Gut Check – How’s Your Nutrition?

 In Daily WODs, News & Events

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Nutrition can be a touchy topic, like politics or religion, which we take very personally. Good nutrition is the foundation not only for general health but also for high performance fitness. In the theoretical hierarchy of development nutrition is the base and largest piece of the pyramid. Without a solid molecular foundation you will only progress so far before plateauing.

Finely tuned, a good diet will increase health, energy and sense of well being while reducing fat, packing on muscle and optimizing physical performance. Your nutrition will amplify or diminish the effects of your training efforts.

I know that all of you are diligent and almost religious about getting to the gym and getting your WOD on. You hate missing a day and feel remorse when you do. What about outside the box? How diligent are you at home with what you have in your fridge and cupboards? What are you putting into your gut to help your progress as a fit and healthy individual?

I know we talk about nutrition a lot at Four Barrel, but here are a few reminders.

Simply put:

Eat lean meats and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar

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The Fine Print:  Sciency Stuff

Carbohydrates = Insulin                                   Protein = Glucagon

We need a balance of Carb/Sugar/Insulin (lets energy into the cell) and Protein/Glucagon (lets energy out of the cell) to maintain optimum health.

Think of food as a drug that effects your hormone production. Food is made up of the
Macronutrients: protein, carbohydrate & fat. (Micronutrients are vitamins & minerals) Eating carbohydrates effects your production of the hormone insulin and eating protein effects your production of the hormone glucagon. Glucagon releases stored energy (glucose) out of the liver and into the bloodstream where insulin pulls that energy out of the bloodstream into your cells to be used as fuel. We need to maintain a healthy balance of these two hormones for optimal health, mental & emotional balance, and physical performance. (Eating fat is hormonally neutral and supports the balance.)

Carbohydrates: (4 calories/gram) 40% of healthy diet

Insulin is the hormone produced in the pancreas that allows glucose into cells where it can be utilized as fuel. Though insulin is absolutely essential to life, chronic and acute elevation of insulin (through heredity or eating too much carbohydrate) will decrease the cells sensitivity to it. This causes the pancreas to secrete more insulin than is normal to get glucose inside the cell. This process is known as “insulin resistance” and the resultant condition is “Hyperinsulinemia”.

Diseases like Diabetes Type II, coronary heart disease, depression, Alzheimer’s, hypertension, osteoporosis & obesity have all been scientifically linked to a diet too high in processed carbohydrate.

The food we eat also elicits a hormonal response that determines how energy is stored in the body. Sugar drives the Insulin response & Insulin drives fat storage & slows the metabolism.  Recommended Daily?: 1 g or less per lb of body weight


One problem in particular with a low carb diet is that if you stay on them for too long your leptin levels will drop. Leptin is a protein that acts on the receptors in the hypothalamus of the brain where it inhibits appetite and keeps your metabolic rate up. Protein and fat trigger it’s release. Carbohydrates do not. Lower levels mean that your metabolic rate also drops and your hunger rises. Hence CHEAT DAY!!…high carb and higher calorie day about once per week.

Protein: (4 calories/gram) 30% of healthy diet

Eating protein along with carbohydrate in the correct proportions will negate the insulin reaction and the fat storage trigger. In the absence of ingested protein, your body will break down muscle to fulfill its protein requirement. Recommended daily amount is 1 to 1.5 g per lb of bodyweight

Fat: (9 calories/gram) 30% of healthy diet

Fat is your optimal energy source. It contains over 2 times the calories of protein or carbs. Eating “Good” fat (polyunsaturated fatty acids, Omega-3, DHA, EPA) does not slow metabolism, subjects do not feel hungry and energy is released from fat storage. The “Good” fats can actually increase insulin sensitivity and reduce insulin resistance. (Gary Taubes – “Good Calories, Bad Calories”). The human body cannot produce these fatty acids, they must be ingested. These essential fatty acids also help in hormone production, regulating blood pressure, blood clotting, immune response & inflammation response. The human heart and skeletal muscles prefer fatty acids as fuel where the brain prefers glucose. Good fats are found in nuts & seeds, avocado and fish. “Bad” fats are the trans-fats, man-made fats and animal fats and have none of the beneficial effects of the good fats.     Recommended daily amount is .25 to .5 g per lb of body weight

Will it make me fat? Not if eating the right kind.

What do I Eat??

Lean meats and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and NO SUGAR!! Limit Fruit to 1 serving a day if fat loss is your goal!!  I challenge you to read your labels and see just how much sugar is hidden in your food.  Check this LINK to see just how sneaky sugar can be.

Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. The fresher the better! Avoid packaged products and anything with ingredients that you don’t understand. Artificial sweetners? All except saccharine will also evoke an insulin response. Alcohol? 7 empty calories per gram!!


4-8 oz lean meat such as chicken, lean beef, turkey, pork loin or seafood

Several servings of vegetables either raw steamed or lightly cooked

Good fats (monounsaturated or polyunsaturated) walnuts, almond, avocados, olive oil, seafood and Omega-3 fatty acids


Protein Every Meal

3-4 Meals a day. Don’t go 4 hour without eating

Limit fruit to 1 serving if fat loss is goal

Limit nuts to 1-2 oz if fat loss is a goal

Increase fat to double or even quadruple if you’re a hard gainer

Beverages should be coffee, tea, mineral water and nothing sweetened!!

Go for a walk!! Get outside and move!!

Sleep!! Black out your room and try and get 8 full hours or sleep until you wake up!

Keep a food stash: Jerky (sugar free), nuts, hard boiled eggs, sweet potatoes, fresh fruit, RX bars.





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