Leading up to the 2017 CrossFit Games California Regionals I had a ritual of sitting down just after the Open and assessing both my current and future nutrition needs. Every year I find myself making some tweaks here or there to help me re-set mentally and feel prepared going into what will probably be the toughest block of training all year.
I’ve been focused on my nutrition for the past seven years. And when I say focused, I mean that it basically runs my life. And it should! Coach Glassman put nutrition at the bottom of the theoretical hierarchy of an athlete for a reason. Without a detailed nutrition plan, everything else will suffer.
Over the past seven years, I would say my nutrition ‘plan’ has probably changed about 20 to 30 times in different ways. I have many people approach me asking for nutrition plans to help get them to a goal they have, whether that be running a Spartan race, hiking the John Muir Trail, or trying to get to the CrossFit Games. The problem with a single plan is that as the athlete grows and changes with all the hard work they put in to accomplish their goals, so should the nutrition plan.
Sticking to the Zone Diet method
There are many phases I go through during a year of training to get back to Regionals. Let’s break these phases down:
June – August: Recovery
August – October: Strength / Imbalance / Mobility
November – February: Get really, really fit
March – May: Get really, really, really fit!
While these different phases will have more specifics, it doesn’t mean I’m not doing CrossFit throughout the entire year. The volume of training is a little different during certain times of the year, with a specific focus being on something else. One thing hasn’t changed over all seven years of messing with my diet, and is that I still stick to the Zone Diet method.
I’ve tried counting macros, but I don’t do well with grains or dairy and I find that it allows me almost too much freedom. If given that kind of leeway, I’ll usually make bad food choices. Instead I stick to what I know works for me and that’s the Zone Diet.
What I eat during these phases
June – August: Relaxed! I eat clean five days a week with one cheat meal on Thursday nights (usually In n’ Out) and one full day of whatever I want on the weekend. During the week I’m still weighing and measuring my food, with the basic principles of the Zone Diet, but not really too concerned if I have some bread or a cookie, or an occasional beer with friends.
August – October: Normally I eat around 20 blocks a day, but during this time of year I will bump that up to around 25 and sometimes 30 blocks depending on the workload. My goal during this time of the year is to keep my body building as much strength as possible. The heavy barbell is used a lot during this phase, so a heavy plate is there after each session.
November – February: This is where I bring it back down to around 20 blocks from November to January (knowing that the holidays are during this time, so I may have a couple of weeks where the caloric load is much higher). I’ll then bump it back up to around 25 blocks in February to help with the demand of the Open. And while I know the Open is only one workout a week, it’s taken me years of tinkering with my blocks to know that doing this just before helps me a lot.
March – May: I will keep my standard blocks around 25 a day, but over the years I’ve found that adding in a post workout shake helps. The shake consists of 1 cup mixed berries, 2 scoops Puori protein, a handful of spinach, and 1 scoop of karbolyn (usually two). I have this after each session. I feel my best during this time and it’s also when the volume and stress is the highest all year.
Be prepared to change it up
While this is my basic plan I’ve had from the beginning, small tweaks have been made here or there throughout my journey. So, if you’re thinking about starting a new nutrition plan for whatever reason you may have, my only suggestion to you is to be ready to adapt. Don’t think that the original plan you come up with is going to be what will carry you through to the finish line. Be okay with changing it up here or there. This can be a good thing and will mean you are coming closer to your goals, but always have a baseline to go off of.
This is why I love the Zone Diet. While it may not be the most precise way of eating originally, it does give you something to go off of and come back to. I think of it like my anchor. No matter what life throws at me or how I react to a new diet, I know that 20 blocks of meats and veggies, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and zero sugar will always get me back to where I want to be.
* Wes placed 8th individual man at the 2017 California Regionals, which took place recently. Afterwards he put the following emotional message on his Instagram page (see below). Well done Wes, from all at inov-8!
Well…. there it is. The end. The end of seven years putting my heart and soul into making the CrossFit Games. I’ve made the decision to retire after six years of competing as a Regionals and CrossFit Games athlete. The past year has brought me two anchors in my labrum, a new baby, and an increasing dream for my gym. I’ve decided that the latter (my family – my daughter and gym) is more important to me than competing. Thank you for all the support over the past 7 years, CrossFit community! And if you’re ever in Gilroy, Ca. We have a pretty awesome crew you’d probably want to hang with. (We even have our own drinking team @coastrangedrinkingteam) #family #crcf #CrossFit