How to eat to perform better at CrossFit

Lifestyle Guidelines for Clients vs. Athletes

A breakdown of how different lifestyles should look depending on your clients’ goals.

General fitness clients training to “look good naked and live a healthy life” should not be living the same way as a client seeking to be a competitive athlete. There are significant differences in the way you approach and consult with each individual and the different principles they follow.

A starting point for all clients is what we call, “Basic Lifestyle Guidelines” or BLGs. BLGs are a holistic approach to nourishment that focuses on contributors to overall health. This is an all-encompassing phrase that looks at daily hydration, food hygiene, sleep hygiene, daily activity, self-reflection, and daily stress management. 

The list below is an encompassing view of what makes up the BLGs.

Basic Lifestyle Guidelines

  1. There are 24 hours in a day; apply work and rest appropriately
  2. The earth spins, and the sun and moon correlate with our energy patterns; we need sun exposure, we sleep with the moon
  3. You will one day die; get over it and get living
  4. Water, moving blood, and proper digestion are essential daily routines
  5. Water; drink ½ of someone’s body weight in ounces per day, as a starting point
  6. Recovery; Blood flow facilitates recovery and healing faster; get moving every day
  7. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day maintains a great circadian rhythm
  8. Digestion; Food is a 36-44-hour investment, sit down, chew your food, enjoy your food, set the phone aside and have a conversation

Download a printable version of the BLGs by signing up here.

For long-term health and fitness, dialing in these key points can go a long way for the average person. The rapid pace of our society takes our focus away from the simple things that our body still appreciates and longs for: rhythm, movement, nourishment. Don’t underestimate the importance of the basics when it comes to getting general population clients the results they need.

(Note: The BLGs are the cornerstone of our Nourishment module in the OPEX Coaching Certificate Program (CCP). Learn to create holistic nourishment plans based on the BLGs with the mini-course Coach’s Toolkit.)

So, what’s different when it comes to high-level athletes?

Now let’s look at the 0.1% of individual’s who will compete at the highest level in competition and are chasing their maximum physical potential. With that quest comes a shift of focus from simple/foundational principles to more specific performance driven concepts:

Athlete Lifestyle Guidelines

    1. Water; drink 60+ % of your body weight in ounces per day
    2. Lower all inflammatory foods, anything that causes GI disruption.
      – Add curcumin/garlic/turmeric to your foods
      – Watch spicy foods on the gut
      No coffee after 12 p.m. (As a general rule of thumb for caffeine metabolism.)
    1. Vary proteins and vegetables as often as possible.
    1. Chew until your jaw gets tired; 30+ chews per bite! Taste the food/break it down/digest it/utilize it.
    1. Sit down, take five deep breaths before, and chew at least 30 times per bite when eating – eat with others, not electronics (Enjoy your food, take it easy while you eat, digestion is king when we talk macros).
  1. Meditative Breathing; AM or PM – Once rising out of bed or before bed (get prepared for your day)
  2. Lower stress on your overall system; less light at night (try to get away from your phone before bed – 60 to 90 min of no blue light).
  3. Sleep; (Sleep from before 10 PM to 5-6 AM daily) in a completely blacked out, cold room. Look into blackout curtains and sleep the entire night with no interruptions.
  4. Go to bed and get up the same time every day – 8.5+ hours is the magic number of dark, uninterrupted sleep.
  5. Sun; allow for 45 minutes of direct sunlight. (Best time between 10am-3pm).
  6. Hygiene; turn the water cold for the last 30 second of every hot shower.
  7. Blood flow is the master of recovery – do it daily and frequently – move to recover! Self-Myofascial Work, Cryogenic-Therapy, PT or Chiro work, “Around the World” Movement sessions, etc.
  8. Know why you are doing what you are doing – Have a vision, Stay aligned with the goal for you of having a healthy Central Nervous System, good hygiene practices, better digestion, and ongoing training success.

In closing, addressing the small things that go unnoticed by more novice coaches will have a profound impact on one’s health and fitness.

If your client falls into the category of someone who is chasing their maximum physical potential, you must dial in the specifics to ensure short and long-term success. At the end of the day, always remember that it’s not the training that gets them to the top, it’s the ability to adapt to that stress. If they can’t recover appropriately, they will not adapt to the stress and will not reach their potential or goals.

The basic lifestyle guidelines for athletes and general population clients differ in the level of depth but are all rooted in the same principles. Learn the principles of the BLGs and how to implement them with different types of clients with the free mini-course Coach’s Toolkit

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