Aug 18th, 2012
By Connie Moreno
Lovely CFO ladies on an outing
We all know that I’m crazy about the paleo diet, or as I refer to it to non-crossfit people: a whole foods diet. Meat, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds; this is the foundation of any healthy eating plan, in my eyes. And as long as you stick to these foods, there’s no weighing, measuring and most importantly, no calorie-counting. Sweet! For veteran dieters out there, learning that they can eat unlimited quantities of these foods is immensely liberating. It’s one of the biggest draws to the paleo diet. While I think it’s nearly impossible to eat too much chicken & broccoli, there are some “safe” paleo foods that you should eat prudently.
Hooray, you’ve cast aside Doritos for dry roasted almonds! Almonds are high in magnesium and a good source of fiber and a 100 times better for you than salty chips or crackers. In the same vein as these salty snacks, it’s hard to know when to stop. So, what’s the big deal? Yes, they are a whole food and snacks are hard to come by in the paleo world, but almonds and other nuts are a dense source of Omega-6 fats.
Omega-6 fats, like Omega-3 fats, are essential, meaning our bodies can’t make them so we have to get them from our diet but they should be in the right ratio. Ideally about 3:1. Foods rich in omega-6 are ubiquitous in our diets and we don’t quite get the right balance of these two vital fats. The average American gets somewhere around 20:1 omega-6 to omega-3! We all know the benefits of anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fats–it’s why we sell it at the gym–but if you’re munching on nuts all day and drinking almond milk by the gallon then you might be consuming too many of these fats.
Take a look at the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in some nuts/seeds. The first number is the omega-6:
Chia seeds 1:3
Flax seeds 1:3
Macadamia nuts 6:1
Pumpkin seed 117:1
Sunflower seed 300:1
Brazil nut 1000:1
Try to stick to the ones with a better ratio.
While nutrition can be very divisive, almost everyone can agree that we should eat more fruits and vegetables. It’s the mantra of the health/fitness world. Unfortunately, fruit’s been lumped in with vegetables, giving people a free pass to eat as much as we want.
On one hand fruit is a healthy substitute for other sweet foods like candy; it’s loaded with fiber and nutrients and it’s a great on-the-go snack . On the other hand, because fruit is sweet and delicious, one can easily devour an entire bag of grapes, cherries, you name it, in one sitting. I know I have. That’s a whole lot of sugar! Just 1 banana has 27 grams of sugar. Yes, I know it’s not that forbidden white stuff, but even too much natural sugar can be an issue for some. For example, if you’re goal is to lose weight, too much fruit can impede your weight loss efforts. Also, if you’re trying to get rid of your sweet tooth, eating copious amounts of fruit is not the best strategy. Fruit can make a good snack but on its own it can spike your blood sugar and leave you feeling hungry and tired shortly there after. I like to keep fruit consumption post-workout, when your muscles are depleted of sugar, especially after a longer metcon. Outside of workouts, stick to the fruits higher in fiber like strawberries, raspberries, or cantaloupe and always pair it with some protein.
#3 Coconut water
I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, I know this is a favorite among crossfitters but like fruit, there is a time and place for coconut water. It’s a wonderful natural sports drink that provides the body with much needed electrolytes during or after long workouts. It trumps any other sports drink, in my book! That said, it does contain natural sugars and for that reason it should be consumed post-workout and should not be used to replace water. Water is like the step-child of beverages because it doesn’t taste like anything but it’s vital to good health. How much water do you need? Shoot for getting ½ of your bodyweight in fluid ounces everyday.
Again, in no way am I knocking these foods, this is just some cautionary advice before you all launch into the clean-eating challenge. All of these foods are part of a healthy, balanced diet and if you’re including these in your eating plan, you’re on the right track!