat, fat doesn't make you fat. Carbs do. Which brings me to the next scenario:
I've tried everything and can't get ripped!
I will turn this over to strength enthusiast, self-proclaimed professional dumbbell curler, and, most importantly, toned Paul Bocian:
I don't know who the 'boys' are but, this guy is JACKED!
Just in case there's anyone left who didn't kill themselves after watching that, which I would completely understand if you did, I will continue with my gettin' ripped plan.
The only thing that matters in regards to burning fat is controlling your insulin. People will argue this saying "but a calorie is a calorie, you need to eat less!" Ok, here is an experiment you can run on yourself: Eat 2,000 calories in fruit loops everyday for 6 months. If you are still alive at the end of the 6 months, switch to 2,000 calories of lean meat and veggies everyday for 6 months. Which one makes you feel better? Which one makes you look better? There will be a very big difference.
Anyway, your body has natural daily circadian hormonal rhythms. Insulin is lowest in the morning, highest in the evening for normal healthy people. Common sense/human metabolism tells us that when insulin (anabolic) is low, cortisol (catabolic) is high. In other words, training your ass off on an empty stomach (food elevates insulin when you eat it) first think in the morning takes advantage of the ideal fat burning conditions in your body. I am not talking about plodding along on a treadmill right after you wake up. I mean do a Tabata, push a heavy sled, load up a barbell and do some sort of interval training, hop on a spin bike and go 15 second sprint/45 second rest for 20 minutes, whatever. It just has to be hard and you should feel like you are going to die when its over. So, how should you eat the rest of the day? Much like the recommendations above except shoot for 1g to 1.5g of protein per pound of body weight, then split up your macronutrients 33/33/33 based on that protein number.
Sounds about the same as the gaining weight plan, right? Well, here is the difference:
You are only allowed to eat carbs after you train. On days you don't train, you don't eat carbs and you split protein and fat 50/50 to make up for the caloric deficit.
The next obvious question is: "What are my good choices?" This is easy, imagine the food pyramid. Now imagine dumping gasoline all over it and lighting it on fire.
With that out of the way, here is your new food... umm... triangle?
Carbs: Anything without gluten or sugar. Veggies don't count and you should eat 50 cups a day.
Fat: Healthy oils, nuts you aren't allergic too, and natural peanut/almond butter.
What About Science?
A lot of people are going to read this and start going nuts over whatever research is popular this month. Whatever eight week study some jerk-ass in a lab coat did in a laboratory sponsored by whatever company will yield the greatest cash benefit based on the tampered with results.
He just cured cancer with Splenda... at Splenda Labs... in Splenda, Arizona... his name is Dr. Splenda.
Well, here you go:
I am running a life long experiment on how I can kick the most ass before I die. An eight week, eight month, or eight year study under controlled conditions will not be able to tell anyone what is good for anybody in regards to sport, health, and life performance.
Are my recommendations perfect? Not by a longshot. Are they a good guideline for people who have failed with other plans? I have no idea. I am just sharing what I have seen work for myself and others I train/train with. So, before you start sending me mail bombs and burning diet books in my front yard, keep in mind these are helpful guidelines. Theres are not the end all, be all, x-factor of whatever you are training for.
Take Home Message
The keyword in the title of this post: Performance. Performance in life. Performance on the field or on the platform. Performance to not be that asshole that has to ask how the grilled chicken is prepared when you go out to eat with a group of friends.
Here is what you should do, regardless of what diet you follow or what your goals are: Eat a ton of real food. Meat, veggies, fruits (I don't understand how people can stomach them though), and water. Doing this most of the time will allow you to splurge every once in a while without ill-effects. Personally, I eat pretty clean about 95% of the time. Maintaining my petite 280lb frame requires 2 or 3 triple baconators every now and then. But, because the rest of my life is in check, my blood work is perfect, my cardiac enzymes are perfect, I am not a lumbering un-athletic fat guy, and my performance in my sport (powerlifting) is always improving.
You are what you eat. So, don't eat like a weak, fat, idiot.
Solum Per Exitum.