If you’re participating in the Open, I’ve written a CrossFit Open 15.5 nutrition strategy for you!
15.5 is going to challenge even the most elite competitors. This couplet of rowing and thrusters is going to burn through some major glycogen and leave you gassed.
Eating well in the days, weeks and months leading up to the Open is the biggest way to set up a strong foundation for your best performance, but there are certainly some things to think about for 15.5.
If you’re doing The Open, the workout for the fifth (and last) week is:
27-21-15-9 reps for time of:
Row (calories) Thrusters
Men use 95 lb.
Women use 65 lb.
Going hard enough to get a good score while keeping yourself from red-lining and blowing up is going to be critical!
I competed in The Open three times and went to Regionals in 2013, so I know exactly how this one is going to feel: painful. This is the last WOD so give it your best effort!
If you’re participating in the Open, I’ve written a CrossFit Open 15.4 nutrition strategy for you!
So far, the workouts have been pretty true to CrossFit’s roots, and 15.4 is no different: an AMRAP ascending ladder of handstand push-ups and cleans.
Eating well in the days, weeks and months leading up to the Open is the biggest way to set up a strong foundation for your best performance, but there are certainly some things to think about for 15.4.
If you’re doing The Open, the workout for the fourth week is:
The lynch-pin is going to be the handstand push-ups for most people. The reps quickly escalate and if you’re not careful to stay just under your limit, it’s easy to fatigue to the point of failure. In such a short workout it’ll be hard to recover if you burn your shoulders and arms out.
I competed in The Open three times and went to Regionals in 2013, so I know exactly how this one is going to feel. It’s going to fly by!
If you’re participating in the Open, I’ve got a CrossFit Open 15.3 nutrition strategy that I wrote just for you!
So far, we’ve seen a classic couplet plus a separately scored max lift in 15.1, then a repeat of last year’s 14.2 ascending ladder. Now, 15.3 is a challenging triplet AMRAP (as many rounds / reps as possible) of muscle ups, wall balls, and double-unders.
It’s safe to say that eating well in the days, weeks and months leading up to the Open is the biggest way to set up a strong foundation for your best performance, but there are definitely some key pieces to think about based on the challenges in 15.3.
If you’re doing The Open, the workout for the third week is:
7 muscle-ups 50 wall balls 100 double-unders
M 20-lb. ball to 10’
F 14-lb. ball to 9’
There is a scaled division workout if you don’t have a muscle up or double-unders yet, and it’s:
50 wall balls 200 single-unders
M 20-lb. ball to 9’
F 10-lb. ball to 9’
AMRAPs are all about how much you can push through the urge to stop! If you’re skilled at muscle ups, those will be a fatiguing component right off the start.
The wall balls are a grinder no matter what division you’re competing in, so remember to rest only briefly; it’s easy to stand around trying to catch your breath. As for double- or single-unders, try to maintain a stacked body position and keep your movements relaxed yet controlled.
I competed in The Open three times and went to Regionals in 2013, so you could say I’m pretty familiar with how to eat for these types of workouts.
If you’re participating in the Open, I’ve written a CrossFit Open 15.2 nutrition strategy for you!
15.1 threw a curveball at the field with a separately scored, two-part workout of a classic AMRAP triplet plus a time-capped max clean and jerk. And now, 15.2 has been announced as the encore to last year’s 14.2! If you did The Open last year, this is a great one to test your progress and see how much fitter you are.
It’s safe to say that eating well in the days, weeks and months leading up to the Open is the biggest way to set up a strong foundation for your best performance, but there are definitely some key pieces to think about based on what 15.2 is throwing your way.
If you’re doing The Open, the workout for the second week is:
If you’re participating in the Open, I’ve written a CrossFit Open 15.1 nutrition strategy for you!
It’s safe to say that eating well in the days, weeks and months leading up to the Open is the biggest way to set up a strong foundation for your best performance, but there are definitely some key pieces to think about based on what 15.1 is throwing your way.
If you’re doing The Open, the workout for the first week is:
Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 9 minutes of:
Before you start strength training, there are four things you definitely need to consider.
Lifting heavy things and building muscle mass are incredibly important, especially as we pass into mid-adulthood and beyond. If you’ve been considering starting a strength program, check out my list of four things to look out for.
I shared it on The Paleo Mom’s website, where I was recently a guest blogger.
Time for an update on The Performance Paleo Cookbook!
It’s been a crazy past few months working on the cookbook, but we’re at an exciting stage. I’ve turned in the manuscript and completed the photographs (still need to finish editing those) which means the lion’s share of the creative content is done. I’m still catching my breath a bit!
Originally, I wasn’t planning to take the photographs myself, but the opportunity arose and I knew we’d get the best possible outcome if I stepped up to the plate (no pun intended). What followed was a hectic month.
We—the hubs and I—built wood backdrops and shopped for props. (I definitely have too many bowls now.) I cooked every recipe again from scratch and according to spec to check the flavors one more time. I styled and photographed 90 of the 100 recipes in the cookbook here in the dining room of our tiny, 100-year-old cottage. I made a literal mountain of dishes and went through a figurative ton of food.
It was all worth it because I know the cookbook is going to be on point for y’all! So, what happens next?
Now, the book will be formatted, arranged and edited over the next few months, then it will go off to the printer so it’s ready for its debut on January 6th. (Remember, this is an actual print book!) I know it seems like a long time to wait, but the time will fly by, I’m convinced. The good news is that you can pre-order now and lock in the early bird price of 25% off! Click here for Amazon or here for Barnes and Noble. It’ll also be formatted into a digital version if e-readers are your cup of tea.
What’s going to be in The Performance Paleo Cookbook?
100 recipes with 90 full-color photographs,
50 recipe combo ideas to make full meals,
7 different fueling protocols to help plan for whatever time of the day you train,
Pre- and post-workout snack ideas,
Tons of protein-rich and carb-dense recipes,
So for now, I’ll be turning a lot more attention back to the site (we have a site refresh coming up to make it more user-friendly) and working on some awesome new resources. Thanks for all your continued support!
July’s giveaway is a prize pack of fish oil, magnesium and vitamin D from my friends at PurePharma!
When it comes to supplements, I’m a minimalist and a skeptic by nature. I don’t rely on pills, powders and potions because when it comes down to it, good nutrition must have its roots in good nutrition. Put another way, trying to supplement your way out of a consistently poor diet is missing the point.
That being said, there are definitely exceptions I make when it comes to supplements, and this trio of products from PurePharma has been a consistent part of my regimen for the last three years and counting. I don’t take them all every single day; rather, it depends on what my diet might be lacking (because not even Paleo nutritionists are perfect) or I happen to be getting more of. For example, when I eat a gorgeous piece of wild salmon for dinner, I generally skip out on supplementing with fish oil. When I haven’t been training as hard, I’ll usually pass on the magnesium.
PurePharma is growing in popularity especially amongst the CrossFit community, but make no mistake: the core trio of fish oil, magnesium and vitamin D can be used by anyone, athlete or not. When I train hard, I feel confident taking PurePharma to supplement my diet because I know their products are backed by science and verified by stringent quality measures.
A little bit about the products:
PurePharma O3 is the ultra-pure fish oil with a 5:2 EPA/DHA ratio. I take it in small doses particularly because it calms the inflammation I tend to get from training. The Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are known to support heart, brain and eye health, too. Read more here.
PurePharma M3 is probably my favorite of the three. It’s two forms of magnesium (they’re way easier on the colon than Natural Calm), plus zinc. Mag and zinc assist in muscle recovery and help maintain electrolyte balance. Plus, when taken at night, many folks (including me) enjoy a calming effect. Read more here.
PurePharma D3 is vitamin D combined with coconut oil for better absorption. Vitamin D is implicated in many aspects of health including bone integrity and immunity. It might come as a surprise that most people are deficient in vitamin D, even those of us living in sunny locales. Read more here.
Kinda reminds me of these guys (I’ve just dated myself).
Perhaps one of the most common questions I get from athletes is whether or not they can use whey protein if they’re Paleo. It’s used by so many people for training and competition, and it’s heavily marketed to athletes for recovery. Why is it such a darling? It’s relatively cheap, digests fast and is convenient.
Let’s explore this question because the answer isn’t purely cut and dry.
The short answer: no.
The long answer: it totally depends on your context whether or not it could be part of YOUR Paleo.
First, we’ll deal with the arguments against and then, the arguments for.
Is Whey Protein Paleo? Argument #1:
Whey protein isn’t Paleo because it’s a dairy product.
If we want to be dogmatic about it then yes, whey protein isn’t Paleo because it’s an isolated fraction from cow’s milk.
Milk is a complex brew of protein, fat, sugars and growth factors. After all, milk exists in nature to make baby mammals grow…fast. The protein components are many, but the two most well known are casein and whey. Casein is slower digesting while whey protein is broken down faster in the gut (part of the reason it’s used by athletes for recovery nutrition).
Folks with lactose intolerance sometimes don’t react to whey protein like they would to something like milk. Why? Most whey protein supplements are isolates, meaning they’ve been separated out from the rest of the milk components.
Even so, if you are strict Paleo, whey protein may not pass your test simply because it’s a component of dairy (even though the casein, lactose and other components have been stripped away).
Is Whey Protein Paleo? Argument #2:
Whey protein isn’t Paleo because it’s processed.
If you’re doing your best to avoid processed foods, then whey protein is probably off the list.
As described above, milk must be processed and treated to obtain the isolated whey component. Then, it’s usually sweetened (even with “natural” sweeteners like stevia) and may have other stabilizers or preservatives added.
Is whey protein even food? I’d argue no. It’s a component of food. A macromolecule if you will, consumed in isolation and devoid of the rest of the package it naturally comes with.
You can’t get anything from whey protein isolates that you can’t get from real food (read: meat).
Is Whey Protein Paleo? Argument #3:
Whey protein isn’t Paleo because most brands are made from low quality milk.
If you define your Paleo on a food quality basis, it’s easy to get confused here.
Some companies, including the brand of whey I use (when I use it) advertise that the cows their whey comes from are grass-fed. Sounds great and appeals directly to the Paleo crowd, but let’s examine this for a second.
When cows are fed on grass, the real benefit is in the fat component of the dairy (or meat). Grass-fed cows produce more vitamin K2 in their milk, more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) (reference) and a better ratio of anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids to pro-infammatory Omega-6 compared to their grain-fed counterparts (reference).
While that’s all well and good (and one reason I only eat grass-fed butter or ghee…go Kerrygold!) guess what? Whey protein is virtually fat free. That’s right. You get little direct nutritional benefit from buying a pricier grass-fed whey protein isolate.
Now, is there indirect benefit? I’d argue yes. If you are concerned about how the animals that produce your whey protein are raised or you want to invest your money in a smaller company that aligns to your personal philosophies, that’s perfectly fine. But grass-fed whey really holds no superiority from a protein perspective.
Is Whey Protein Paleo? Argument #4:
Whey protein is okay for Paleo athletes because nutrient timing matters.
Yes. Nutrient timing matters when you’re training hard. The demands some athletes place on ourselves is very high with back to back to back training sessions on consecutive days and (relatively) little rest. If your athletic goals are great and you’re asking superhuman things of yourself with the amount of beatdown you’re giving yourself, getting recovery started ASAP after your training session is critical.
This means a solid post-workout refeed of protein and carbs is critical for most athletes. You’ll also generally need more calories / energy than someone who is sedentary. Want to gain muscle mass? That’s right. You’ll need to take in more protein than someone just wanting to maintain theirs.
As a result, many athletes who are otherwise “Paleo” take whey protein because it’s faster digesting than a chunk of meat, releasing amino acids into the bloodstream quickly and making them available for muscle protein synthesis (reference). On the other hand, does spiking the concentration of amino acids quickly (which then falls quickly as it’s used for substrate), provide as much benefit as a slower-digesting protein (which then provides substrates for muscle protein synthesis for more hours to come)?
Drinking your protein (or calories for that matter) is also easier than physically chewing them so folks trying to mass gain or take down more calories may find whey protein shakes easier to handle. I regularly eat 1 gram protein per pound of bodyweight and even that is not an easy task for me. [Side note: this is why I often discourage people from taking in liquid foods if they’re trying to lose fat or improve body composition.]
Is Whey Protein Paleo? Argument #5: Using whey protein doesn’t make you “not Paleo.” It just means you’re using whey protein.
When you’re first starting out eating Paleo, you really need to do thirty days of strict eating to figure out what (if any) sensitivities you have to different foods (I recommend something like a Whole30). If not, you’ll never know. To this end, many Paleo books and websites advocate a hard-line, strict approach, even eschewing basic things like salt. Pretty extreme. Others are really liberal…cakes and cookies for days.
Why do strict Paleo advocates give whey protein a red light? It 1) isn’t a whole food; 2) isn’t as nutritious as whole food; and 3) may cause reactions in folks who are sensitive to dairy. It’s not because they want to be jerks or go against conventional wisdom.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what’s right for you based on your goals and context and if it fits into your version of Paleo or not. If you end up using whey protein, that’s your decision. You haven’t “failed at Paleo” or upset any imaginary Paleo gods. And as far as the Paleo police, you know how I feel about that.
If you’re trying to lose fat or not trying to gain muscle, my general advice is that you don’t need whey protein shakes. In fact, nobody needs whey protein. Period. It’s a factor of convenience, really.
What about me? Have I used whey protein?
Yes, at different points in my training I have used whey protein for convenience’s sake. When I was training for CrossFit Regionals, hitting demanding workouts 5 days a week, I routinely used it. I definitely had a bit more muscle mass (maybe the whey protein helped?) than I do now, but I’m also not in competition season now. The photo below is me competing in May 2013…my peak event for the year (admittedly, I look pretty jacked). I also knew full well that there isn’t anything in whey protein that food can’t supply.
Right now, I’ve switched gears to include more weightlifting and less CrossFit and while I continue to build strength, I don’t feel I need whey protein as my training demands aren’t the same as they were back then. In October, I wanted to see if I could PR my back squat while taking no protein supplements. On a three week Smolov Jr. program plus only whole foods, I put 4 kg on my all-time one-rep max, ending up with a 130 kg back squat.
You don’t need whey to get strong. You can get all your nutrition from real, whole foods. If you’re not an athlete, I strongly recommend against it.
If whey fits your athletic goals, you may decide to use it…even if you’re Paleo in all other aspects. Know why you’d use it. After all, knowledge is power.
Like what you’ve read? Sign up below to get a free chapter from my upcoming ebook, The Paleo Athlete.
More on this to come soon, but here is a simple diagram to help you remember general fueling recommendations for pre- and post-workout nutrition.
In short, for a pre-workout meal, stick to protein and fat while the post-workout window – ideally within 15-30 min of finishing your training – should focus on protein and carbs. Both have protein in common. If you’re into performance, adequate protein is a must.