How to Eat Healthy and Survive Thanksgiving

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How to Eat Healthy and Survive Thanksgiving
Written by: Coach Slater

Thanksgiving and food go hand in hand. This year, while being thankful for our families, friendships, and all of our other blessings, let’s also be thankful for a healthy body. Here are some tips on how you can enjoy Thanksgiving without feeling guilty at the end of the day.

Workout in the Morning
Start the day with exercise! Taking just 30min before your day gets too crazy can help you stay on track with your food, and give you a little more buffer for additional carbs that day. We’ve got classes at 9a, 10a, and 11a this Thanksgiving, so come in and start the day right!

Make It Yourself
If there’s something you *really* want to enjoy, but know your family’s way of making it isn’t the healthiest, then offer to bring it instead. That way, you know what’s in it, and you’ll take some stress off the host. For instance, spiced sweet potatoes with nutmeg and cinnamon rather than brown sugar. Prepare a few vegetable dishes, such as roasted Brussels sprouts, sautéed spinach and garlic, or an arugula salad. Use dried fruit for half the chocolate chips in cookies, or make some pumpkin or banana bread.

Game Plan the Menu
If you can’t make the items yourself, then map out the things that are completely off-limits, and the things that are safe. Set boundaries and stick to them. If you’re tempted to overeat because you won’t see these dishes for another year, then put a plate of food in the fridge to enjoy tomorrow. It will taste better when you’re able to savor each bite, rather than stuffing extra bites into an already full stomach.

Protein and Veggies
When all else fails, make sure the majority of your meals consist of lean protein and vegetables. Not only are these choices healthier, but they’re also filling, which will decrease the temptation to choose the less healthy options.

Pace Yourself
It’s easier to overeat when you eat quickly. Slow down your eating and you’ll be surprised how full you get on less food. Enjoy the conversations around the table and put the fork down in between bites.

Don’t Be Afraid to Say No
Remember when your parents made you finish everything on your plate and eat grandma’s cranberry sauces even though you hated it? You’re an adult now. You can say no. Resist the peer pressure to overeat. Grandma will be just fine.

Drink Water
This will help curb your appetite and keep you well-hydrated to minimize jet/travel lag. Try to avoid soda and alcohol because those calories add up quickly… Pint of beer = 150 calories, glass of wine = 200 calories, martini = 250 calories, margarita = 300-800 calories (depending how you make it), spiked eggnog = 400 calories.

Don’t Stress Out
Stressing out over food actually makes your body react worse to it. If you had a bad meal, eat better in the next one and get back on track. Don’t let one bad decision make you spiral out of control.

Keep Moving
Make a point to get up and move around every hour or so, even if it only includes some walking and stretching. Offer to walk the family dog. Challenge your younger cousins to a “death by burpees” contest. Staying active will keep you feeling good and burn off some extra calories.

Go the F*ck to Sleep
Holiday parties and family functions often result in late-nights and early-mornings. Sleep loss can make it harder to control your blood sugar, and when you’re sleep deprived, you’ll tend to eat more, and prefer high-fat, high-sugar food along the way. Aim for 7+ hours per night to guard against mindless eating.

Pre-Training Nutrition

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Pre-Training Nutrition
Written by: Coach Slater

Ever tell yourself that you’re going to hit your training session hard, but find you only have energy for a short period of time, maybe one or two sets of your strength work, or get halfway through the conditioning piece and feel like giving up? Your nutrition could be at fault.

Would you plan a roadtrip, but not fill your car up with gas beforehand? If so, you’re not going to get very far. Just like in training. Typically, an increased focus on pre- and intra-workout nutrition leads to better performance and faster recovery.

If you don’t fuel your body and prepare it for exercise, you won’t burn as many calories as you would on a full tank. The more energy you have, the longer your intensity will last. You’ll run faster and weight will feel lighter, all because you have a greater capacity to move quickly.

The harder you work, the more muscle cells you’ll damage. This means when you refuel your body post-training, you’ll have a greater opportunity to increase muscle mass. The more muscle mass you have, the faster your metabolism will be, and the more you can eat in the future.

Pretty straightforward, right?


So, as a general rule of thumb, the further you are away from a workout (2-3 hours or so) you want carbs that are lower on the glycemic index (GI) scale. As you get closer to the workout (60min or so before training) you can get away with having something higher on the GI scale. If you train super early in the AM, it’s a good idea to have some higher-GI carbs 15-30min before your workout so you’re not training on an entirely empty stomach. Some good higher-GI go-tos are a carb/protein shake (like Driven Glyco Drive & Whey Protein from the Front Desk), some white toast, raisins, or drink your carbs in the form of 100% juice or coconut water.

But even the most quickly-digesting carbs can take up to 30min to really enter the bloodstream in meaningful amounts. That means that the first part of your workout can feel sluggish. So, try your best to eat 1-3 hours beforehand!

Food Suggestions

These are some lower-GI foods you can eat 2-3hrs prior to training, which means the carb is digested slowly in order to give the body a nice sustained fuel source.

For example:
1. Muesli (carb) + Chobani no-fat plain Greek yogurt (protein) – add a tsp of honey if you don’t like the tart taste of the yogurt

2. Tuna/salmon/chicken breast (protein) sandwich on whole wheat bread (carb)

3. Whole wheat bagel (carb) + low-fat cottage cheese (protein)

4. Oats with oranges, honey, skim-milk and protein powder

5. Large piece of fruit (mango/banana/apple/pear) + a protein shake

If you’re not currently eating prior to training, then pick one of these options, have it an hour or two prior to exercise, and I guarantee you’ll see a big difference in your training session.

The Key to Weight Loss Success

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The Key to Weight Loss Success
Written by: Coach Evan

The Key to Weight Loss Success… is a clickbait title and this article is actually about The Key to Success with a Nutrition Program.

Ask people what the most difficult thing about staying on track with a nutrition program is and you will hear many different responses. “The weekdays are easy, but the weekends are tough”, or “training days are good, rest days’ suck”, or “When I’m on my own it’s fine but when I go out or eat with friends and/or family that’s when I seem to fall off,” are examples that I hear often. These might sound different but they all boil down to one similar characteristic: consistency. Following your plan religiously and unwaveringly is the hardest part of a nutrition program. The key is to prepare for obstacles and to be malleable when unforeseen circumstances pop up.

There are only a few true reasons why you can’t stick to a plan:

1) An emergency comes up, real or exaggerated, and there is no other option but to abandon your plan and eat unhealthy, or don’t eat at all. Neither option is ideal. Real emergencies are circumstances where it’s more important for you to deal with the emergency than focus on your nutrition plan. An exaggerated emergency might be that you’re out of food and you’re tired and it’s been a long day and it’s kinda late so the easiest thing is pizza and beer. Sorta sounds like the first…

2) You consciously choose not to, aka someone asks you to go get pizza and beer and you say screw it, let’s go.

3) You haven’t figured out a way around whatever obstacle is stopping you.

4) You don’t realize there is an obstacle in the first place.

There are so many ways to get around obstacles, and I’ll mention a few in a moment, but if you are following a nutrition program you also should recognize that situations like this are challenges and you will meet them in your journey all the time. You need to be ready to make changes depending on how well you can cope with these challenges.

Here is a conversation I have repeatedly with clients:

Me: How are things going?
Client: Well, I like to go out to eat with friends and family, and I also like to have a drink, and it’s hard to not go over on my macros.
Me: Absolutely it’s hard. You should consider cooking at home that way you can hit your macros spot on.
Client: Well, I’m really busy and I just don’t have time to cook or meal prep.

This is a perfect example of not realizing there is an obstacle in the first place: habits that are holding you back. Finding the time to meal prep is a topic for another article called, “it’s easier than you think,” but if you aren’t willing to sacrifice eating out then you aren’t ready for a nutrition program. And I even think it’s ok to eat out once a week…

Let’s talk about how to prepare for roadblocks; how to be ready for unideal situations.

A) One of the easiest ways to prepare is to meal prep.

Make your food for the week, package it up, and be ready to go. Commit to eating it, even when other options come up. Even when your family wants hamburgers, even when your friends want to go out for a drink. You don’t even have to meal prep if you take advantage of Bite Meals or some other catering service and create a special order tailored to your nutrition plan. The point is be ready and stick to your plan.

B) When your friends offer to go out, you can go, have a good time, but you don’t need a beer with dinner, and you don’t need the burrito as big as your head.

It may not be fun. Maybe you have to order the salad and then eat something at home that better fits your plan to make it work. This is about commitment and sacrifice, not everything will be perfect or easy.

C) Being overly prepared is important. These situations shouldn’t throw a wrench in the works. It might sound like a lot of work and planning but this is a lifestyle change we’re talking about; this is a life-long dream for some people. You better be ready to plan and work hard.

What if your power goes out and you can’t cook? Know the healthy restaurants and grocery stores in your area so you can go to them when you’re in a bind.

What if you work later than you planned and all of the healthy stores and restaurants are closed? Keep a healthy already-made-meal in the fridge at home just in case.

D) Create a support system with your coach, friends, and family.

Don’t be afraid to utilize that support system, that’s what they are there for. Ask for their advice, ask them to help you plan, ask them to help you get through a moment of weakness when all you want is a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.

You can get a perfect set of macros and write out your meals and snacks and shakes and fit them perfectly to your program but if you aren’t prepared for the curveballs life throws at you then you can throw that plan away. You can’t lose 15lbs just because you want to, you have to seriously commit and be ready to work. Whether you’re in the middle of a nutrition program or thinking about starting one, you need to be ready to make a big commitment and be ready for sacrifice.

On a lighter note, what was the charge when NaCl was arrested?

A salt.

Prioritizing Your Priorities

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Prioritizing Your Priorities
Written by: DCCF-er Phil Newton

You won’t make it very far in life without establishing some priorities. Some prioritization in life takes care of itself for you. Bills gotta get paid, so I better have a way to make money to pay them. I’ve got to survive, so I better eat, sleep, and breathe. But those priorities that life sorts for you very seldom contribute in a meaningful way to your happiness or your health. Here’s a few things I’d encourage you to consider when you evaluate your priorities you can control.

Know this before you venture further dear reader; THERE ARE NO JUDGEMENTS HERE. What you choose to make more important in regards to your fitness and your health are yours to make. Obviously, we all want the best for our friends and family here at Derby City, but we would never dream of regulating your life and impose our priorities upon you. (Although we may occasionally nudge you toward healthier habits out of pure love and genuine care.)


There’s really no debate that eating a healthier diet comprised of whole foods, with high nutritional value is miles above eating processed foods that line the supermarket shelves. Everyone has different nutrition needs, but a healthier diet trumps an unhealthy one 100 times out of 100. It’s a fact. Now what I’m about to say is going to probably throw you off a bit, so perk up those ears.


Here’s the catch! If you prioritize the desire for an inefficient diet over your goals of fitness or health, then the higher priority will ALWAYS win. On the scale of life you can’t stack the deck to one side and expect it to balance out. Just won’t happen. If that’s what makes you happy, then your priorities are in line, and you’re doing well. If you find yourself upset with your stagnation in fitness and you aren’t making the effort to tip the balance of your priority toward better nutrition, I’m afraid you won’t ever find the results that you are after. So maybe your priority isn’t to eat 100% clean, and gosh damn it, you want to have a Hi-Five donut for breakfast every morning. I guarantee that if you allow yourself that concession and still try to improve your diet in ways that you can maintain and remain dedicated to, you will improve.

A diet that is 80% effective you can stick to 100% of the time is always going to be better than a 100% effective diet that you can only stick to 20% of the time. Be honest with yourself, and you’ll see results.

Will it be as much as someone who weighs and measures their food, and eats a more strict regimented diet? Absolutely not. But that’s their priority to sacrifice the sweets for the result, and their priorities are not yours.


Here is another area where priorities are important, but I think every single member of Derby City has been guilty of this lack of forethought at least once in their tenure as a CrossFitter. We all want to hit that big lift, or do that sexy gymnastic movement to post on the net and soak up all that sweet sweet internet adoration. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. I’ll double tap that on Instagram all day long. There’s a conflict here however. In our pursuit of chasing down these goals and making the attainment of them our priority we lose focus on what should be most important. GETTING. BETTER. EVERY. DAMN. DAY.

Here’s a totally hypothetical situation that I’ve absolutely never seen in real life at the gym…

Athlete – “I want to get better at pullups.”
Coach – “Ok, glad to help! Here’s what we’ll do, let’s work on some progressions and build up that strength and get you some pullups!
Athlete – “Nope, I’m gonna go over here and kip on the bar for 45 minutes. SEE YA NERD.”

Eventually our imaginary athlete here may get pullups. But by prioritizing the end goal over the work that would get them there, they will never be as good at pullups as someone who did the very unsexy work of grinding through all those little movements to make the whole thing better.


How many times have you heard, “That looks so fun, but…” or “I wish I could, but…” or the old standby, “Oh I always wanted to do X, but…”. The part that follows the but doesn’t ever matter, because just like everything that follows a butt, it is either hot air or shit. How many times have you said something similar yourself?

By making a statement like that you are effectively giving priority to the negative thing that is preventing you from grabbing life by the horns. Sure, life may not hand you an easy way to go, but if something is truly important to you, and you REALLY have the desire to do it, how are you gonna let a silly three letter word like “but” get between you and your dream?

I challenge you to drop your “Buts” and try from time to time to evaluate your priorities. Not only in the gym, but life in general. You want that Icelandic vacation next summer? Well, what will you need to shuffle to make that work? Less dinners out? Sell some old junk in the garage you don’t need any more?

You control your priorities. Make them make you better.

How to Win Our Next Transformation Challenge

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How to Win Our Next Transformation Challenge
Written by: Coach Slater

Let’s do a quick recap of what we saw in the Summer Transformation challenge and how we can kick even more ass later this year during our Winter Transformation challenge.

Our females saw the greatest improvements in body fat, losing around 3% from their starting numbers. However, their muscle gains were mostly flat during the two month challenge. The men were similarly flat in their muscle gains, adding just 1% overall; but, they had some dramatic body fat loss. They lost over 11% from their starting levels, an average of 2lbs of body fat. To understand how much that is, the picture below is just ONE pound of body fat.

The men lost TWO cans of tomatoes!

So, if the key to winning the Winter Transformation challenge is adding muscle and losing two cans of tomatoes in body fat, let’s determine how that happens. And, we’ll start by discussing macronutrients.

Because our programming tends to be “strength based”, you’ll need more protein than if you were a spin-cycle bunny or 5lb dumbbell aerobic class devotee. An easy place to start with protein, is 1g per pound of bodyweight. If you’re not there currently, then at least get yourself to 0.8g x bodyweight. If this number is a lot higher than what you’re eating currently, then I recommend slowly ramping up to that number by adding 15-20g of protein each week so your digestive system has time to adjust.

Your body type and current level of body fat make a difference in how much or how little fat you should consume daily. Being a member at Derby City, I assume you have an an athletic build or some athletic history, so you only require about 25% of fat in your diet. If you are a little heavier at the moment and looking for a bigger fat loss, I’d recommend bumping this up to 30% (or possibly even 35%) and decreasing the remaining carbs. On the other hand, if you’re relatively lean already, then I’d lower this number to 20% and have you eating a shitload of carbs.

To put easy math to those percentages, I specifically recommend 0.35g x bodyweight for the “25% person” in this scenario. 0.4g or 0.45g x bodyweight for someone who currently has a high body fat level. And, 0.3g x bodyweight for someone who’s already lean. If you’re trying to lean out, eating high protein and high fat is usually the recommended route; one simple reason is because protein & fat make you feel fuller, longer. So, you don’t feel the need to eat mindlessly throughout the day.

Now that we’ve decided your protein and fat, carbs are determined based on the calories you have remaining in your total daily energy expenditure. You can figure out your own numbers here, or let me give you a “loose” guideline: 2.0g x bodyweight on training days, and 1.0g x bodyweight on rest days. Aim to take in 50% of your total daily carbs during the window 90min prior, during, and 90min post-workout. We would fine-tune those generalities if you were asking for personalized nutrition coaching from us, but this is a reasonable ballpark to start from.

Other Tips
I highly recommend you pick a day to cook meals for the rest of the week, so you always have food and aren’t forced to make last-minute decisions when you’re hungry. Alternatively, buy pre-made meals from Bite Meals, a local meal-preparation service sourced from Creation Gardens, and use the discount code “DCCF” for 10% off. Meals are dropped off at Derby City every Thursday afternoon.

Don’t stress out over the exact macros. Instead, try to be close when you first start out. Stress is actually counterproductive to your physique goals, so don’t freak out if you miss a macro here or there.

With our high-intensity training program, you may find that you benefit from going a little higher carb and a little lower fat on training days. As a result, you may find that you’ll lean out further, to better show off those highly defined muscles, while coincidentally feeling like you have more energy in the gym. That’s a win-win.

Changing your lifestyle takes time. Everyone’s natural metabolism is different, so it may take a month or so of tweaking your numbers to find what’s optimal for you.

The point of this article is to help you make healthy nutrition a lifestyle and take away the stress of a restrictive diet. Your nutrition can be strict, but it shouldn’t be restrictive. Give your body the fuel it needs and it’ll respond accordingly.

Cheat Sheet for Summer Transformation

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Cheat Sheet for Summer Transformation
Written by: Coach Slater

Nutrition can seem overwhelming. One article tells you this, another one tells you that. The reality is that there isn’t one right way to eat, and the only person who truly knows what works best is YOU based on how you feel inside and out, what works with your lifestyle, etc… and that nutrition plan will change over time. Changing a program is not only essential, but inevitable, to continue toward your goals. But, here are four simple guidelines to get you started on your summer transformation. In later weeks, I’ll come back with some more specifics to help you fine-tune your approach.

1. Eat Real Foods
This is 80% of the battle, and this alone solves sooo much. If you haven’t figured this out yet and are worrying about Juice Cleansing, Intermittent Fasting, Neuron Velocity, or whatever the hell else, then you’re missing the point. Those are “…just details, not big picture items.” Buy more food from the outer rim at your local grocer. Only dive into the aisles for whole wheat items, rice, olive oils, etc.. There’s also a time and place for fruit, but as Gary Taubes has said, “If you’re overweight, fruit is not your friend.”

Make most of your food choices based around natural foods, but don’t become neurotic and believe that Fruity Pebbles or a Pop-Tart now and then is going to kill you or make you fat overnight. Likewise, don’t think they’re the same things as broccoli or sweet potatoes.

2. Eat For Your Goal
If you need to lose fat, you need a calorie deficit. So, eat until satisfied, not until full. If you need to gain weight/mass, you need a calorie surplus. So, you may have to get used to eating to an uncomfortable state for awhile. And, if you’re eating for performance AND body composition, then the timing of your carb intake needs to be around your training, with fats coming at other times of the day.

Ultimately, the best diet is the one that you can apply on a consistent basis that promotes good health, increases lean mass, promotes fat loss, and doesn’t cause you to end up with some kind of eating disorder. A diet is only as good as your consistency with it. Despite all we know through science, and even through anecdotal evidence, people have to find their own way. Most of the time, especially when it comes to eating/dieting/nutrition, the best answers usually fall somewhere in the area of moderation. Eat some carbs, some good fats, get your protein in. Reduce calories to lose some fat, eat some extra calories to build some muscle.

3. Do More on Your Rest Days
Resting three days a week? Don’t just sit around on those days. Get up and go for a bike ride, a hike thru the woods, or come to the gym and find people to play some games of Spikeball. To lose weight, you want to increase your total calorie burn each day, and one way to do that is simply be more active every day by increasing your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure). Evan has also written about how high intensity workouts like we do at Derby City are much better for fat loss than long, slow, distance running.

4. Meal Prep
“Food Prep” can make a night & day difference with your nutrition. It doesn’t mean you have to prepare EVERY meal for EVERY day of the week, but a little can go a long way. Maybe you just cook some animal protein ahead of time since they take up so much time usually, and cook some vegetables or carbs through the week. Invest in some glass Pyrex containers (they’re always on sale at Kroger) and stop making the excuse of “I just need to prep my food. I catch myself stuck without prepared food.” You are in control, and delicious comfort food will always be around for you if you want them, but you’re making a conscious decision as to how much, when, and how often you have such foods. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!

Is the Comp Class Right for You?

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Is the Comp Class Right for You?
Written by: DCCF-er Phil Newton

As summer creeps in and everyone is on that mad dash to finalize that hot beach bod to show off on the ‘gram, I have had a few people ask me about the Comp Class and what it’s done for me. I’ve been doing the extra programming for a solid year now, and I can tell you, it pays off. With that being said; I can’t say that it’s right for you. There are a few questions you should ask yourself before you dive into the additional programming:

1. Are you going to the gym consistently? 4-5 days a week minimum?

If the answer to that question is no, then stop reading this article and get sweaty in a class! Doing more work on fewer days is not going to get you the results you want.

“Pfft, whatever Phil, I’m always up in there getting my fitness on.”

Well alright then chief, buuuuuuut…

2. Are you consistently hitting the workouts each day you train with high intensity?

You should be giving everything you have in the normal classes before adding additional programming. The class workouts are enough, if you have the desire to push yourself for the hour you are in the gym each day. Hit the sport weight, do the extra rounds, push yourself to do the difficult movements that you avoid. Give everything you have in class and you might just see that you don’t have the energy for extra work.

You may have seen a post I made on the DCCF Social Page during regionals about Max Bragg, the guy who made it to the East Regional and competed against Mat Fraser (You know who he is) and held his own. Well, he only did affiliate programming and look how far he got! Trust me, that dude is fitter than you.

You may be saying, “But Phil, obviously he’s a genetic freak with a job that supports his fitnessing!”

Well, you’re right, but before you think adding more work will get you where you want to be ask yourself this…

3. Is your nutrition dialed in?

If you’re eating a Whizzburger and a chocolate shake for dinner after you leave the gym every night, you’re not going to fuel yourself with the energy that you’ll need for high volume. I’m not saying you have to go strict paleo or get out the scale every time that you’re sitting down for lunch to weigh out if that extra bean sprout in your kale salad is gonna ruin your macros, but you should be mindful of the things you are putting into your body.

So, your nutrition is good, you’re hitting it with intensity, and you’re hitting it often. Surely that’s it, right? Au contraire…

4. Are. You. Recovering!?!?!

This is probably the most important step and it’s often the most overlooked. Are you taking the time to do mobility work outside of the class? Are you taking care of nagging injuries? Are you getting enough sleep? There’s a lot to consider about how much stress your putting your body through.

If you aren’t treating your time outside the gym as just as important to your training, you will see diminished results inside the gym.

If you’re nailing all the first four points, then I just have one last question for you.

5. Why?

This is a question that I ask when people say they need extra programming and almost always I get the same response.

“I want to get better/stronger/faster.” I support that decision 100%, that’s why we all show up in the first place. What you should think about is, why is this extra programming going to be the element that gets you there? Slater had a great article a while back about goals and habits that is really worth a read if you missed it.

So what goal will this extra programming help you achieve that would not be accomplished from the regular class? You want to work on additional skills under fatigue to help your chances in upcoming competitions? Yep, that’s a good reason. You want to get your bi’s and tri’s lookin’ sweet for the honeys out on the lake? A little less so. Be specific in your goals with the extra work, because it IS WORK.

The extra accessory pieces are tough, and if you aren’t ready to suffer, you’re not going to get anything out of them. But if you’re ready to sweat a lot, cry a little, and work hard; then I’ll see ya in there. I’ll be the guy almost throwing up coming off the assault bike.

Comp Class runs Mon, Tues, Wed at 5:30p & 6:30p; and Fri at 5:30p.

Nutrition Isn’t Black & White

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Nutrition Isn’t Black & White
Written by: Coach Slater

Nutrition isn’t black and white because our bodies aren’t black and white. They have lots of ways to accomplish the same purposes. What works for me, might not work for you. Intermittent fasting? Eating six meals per day? Post-workout supplement regiments? Many people rave about these practices, while others don’t have any success with any of them.

It’s not that those things don’t make a difference; it’s that, if they do make a difference, the difference is probably small. They’re small because they’re just details, not big-picture items. But, they’re sexy and get a lot of clicks.

Calorie intake, protein intake, and training volume seem to be regarded as the most important factors determining your body composition. They’re the big picture. Just outside that picture are training intensity and training specificity. Everything else is just details. Our bodies are extremely complex, with redundant systems in place, so many of those small details only have a trivial effect. So, if you want to tackle the most important factors affecting your body composition, focus on those first three items.

As far as caloric intake, body size, body composition, and activity level are the primary factors in determining your calorie needs. But, keep in mind that we’re pretty bad at gauging our activity level and effort. Most of us think we’re more active than we really are, and train harder than we really do. There are thousands of different sites for determining your caloric needs, but I like this one from Healthy Eater.

With protein intake, 0.8g/lb is a good number to start with for protein consumption. Basically, just make sure you’re eating enough of it, space it out throughout the day (whether in 3 meals or 6), and get it from high-quality sources like lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs and whey. Simple.

For training volume, I tell people that attending class 3x/week is good for “breaking even”, 4x/week is when you see changes, and 5x/week is when you see life-altering change (as long as your caloric intake and protein intake are on par). Attend 6x/week or 7x/week and you might dethrone Megan “Megatron” Courtney for best attendance. But, as you increase your training volume, be sure you’re spending more time on your recovery: sleep, hydration, nutrition, positioning (or posture or joint centration), stretching, self-myofascial release, heat, ice, and compression.

If you aren’t satisfied with the results of your nutrition, don’t be afraid to play around with it. If you’re trying to cut or lose weight, don’t immediately assume you need to drop calories lower. Play around with “when” you eat your carbs, or move the bulk of your calories to one or two meals, or try carb/protein and fat/protein meals instead of mixed meals (or vice versa), or move more calories around your workout (especially carbs), or run a higher surplus on training days and a larger deficit on rest days, etc…

Supplements: What & Why

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Supplements: What & Why
Written by: Coach Slater

We’ve made the switch from Stronger, Faster, Healthier to Driven Nutrition for our in-house supplements. We went from stocking only a couple things to having EIGHT options. Let’s quickly breakdown what everything is and why you should consider taking it.

First, let me say that getting to the point where you RELY on stimulants to perform each day in the gym is a negative. You’re better served by using PreWOD stimulants sparingly for special circumstances and work on improving your focus and positive self-talk to perform at your peak day-in, day-out at the gym. That said, if you’re looking for a pre-workout, the most effective ingredients are caffeine (or its derivatives) and some form of anti-inflammatory (like aspirin). Beta-Alanine is interesting to me because it’s been linked to decreases in muscle fatigue. The downside is that Driven’s PreWOD doesn’t specifically quantify how much Beta-Alanine is present in it, and it appears to be under 5gm, which is the generally agreed upon amount where this decrease in muscle fatigue occurs. So… while they’re a little short there, the real boost you’re looking for is from caffeine anyway. TLDR? Buy it if you need a jolt from time-to-time.

Creatine is one of the best known and most studied supplements in history, as well as one of the most misunderstood. Creatine increases the amount of creatine phosphate in your cells, thereby increasing the amount of energy available to fuel muscle contraction, thereby increasing the work capacity of a muscle. So, it will extend energy bursts, giving you enough strength for one extra rep when you need it, or maintain that sprint pace slightly longer before fading. All the wives tales about water retention are bogus, so there’s really no reason NOT to take it. There can be minor stomach discomfort by taking too much, so stick to the scoop provided. Also, don’t worry about “loading” when you start taking it or even cycling off it. Simply put, take it and become stronger.

GlycoDrive / Cyclic Dextrin
Our workouts are long and intense, so supplementing with carbs in your Pre- or Intra-WOD shake can keep you fueled throughout. I like to recommend cyclic dextrin because of how quickly it clears the gut, so you don’t feel like you have a full stomach while working out. Plus, studies have proven that cyclic dextrin has a significantly greater impact on your rate of perceived exertion (how easy the weight feels) compared to alternatives, and considering that you’re probably not taking ANYTHING pre- or mid-workout, then imagine how much better this would make you feel? One thing to note: if you’re calculating your macronutrients for gaining lean muscle mass or losing body fat, cyclic dextrin does count as a carb. So, you can overdo it, like you can overdo other carbs; but, for those interested in supplementing with carbs to improve your performance, cyclic dextrin is the way to go. I could go on about why you should add carbs pre- and intra-, and about having a meal 30min post-workout, and about how waiting too long blunts your muscles’ sensitivity to glucose, but you knew that already. 😉

We’ve already told you why you should consume carbs and protein post-workout, right? Well, this just does all the thinking for you by combining both in one tub. Easy, right? If you’re new to carb-supplementation and don’t like mixing protein with Gatorade, then start with this stuff.

Aminos / BCAAs
For endurance athletes (read: anyone looking to do a mini- or full-marathon in 2017), BCAA’s can be tremendously helpful. Several studies have noted its anti-fatigue effects and increased time to exhaustion in intermediate-level athletes (which is all of us). But, if I’m you, I supplement with Cyclic Dextrin *first*, if deciding between BCAA’s and the former. However, if you’re working out fasted in the mornings or on a Saturday, you might consider adding this to your regiment.

5lb Grass Fed Whey Protein
Generally speaking, this is just a great protein. It’s got a combo of Whey Concentrate and Whey Isolate, it’s from grass-fed cows, and it includes some additional BCAAs. Some blend of Whey Concentrate is generally perfect for everyone at Derby City because you’re only doing one WOD a day. You’d generally only look at Whey Isolate if you’re working out twice a day. Over all, protein increases lean muscle mass, and increasing your lean muscle mass increases the caloric demands of your body, thereby helping you lose body fat, so would you not want to supplement with whey?

2lb Natural Whey
This is just a SUPER-clean version of the 5lb from above, at a higher price. Why higher? Because it has no sweeteners (sucralose) or artificial flavors. It’s good option for people who want an extremely clean version of the 5lb option. If you haven’t previously used whey protein, start with the 5lb tub. When your nutrition is dialed in, then we can talk about going to this cleaner version.

Casein Protein
Casein is a slow-absorbing protein and can take hours for the body to absorb it. For that reason, casein is generally recommended for shakes prior to bed, not for immediately upon waking or post-workout. When you drink it, it coagulates in the stomach, slowly releasing amino acids into your blood stream over the course of several hours. So, add it to your pre-bed routine (maybe with some coconut oil to further slow absorption) and watch yourself gain more muscle.

What Happens After Your Newbie Gainz Stall (and when under-eating no longer works)

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What Happens After Your Newbie Gainz Stall (and when under-eating no longer works)
Written by: Coach Slater

Newbie Gainz
When you first start at Derby City, it’s almost a guarantee to PR every time you step in the gym. In the first 8 months, you’re gaining muscle and losing body fat at a crazy pace. You’re exposing your body to new stimulus, learning new techniques every single day, and your body is physiologically adapting as a result. It’s easy to get caught in the trap of thinking that these gainz will continue in a linear fashion forever. You’re going to clean a gazillion pounds in six months, or you’re going to win the CrossFit Games in two years.

What’s happening in this newbie phase is called neurological adaptation, which means that you are causing a large number of neurons to fire rapidly in a more synchronized way, enabling you to rapidly lift heavier weights. So, your muscles aren’t necessarily growing yet, you’re just training your nervous system to create more efficient pathways. After your body begins to cement the neurological adaptations, then you’re able to push yourself harder and harder, triggering muscular adaptations, which is when muscles grow and get stronger. That’s why it’s important to focus on technique when just beginning, so you’re not neurologically adapted in poor positions. You want to give your body the ideal opportunity for future growth when those newbie gainz slow, to not create muscular imbalances by recruiting the wrong muscles in a particular movement.

So, when your typical neurological adaptations slow (aka, your newbie gainz stall), you begin to rely on muscular adaptations. This is the phase where discipline and dedication are needed, because you’re no longer setting new PR’s every time you walk in the gym. It “feels” like you’re flat-lining, but you’re not. You’ve just progressed to the next inevitable step in your training evolution. Now is when you need to find discipline to stay consistent with your workout frequency, nutrition, sleep, and stress reduction. Whereas you were once focused on achievement every time you first walked in the door… “first pullup, first bodyweight back squat, first snatch over whatever pounds”… you need to discipline yourself to focus on “progress” now. Achievement is so ingrained in our culture that we often ignore progress. But, you’re in this for the long haul, right? Now’s when you prove it with discipline and consistency. That’s what you do when you newbie gainz stall.

Ruining Your Newbie Gainz
Let’s go back to the beginner phase I mentioned earlier to talk about how you could be hurting your future progress by undereating. You can make gainz in that neurological adaptation / beginner phase while in a caloric deficit. You could come into Derby City, undereating because you think that’s what you have to do to maintain the body you want, while actually doing damage to yourself, and still make gainz. You could eat only 500 calories a day and still PR your back squat every week because your brain is just learning to do the movements efficiently. You haven’t really hit overload yet. But… when you finally do hit that point, you’re going to regress and you’re not going to like it. Now you’re under-recovered and going into a negative hormone state. Maybe you’re wondering why that awesomeness couldn’t last forever? Well, you have to adapt. What works today isn’t going to work next year.

This is the first time your body has done this kind of training, and your body doesn’t know any better than to adapt. Now the next bikini season rolls around and you think, “Well, 1,000 calories worked last year. Let’s do 800 calories this year.” But, you find that you can’t lose weight, or worse yet, you gain weight. Your body learned to create homeostasis at 1,000 calories, so there’s no longer a caloric deficit which will work. Your body is going to remember the stimulus that took you into adrenal fatigue and it’s not going to allow you to get there again. So, typically, you dig harder and add more volume via running or extra “cardio” outside of the gym, without fixing the real issue related to your recovery/nutrition. You’ve metabolically adapted to undereating and now you have to start from scratch to reteach your body how to eat and produce.

So, using this theoretical 1,000 calorie human, they can’t just start eating 2,200 calories tomorrow, like maybe they should have been doing the entire time. What if they’ve been eating 1,000 calories/daily for years now? Well, if they start eating 2,200 calories now, they’re going to gain weight incredibly quickly and lose trust in the process. Instead, they need to slowly adjust by gradually increasing calories, basically starting a metabolic repair program. Specifically, I suggest keeping your protein intake constant at around 0.8g/lb of bodyweight and adding 5-10% to your total carbs and total fats each week until you get to a “more reasonable” total number of macronutrients based on your lean muscle mass, body fat, and activity level. I like to suggest Carbs at 0.5g/lb of bodyweight for Off Days, 1.0g/lb for Easy Days where you’re moving slowly just trying to get loose for the day, and 1.5g/lb for Moderate Days at Derby City where you’re working hard, getting in a good sweat, etc… I typically hold beginners and intermediate athletes to “Moderate Days” and never progress to Heavy Days or something higher, because honestly, most people overestimate how hard they’re working.

Bringing It Home
To summarize, let me say that you needn’t be disappointed when those newbie gainz slow. It’s a natural part of your progress, and it marks the point in your fitness development where you need to learn discipline. Working out, eating right, and sleeping well should become a part of your daily regiment, just like brushing your teeth, showering, and going to work. I included “eating right” because you could be harming your future progress by messing up your nutrition during this beginner phase. In reality, I should have said “eating right” before anything else, because nutrition should be at the base of your fitness pyramid. It’s importance can’t be overstated. If your newbie gainz stall completely, the answer is always the same: you’re not eating enough, and you’re not recovering. Recovery is made possible by food and sleep. Set yourself on a path for future success.

Predicting metabolic adaptation, body weight change, and energy intake in humans”, Hall, Kevin.

Changes in Energy Expenditure with Weight Gain and Weight Loss in Humans”, Muller, MJ.

The Truth About Metabolic Damage”, Teta, Dr. Jade.