How to Eat For Success

A Comparison of General Fitness and Elite Athlete Nutrition

Your general fitness clients training to “look good naked” should not be eating the same way as a CrossFit Games Athlete. There are significant differences in the way you approach and consult with each individual and different principles they follow.

One of the big points for discussion with our clients is what we call, “Basic Lifestyle Guidelines.” 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 “Basic Lifestyle Guidelines”.

Basic Lifestyle Guidelines

ONE
There are 24 hours in a day; apply work and rest appropriately

TWO
The earth spins, and the sun and moon correlate with our energy patterns; we need sun exposure, we sleep with the moon

THREE
You will one day die; get over it and get living

FOUR
Water, moving blood and proper digestion are essential daily routines

FIVE
Water; ½ of someone’s bodyweight in ounces per day, as a starting point

SIX
Recovery; Blood flow facilitates recovery and healing faster; get moving everyday

SEVEN
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day to maintain great circadian rhythm

EIGHT
Digestion; Food is a 36-44-hour investment, sit down, CHEW your food, enjoy your food, set the phone aside and have a conversation

For long term health and fitness, dialing in these key points can go along ways 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.

So, what’s different when it comes to Elite Level Athlete nutrition?

Now let’s look at the 0.1% of individual’s who will compete at the highest level in the Sport of Fitness (and other sports as well). They 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

ONE
Water; 60+ % of your Bodyweight in ounces per day

TWO
Meditative Breathing; AM or PM - Once rising out of bed or before bed (get prepared for your day)

THREE
Lower stress on system overall, LESS light at night (TRY to get AWAY from your phone before bed - 60 to 90 min of NO light)

FOUR
SLEEP (Sleep from before 10PM to 5-6AM daily) in a completely blacked out room, COLD, need black out curtains. SLEEP the entire night through with NO wake up or interruptions. 

FIVE
SUN 45 min directly on skin daily (Best time between 10am-3pm)

SIX
Cold shower last 30 secs of every hot shower

SEVEN
ADD in salty snack before bed (plantains/avocado oil chips OKAY) (Needs to be at least an hour before bed; body needs to break down and start digesting)

EIGHT
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 12PM (When you do coffee AM do PROTEIN prior to)

NINE
VARY PROTEINS and VEGETABLES as OFTEN as POSSIBLE

TEN
CHEW until your jaw gets tired; 30+ chews per bite! Taste the food/break it down/digest it/utilize it

ELEVEN
Go to bed and get up the same time every day - 8.5+ hours is the magic number of dark, uninterrupted sleep (KEY, NO lights up to 60-90 min before bed)

TWELVE
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.

THIRTEEN
Sit down, 5 deep breaths before, and chew at least 30 times per bite when eating - eat with others, NOT electronics (ENJOY food, TAKE it easy while you EAT, digestion is king when we talk macros)

FOURTEEN
Know why you are doing what you are doing - HAVE vision, STAY aligned with goal. FOR YOU healthy CNS, GOOD hygiene practices, BETTER digestions 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.

Instruct the client to move daily, drink water, sit down and chew their food, get some direct sunlight, go to sleep with the moon and wake with the sun. Knowing where the client sits on the continuum with regards to goals and purpose which will help direct your focus.

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.

These lists were created from the principles of nutrition found in OPEX CCP Level One. Learn how to program nutrition based on the individual by downloading the “Nutrition Handbook for Fitness Coaches”.

Blog Written By OPEX Head Coach Sam Smith