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.

Quick Thoughts on Cheat Meals and Post-Workout Carbs

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Quick Thoughts on Cheat Meals and Post-Workout Carbs
Written by: Coach Slater

Cheat Meals
Cheat meals are a common occurrence that we see justified by everyone at some point or another. Personally, I tend to utilize a “cheat meal” on a general day of under-eating, so my cheating is actually just me catching up on the macronutrients I was supposed to be having anyway… just in a slightly dirtier form, like a triple-cheeseburger. In that way, I’m not really eating a cheat meal. Most people aren’t doing that though. They’re eating these cheat meals on top of whatever other food they’re already consuming.

When you’re on a Derby City nutrition plan, cheat meals aren’t bad per se; but, if they’re a physiological urge, then it may be time for a 1-to-2 week resettling of your nutrition plan where you stop trying to lose weight during that time, then get back to your detailed macro plan afterwards. A resettling period is where you aren’t as stringent with your macros, and allow your body to temporarily “settle” at your new bodyweight. That doesn’t give you the right to go crazy during this time, but our bodies do tend to reach settling points and there’s some evidence that spending some time at each settling point is good, before restarting your nutrition plan of either cutting or bulking. This strategy seems to keep your metabolism working most efficiently.

Psychologically, some people love cheat meals and it helps them de-stress, allowing them to come back after the cheat meal and hit their nutrition plan hard again for another two weeks before allowing in another cheat meal. But for others, a cheat meal screws with their routine, results in crazy cravings, makes them feel guilty during the meal itself, and gets them thinking about their next cheat meal. The majority of people seem to be in this second group. In that case, I recommend staying true to the plan without cheating, while maybe going up in carbs a little for a day to increase glycogen and reduce fatigue, then getting back to work. Otherwise, cheat meals can be too detrimental psychologically.

Post-Workout Carbs
Eating the majority of your carbs post-workout, as opposed to other times of the day, is a common rule-of-thumb as it leads to greater muscle growth, via a mechanism known as anabolism, and it helps with greater glycogen replacement so you can go hard again in your next workout. And, by making these post-workout carbs high-glycemic (fast-burning), you’ll jack up your insulin to further aid this anabolism and glycogen replenishment. You want to avoid fats post-workout as they counteract the high-glycemic carbs you just ate, delaying digestion so those nutrients can’t enter your bloodstream as rapidly.

“But wait,” you say, “I’m trying to lose weight, not get huge!” Doesn’t matter. Eating carbs post-workout not only leads to greater muscle gain, but also greater fat loss. So, when I cut carbs from your daily nutrition plan, I don’t cut them from your post-workout window. These are the last ones to go, in fact. When aiming to lose body fat, I want to cut your fat intake first, to maybe as low as 0.3g/bodyweight, not your carbs.

Gatorade is an easy post-workout carb (52g per bottle, sold at the Front Desk), but I’ve also recommended dextrose and/or cyclic-dextrin for some of the Derby City gentlemen really needing to up their carb intake. For the ladies, 52g of carbs might be more than you want from purely a liquid source. So, you might consider mixing Gatorade powder with water to better control the amount of carbs you’re drinking, and then get a real meal with cereal or rice to hit the rest of your post-workout carb needs.

1. “Set points, settling points and some alternative models: theoretical options to understand how genes and environments combine to regulate body adiposity“, Speakerman, J, et al. Dis Model Mech. 2011 Nov; 4(6): 733–745.

2. “Carbs: The Training Fuel“, Israetel, M. Juggernaut Strength.

What’s the Deal with Different Whey Proteins?

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What’s the Deal with Different Whey Proteins?
Written by: Coach Slater

Quick post to answer a question I’ve overhead about whey proteins: “What’s the difference between whey concentrate, whey isolate, and whey hydrolysate?”

First, there’s major marketing dollars behind protein supplements, so brands may want you to believe that one or the other is far superior. In reality, the differences in absorption rates seem to be extremely minute, so it doesn’t appear that there’s really a difference between any of them. All three can result in muscle growth, but there are some differences in lactose, fat, and carb content.

Whey Concentrate
This version is typically 80% protein by weight, and contains some carbs (in the form of lactose) and fat. It’s generally the cheapest whey protein out there.

Whey Isolate
This version is more than 90% protein by weight, so you get more protein per scoop compared to the Concentrate. One version of isolate is called “ion exchange” which just means it’s lost some important recovery substances during production. The other version of isolate is “cross-flow microfiltration” which maintains some integrity during production and is more easily digestible with essentially no carbs or fat.

Whey Hydrolysate
This version is predigested so it will absorb faster into your bloodstream compared to the other two, but how much faster is up for debate, and since you only workout once a day, it probably doesn’t even matter. Nonetheless, this supposed speed increase is the primary reason it costs more than the other versions.

Bottom Line
As long as you don’t mind the few extra grams of carbs and fat, and you’re not lactose intolerant, whey concentrate is the most economical choice for you. The protein we sell at Derby City, from Stronger Faster Healthier, is a whey concentrate made from grass-fed cows. Is the fact that it’s grass-fed important for your whey protein? Frankly, not really… but, until we find a better protein alternative, we trust SFH and trust that each scoop gets you the amount of protein it says you’re getting – which we can’t say with every brand.

We Don’t Do 30-Day Challenges (and a Sample Macronutrient Meal Plan)

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We Don’t Do 30-Day Challenges (and a Sample Macronutrient Meal Plan)
Written by Coach Slater

At Derby City, we don’t do 30 Day Challenges. We don’t because they’re usually selling something like Shredz Army or some other gimmick, they don’t create a lasting change to your lifestyle or nutrition habits, and because they just suck in general. Unfortunately, we see that females are most susceptible to these challenges, so this article is aimed at our female members… to give you a sample look at what “Macronutrient-based Nutrition” looks like.

I’m going to write out a macronutrient guideline and sample meals based on a female who’s approximately 5’7” and 155lbs, late-20s, is moderately active (works out at moderate intensity 3-5 days/week), is looking to lose weight, and wants to improve her body composition (lose fat). I have nooooo way to justify saying this statement, but I feel like the female I just described is probably somewhere in the middle of every female at Derby City. The info that follows would obviously be adjusted based on your height, weight, lean muscle mass, body fat percentage, activity level (important!), etc… but, I hope this info gives you a ballpark to start a conversation. We want you to make lasting changes to your nutrition; not do a 30 Day Challenge and then fall back off the wagon on Day 31.

Based on the female I’ve described, I’d start her out at the following on training days. This is probably more carbs than she’s used to on training days, and quite possibly more food in general. As she adjusts, and as we get the Rest Day nutrition in control, we may find that further raising the carbs further improves her performance in the gym:
Carbs: 230g
Protein: 155g
Fat: 57g

On her rest days, I’d tell her to cut out 50-100g of carbs from her day and keep protein & fat roughly similar to a training day for now. We may find that we’d like to further decrease the carbs and possibly bump the fat a little more on rest days, but we may have to wait to see how the plan unfolds. The goal is to be at a caloric deficit on rest days. So, to start, her macronutrients could look something like:
Carbs: 155g
Protein: 155g
Fat: 62g

Because our programming tends to be “weightlifting based”, you’ll need more protein than if you were one of these spin-cycle bunnies or 5lb dumbbell aerobic class wives. (I say that lovingly.) And, because you’re looking to lose weight, I’m writing the protein a little “high” at 1g per 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 20g of protein a week so your digestive system has time to adjust.

Your body type and current level of body fat can make a difference in how much or how little fat you should consume daily. I assumed that the mystery female in question has an athletic build or athletic history, so she only requires about 25% of fat in her diet. If you are a little heavier individual, I’d recommend bumping this up to 30% (or possibly even 35%) and decreasing the remaining carbs.

Carbs are determined after figuring out your protein and fat, by multiplying something called your Base Metabolic Rate (BMR) by your activity level to determine your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) and then subtracting your Protein and Fat kcals. HUH?!?! Look, that last part is a little complex, so I just recommend you get an estimate of your own Training Day macros by visiting this Macro Calculator.

Sample Meal Plan for Training Day
Egg sandwich with 2 whole eggs + 2 egg whites scrambled on 2 slices of wheat toast
16oz of black coffee with 1 tsp of coconut oil

1 grilled chicken breast with 1 cup of Brussel sprouts and 1 medium-sized baked sweet potato

Afternoon/Pre-WOD Snack
1 Best Ever Bar

Post-WOD Shake
1 scoop of Stronger, Faster, Healthier Pure chocolate protein powder in 16oz of water
1 banana

6 ounces of salmon on 1 cup of brown rice with 2 ounces of salsa and 3 tablespoons of guacamole

Pre-Bed Snack
2 cups of Rice Chex cereal with 1 cup of organic 2% milk

In total, this day of food intake equates to:
Carbs: 235g
Protein: 151g
Fat: 56g

Notice how I didn’t write “Diet Coke” or anything other than water and coffee in there? Good. Now, on a non-training day, simply cut out the late-night cereal and Post-WOD shake, then add in a little more protein in the form of chicken or salmon with a little bigger helping of guacamole or some healthy fat, then you’re all set.

Sample Meal Plan for Rest Day
2 paleo sweet potato egg cups
16oz of black coffee with 1 tbsp organic vanilla coffee creamer
1 scoop of Stronger, Faster, Healthier Pure chocolate protein powder in 8oz of water

12 ounces of shredded pork with 1 cup of brown rice and 1 cup of broccoli
1 bowl of tomato-cucumber salad

1.5 breast of paleo sesame chicken with 1 cup of roasted squash and 4 ounces of roasted asparagus

Pre-Bed Snack
2 tbsp almond butter
2 tbsp natural strawberry jam
2 slices of whole wheat bread

In total, this day of food intake equates to:
Carbs: 159g
Protein: 157g
Fat: 67g

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.

Don’t stress out over the exact macros. Instead, try to be “in the ballpark” 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 ratios 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.

Spot Reduction Is a Myth

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The idea of “spot reduction” for fat loss is as old as Tracy Anderson is wrong in everything she ever says. Spot reduction has never and will never work. You can’t reduce the fat deposit on your calves by doing a thousand calf raises. Similarly, you can’t get abs by doing a thousand situps. The real key to fat loss and the resulting ab definition is total body work and high-intensity interval training, like what we program in classes every day as part of our strength & conditioning training.

Doing crunches won’t get you closer to having abs because your abs aren’t meant to act as flexors or extensors (bending forward or bending over backwards); they’re meant to act as stabilizers. That’s why we program movements such as anti-rotation kettlebell renegade rows, or planks in Unloaded, or suitcase carries (that’s a sneak preview at the next programming cycle). Also, the compound movements of deadlifts, heavy squats and overhead lifts are making your abs work MUCH harder than those rinky-dink crunches. These total body movements make your abs stabilize against some extreme forces, and they’re infinitely better than any 30-day challenge.

Here are some other things to get those abs for Spring/Summer:

1. Get Better Sleep
Sleep raises your growth hormone levels, which means more muscle gain and fat loss (1). Better sleep also improves your insulin sensitivity, as poor insulin sensitivity can disproportionately store fat in your gut (2). Lastly, better sleep regulates your thyroid’s hormone levels, meaning your metabolism will run faster (3). And how can you sleep better? By turning off all screens (TV’s, cellphones, monitors) one hour before bed, or supplementing with ~325-500mg of ZMA or ~2-5mg of Melatonin.

2. Be More Active
If you’re attending Derby City three times a week, try adding a fourth or fifth day. “WTF?!? BUT I’M ALREADY SO SORE” I know, I know… hear me out… on the new days you’re adding to your workout schedule, try just performing the WOD that day, and do so at “Half-Life” weight or reps, but at higher intensity. So, skip the Strength portion and just knock out a variation of the WOD that allows you to keep moving quickly with short breaks. Repeatedly, studies show that more fat loss is achieved in high-intensity training lasting 20 minutes than in low-intensity training lasting 45 minutes. High-intensity training increases post-exercise oxygen consumption, as your muscles work to restore physiological factors in your cells, which requires greater energy expenditure than low-intensity training (4). What’s that mean? You need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable in the WODs.

3. Eat Better
To lose fat, ultimately you have to be at a caloric deficit, burning more calories than you eat, so your body burns stored fat to compensate. But, don’t simply aim to eat less. Eat intelligently with a diverse diet, making sure to avoid artificial sugars. Refer to our last article –> “Quick Guide to Easy Nutrition”. Generally speaking, you can begin seeing abs at around 10% body fat for men and around 16% body fat for women, and our body-fat composition machine can help you track your fat loss over weeks and months.

(1) “Age-related changes in slow wave sleep and REM sleep and relationship with growth hormone and cortisol levels in healthy men.” Van Caulter, E., JAMA, August 2000.

(2) “A Single Night of Partial Sleep Deprivation Induces Insulin Resistance in Multiple Metabolic Pathways in Healthy Subjects.” Donga, E., JCEM, July 2013.

(3) “The Role of Your Thyroid in Metabolism and Weight Control.” Jacques, J., OAC, 2016.

(4) “Effect of an Acute Period of Resistance Exercise on EPOC Implications for Body Mass Management.” Schuenke, M., Applied Physiology, March 2002.

Quick Guide to Easy Nutrition

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Think of the following as a “starting point of discussion” for nutrition to fuel your workouts. Not the end-all, be-all, and not specifically tailored to your personal needs, but a general guideline which we believe will work for the wide majority of the DCCF community. If you want a nutrition plan written strictly for performance, let us know and we can get you hooked up, but that’s another story…

So, realistically, we all want to allow for a random party-splurge, an accidental intermittent fast, a weekend competition with three workouts in one day, or even a weekend of laziness. Most people get into trouble in miscalculating their energy needs over weeks and months, and they don’t see their average amount of carbs creeping up (or down!), or they have no clue what types of food they should be consuming.

Calculate Your Macronutrients
An easy recipe for success is to lock in your protein and fat intake, and then moderate your daily carb intake based on whether you’re working out really hard that day, or just doing a light workout, or just resting.

So, set your protein at ~1g per lb of bodyweight, set fat at 75g for females and 100g for males, then calculate carbs. If you’re attending a Derby City class that day and really crushing the strength portion and busting your ass during the WOD, then shoot for 2g of carbs per lb of bodyweight. If you’re going light or taking it kinda easy or maybe hitting a yoga class instead, then shoot for 1.25g per lb of bodyweight. If you’re just resting at home or mobilizing, then shoot for .75g per lb of bodyweight.

Cycling your carbs based on your day’s activity is a great way to see quick results, and this method is an easy way to determine how much to eat. That being said, there are definitely more fine-tuned ways to adjust your macronutrient intake based on high-/low-training days versus rest days, but for now, we’re just giving you an easy outline to get started.

Take Away or Add Carbs in “Waves”
If your goal is to lose weight, cut 25-50g carbs per day and stay at that number for a couple weeks to see how you adjust. If you adjust well, then cut another 25-50g per day and stay at that new number for a couple more weeks, etc… don’t try to cut 150-200g per day and expect your body to handle it well. You’ll likely end up binging, getting super moody, or something worse.

Alternatively, if you’re trying to bulk up, then do the same thing but in reverse. Add 25-50g of carbs per day and stay at that number for a couple weeks to adjust to the new food intake, then increase again, etc…

Types of Foods
Aim to get your protein from lean sources like chicken, turkey, fish, lamb, or grass-fed beef. Aim to get your fats from those same protein sources and from nuts, avocados, coconut, eggs, grass-fed butter, or olive oil. Carbs are trickier… Watch out for hidden carbs/sugars in anything that comes in a box or can or tub, even those vanilla-flavored Greek yogurts you’ve been having for breakfast. Quit it. Try to stay away from grains and sugars, while being careful about overdoing fruit.

Meal Outline
Your typical breakfast and lunch should consist of protein, veggies and fat. Knock out a small pre-workout meal about 90min prior to working out consisting of slow-digesting carbs (oatmeal, quinoa, beans) and protein and no fat. If you workout in the morning, then skip this meal. Post-workout, a meal of fast-digesting carbs (white rice, sweet potatoes) and protein and no fat would be best. Dinner would be carbs, protein and some fat. And lastly, consume any missing macros (especially carbs) pre-bed. If you don’t workout that day or are going light (yoga, like mentioned above), then skip the pre- and post-workout meals.