Category Archives: Food & Nutrition

I’m a Fish and I don’t wanna be saved!

Angelo Copola, on his INCREDIBLE podcast, “Latest In Paleo,” has a weekly segment called Moment of Paleo. It’s kind of an ad lib 2 minutes where he delves into more of the philosophy behind life and wellness.  As a student of philosophy, he often presents eye-opening and inspiring thoughts.  This past week’s podcast was no exception.  Angelo starts by reading this traditional Tanzanian Folktale about Monkeys and Fish:

The rainy season that year had been the strongest ever and the river had broken its banks. There were floods everywhere and the animals were all running up into the hills. The floods came so fast that many drowned except the lucky monkeys who used their proverbial agility to climb up into the treetops. They looked down on the surface of the water where the fish were swimming and gracefully jumping out of the water as if they were the only ones enjoying the devastating flood.

One of the monkeys saw the fish and shouted to his companion: “Look down, my friend, look at those poor creatures. They are going to drown. Do you see how they struggle in the water?” “Yes,” said the other monkey. “What a pity! Probably they were late in escaping to the hills because they seem to have no legs. How can we save them?” “I think we must do something. Let’s go close to the edge of the flood where the water is not deep enough to cover us, and we can help them to get out.”

So the monkeys did just that. They started catching the fish, but not without difficulty. One by one, they brought them out of the water and put them carefully on the dry land. After a short time there was a pile of fish lying on the grass motionless. One of the monkeys said, “Do you see? They were tired, but now they are just sleeping and resting. Had it not been for us, my friend, all these poor people without legs would have drowned.”

The other monkey said: “They were trying to escape from us because they could not understand our good intentions. But when they wake up they will be very grateful because we have brought them salvation.” 

So how does this correlate to Paleo and life/wellness.  Well, despite their best intentions, the vast majority of those espousing conventional wisdom regarding diet and lifestyle tend to be the self-anointed Monkeys from the story.  Like the fish, I now swim freely in a sea of self-awareness about my food and lifestyle…fighting for my life avoiding being dragged to dry land by the Monkeys of conventional wisdom.  This year, are going to break free from the Monkeys’ grasp or will you swim free?

Occupy Your Food! A great resolution for the new year

Nora Gedgaudas with an incredible manifesto to get your year started off right.

From the post:

This means a new level of personal responsibility.  This means no longer “feeding” the “1% agenda” by blindly accepting what we are told by mainstream sources about profitable and damaging dietary myths. This means saying NO to laws that restrict our access to healthy unadulterated food, saying NO to efforts being put forth to restrict our access to quality nutritional supplements or alternative care options of our choice (yes—these things ARE being restricted increasingly world-wide as we speak). This means saying NO to forced acceptance of GMO’s, food additives and preservatives, pesticides, gluten-containing foods (and crappy, pseudo-healthy, processed “gluten-free” foods), monoculture agriculture, factory farming, and inhumane commercial livestock/feedlot practices. This means speaking up in restaurants and grocery markets and making known your preferences and demands (diplomatically, of course) for the kind of quality food you expect and what you will no longer buy from them. This means making every effort to avoid the processed garbage being sold as food and also looking in the mirror and becoming candid with ourselves about our addictions, vulnerabilities/weaknesses and unconscious avoidances of these issues.

Off your Ass!

Read this:

Now take a look at sample (below) from a CFHR athletes (this is the 6th example picture we’ve received) of their workstation at their office converted to a standup desk.  What are you waiting for?  Take your health into your own hands (and on your own feet).  Get off your ass at work.  Be the example.  Make people ask you why you stand, why you choose not to suffer the slow death of a desk.  Why you do a full squat in front of the water cooler.  Why you pack your own lunch with meat and veggies every day.  Why you have so much energy….TAKE CHARGE IN 2012!!!!!

Alan's new Standup Desk (with strategically placed Kombucha)

One Doctor’s Story. The Impact of Nutrition

She frames much of this in relation to mitochondria in our cells.  While the mitochondria are an absolutely intriguing part of our evolution and symbiotic existence with bacteria, there’s so much more at play in these dietary changes than just that.  Just keep the big picture about the changes she made and the impacts it had.


Addictive Food plus a great link for friends & family with questions about diet and lifestyle

OK, so the post title says it all.

First, if you’re not neck-deep in the Paleo/Primal blogosphere, then you probably haven’t hear of the “Food Reward” vs. “Gary Taubes carb/insulin” debate.  Whether you know about this discussion or not, Stephan Guyenet at has some great discussions about it.  We’ve often discussed how many foods can trigger the same reward centers in the brain as addictive drugs and behaviors.  In particular, we’ve discussed the opiate-like substances in grains and the addictiveness or sugar.  In a new paper by Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, discusses the similarities between obesity and drug addition in relation to the areas of the brain triggered during addictive behaviors. Here’s an abstract that Stephan had on his blog:

There is now evidence that comparable dopaminergic responses are linked with food reward and that these mechanisms are also likely to play a role in excessive food consumption and obesity. It is well known that certain foods, particularly those rich in sugars and fat, are potently rewarding (Lenoir et al. 2007). High-calorie foods can promote over-eating (eating that is uncoupled from energetic needs) and trigger learned associations between the stimulus and the reward (conditioning). In evolutionary terms, this property of palatable foods used to be advantageous in environments where food sources were scarce and/or unreliable, because it ensured that food was eaten when available, enabling energy to be stored in the body (as fat) for future use. Unfortunately, in societies like ours, where food is plentiful and constantly available, this adaptation has become a liability.

For more papers and discussion about this topic, go to this link.  Here’s a Direct link to the paper addressed above.

OK, not so interested in the nitty gritty science?   Then checkout this series of simple starter articles from Mark Sission.  They make easy-reads for friends and family interested in the lifestyle and diet changes you’ve made:








Primal/Paleo T-Giving Recipies Galore!

Hey folks.  Each year, we like to link to some primal/paleo holiday recipes.  This year, I’m tossing in  5 different websites with links directly to their Thanksgiving Day recipe lists.  As long as certain foods won’t completely kill  your or set you into a 3-month-long bender, then enjoy yourself and your company on Thanksgiving.  We’ve done primal/paleo T-Giving at our place for 3 yrs, and the food is INCREDIBLE.  We hope you have a safe, restful and enjoyable Thanksgiving break, and we look forward to seeing you back in the box!

Primal Palate

Elana’s Pantry

Everyday Paleo

Mark’s Daily Apple

Nutty Kitchen


FTBB, Fall 2011 has come to a close and HOLY CRAP was this a competitive FTBB!  The results will stun you.  Remember, this was only a 30 DAY competition in which participants took an aggressive stance to address the following:

  • emotional and lifestyle stress
  • nutrition
  • sleep
  • exercise

The goal was to look, feel and perform better at the end of the 30 days.  THIS WAS NOT A WEIGHT LOSS COMPETITION. It was a body composition competition.  We look for athletes to lean out and gain or maintain muscle mass. You can read all the rules and resources here:

While there were tremendous results from our competitors, we have chosen the top 3 ladies and top 3 men.  Be sure to congratulate ALL FTBB participants. And join us Saturday night (Nov 12th) at the CFHR Birthday/JP Going Away/FTBB PARTY at the box!

Many of you had asked for a video of our Pre-competition lifestyle and nutrition lecture, so HERE YOU GO.

Top Male and Female split the pool, each receiving $160 in cash
2nd Place Male and Female get 1 month membership Free
3rd Place Male and Female get 1 Free T-shirt, 1 free zip up hoodie, a free Winter beanie hat and paleo kit item of their choice

So here are your CrossFit Hampton Roads Fall 2011 FTBB Prize Winners!

Women’s First Place:  Esther B.

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Women’s 2nd Place:  Nicki C.

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Women’s 3rd Place:  Jen L.

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Men’s First Place:  Guy V.

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Men’s 2nd Place:  Rich A.

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Men’s 3rd Place:  Jered B.

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Pre and Post Workout Nutrition

Most of you know me, and know that I tend to be “thorough” when I’m asked questions…or I try to be.  Time has been of the essence recently, so I haven’t had much time to blog.  But I’ve been asked about pre and post-workout nutrition about 10 times in the past week, so here’s as thorough of a response and resource I can provide in about 30 minutes at the computer.

As always, this question has a veritable cornucopia of responses based on your goals and your current state in relation to those goals.  So here’s a relatively straight forward way to break it down.  I’ll use 3 categories (although you could probably break it down into more).  There are a ton of considerations that go into this discussion.

Let’s start with the Post workout discussion, because it’s a little easier to address:

1.  Beginner Athlete (someone new to intense training AND working on leaning out…lose fat)

Post-Workout –  The assumption here is that this athlete is only

  • A.  Don’t Eat  immediately (post workout fast). Let your body replenish glycogen stores naturally.  Greater release of Growth Hormone and stimulation of fat burning/muscle gain.  Eat a meal 1-2 hours later  (Protein, Fat and carb).  Here’s a great post from Mark Sisson on post workout fasting.  The caveat to this is if you completely crash after a workout (low blood sugar due to glycogen depletion) and you can’t function, then by all means, eat immediately after.  A small dose of either fructose-based carbs (i.e. fruit) or starchier glucose-based carbs (sweet potato) can really help (each for their own reasons).
  • B.  If you are going to eat, eat REAL FOOD with a bias towards protein…but the protein shake is probably not what you’re looking for here…not because of calories or even insulin spike per se, but because with the initial steps of leaning out, we’re trying to focus on food QUALITY and to limit potential irritants and inflammatory stressors from food.  Remember, the assumption is that you’re still working on leanness, so we want to stick primarily to protein;  if you do any carbs, avoid grains  (as you should be doing anyway).  A good example is a bit of jerky or maybe jerky and sweet potato.
  • Bottom line, is that this is not dogmatic.  If you feel like ass after your workout and your body is telling you to eat, then eat.  If you’re not hungry, and you fall in category A (leaning out), then don’t eat just because Muscle-Bound Publication X says you have to eat within 36 seconds of finishing your workout.

2.  Intermediate  Athlete (leaned out, but starting to become more competitive and work harder on achieving more goals and PRs.  Workouts are tapping farther into intensity so more glycogen is being used)

If the workout is glycolitic (i.e. leaves you on the floor) or, in general requires a steady output for more than 15 minutes or so (i.e. it’s not just lifting), then:

  •  A.  Within 30 minutes of finishing workout, eat protein and carbohydrates in the following approximate ratios (in the form of REAL FOOD primarily)
    • I.  Competitively Lean (< 10% BF for men, < 15% BF for women) – 60%-70% Carb / 30-40% Protein
    • II.  Moderately Lean (11-18% BF for men, 16-25% for women) – 40-50% Carb / 50-60% Protein
    • 1 – 2 hours later, eat a full meal consisting of Protein and Fat
    • If you get sleepy after your post workout meal, then dial back on the carbs.  Play around with the carbs afterwards over the course of a few weeks to find where you feel the best (recovery is good and you don’t get the 2pm coma feeling).
    • The amount of carbs you can tolerate depends on a lot of things (age, sex, how long you’ve been training, current leanness, etc..).  You have to play around with it a bit
  • B.  Consider fasting for the same reasons as with the Beginner Athlete.  This would normally happen after a workout where you are just lifting.

3.  Competitive Athlete  (assumption is that your as lean as is optimal for best performance).

Post-workout options for the competitive athlete will be almost identical to the Intermediate athlete, but now we must consider multiple workouts (and the requirement to more immediately replenish glycogen), higher output levels, and that we are eating for performance…not necessarily health  THERE IS A DIFFERENCE!!!!!   I’ll push the competitive athlete to use liquid-based recovery nutrition immediately after workouts. They’ll generally be taking in more carbs than protein (i.e. case I. above) immediately after their glycolitically demanding workout (i.e. leaves you on the ground), and they’ll eat a much larger meal 1-2 hours after the post workout meal unless working out again that day.  Depending on their goals during the current phase of training, the competitor may be taking in more calories based on strength and mass gain goals.  This would shift as competition neared and they needed to revisit lactic work (the kind that makes you want to vomit…you know).

Alright, so hopefully that didn’t leave you with more questions than answers.  My goal is to get you to experiment a bit, but have a reason why you’re doing what you’re doing.  Ask others what has worked for them.

So now it’s off the the land of pre-workout food

Again, the answer depends, but there are some good guidelines.

1.  LIFTING.  For MOST individuals, if the workout is primarily lifting without a hard/fast effort involved (i.e. no 5 min AMRAP after the lift), then they can usually eat right up until the start of the workout and be OK.  Because carbs can cause some mental fogginess (depending on quantity and your tolerance), you can stick with primarily protein and fat prior to a lifting workout.   This goes for all experience levels.

2.  THE PAIN TRAIN.  If there is a lactic/glycolitic effort during your workout (i.e. you can tell it’s going to be a challenge) then having glycogen stores topped off is important.  This does NOT mean the cliched “carb-loading” pasta dinner.  It just means an appropriate amount of rest and or carbs to replenish glycogen within 3-4 hours of the workout.  Some people can eat very close to a hard workout.  I, personally, perform much better on a nearly empty stomach prior to a hard workout. However, we have the “green-face” affect that we see pretty much every TAKEOFF course to consider.  This is when a new athlete, in the midst of their first workout (generally less than 5 minute effort) suddenly gets a flushed/green hue to their face.  We know immediately what question to ask:  “When did you last eat?”  Without a doubt, the answer is something like, “Lucky Charms for breakfast!?”  (keep in mind that TAKEOFF starts after 6pm).

An important consideration (and one that’s tough for new athletes to grasp when they have competing goals of performance and leanness) is that glycolitically demanding workouts (i.e. what you think of as a classic hard CrossFit workout) DEMANDS sufficient carbohydrate intake prior to the workout.  That doesn’t mean necessarily immediately before, but close enough that you don’t deplete that glycogen through your fasting efforts or just being too low carb.  So when we ask people to reduce to an APPROPRIATE quantity of carbohydrates via primarily veggies, some fruit and starches like sweet potatoes….if they go TOO low carb while trying to do full-effort CrossFit workouts, then 1) they fail miserably in the workouts and feel like utter shit, and 2) they hinder their fat loss goals because they are stimulating a stress-response (cortisol release!) due to too low of glycogen under glycolitic demanding conditions.  The body will use available protein or muscle tissue to create sugar to fuel your fun workout….but at the expense of increased inflammation, adrenal stress (remember the hormone pool analogy and that sex hormones and hormones controlling fat storage are the first ones affected by excess stress) and likely fat storage.   The body doesn’t necessarily like to be physically stressed AND starved at the same time.

So if you’re new to this whole “fat is a great fuel for the body so I’ll reduce my carbs to normal levels below 100g per day because Jeremy is telling me to”,  you must temper your CrossFit goals and output.  This is why I steer newer athletes who desire leanness to focus on M, W and F workouts (lifting) and to go easier on their workouts.  And in all honesty, the persistent cortisol elevation associated with beating yourself into tar EVERY workout is another reason we program the way we do (i.e. with rest periods, shorter WODs in general, and periodization).

Alrighty folks.  That was just shy of 1500 words of pure confusion, huh.  I wish it were as easy as “eat this, not that” when it comes to pre and post workout nutrition…but it just isn’t.  We’ve got an old Nutrition 101 podcast that addressed this. I’m re-editing it a bit but I’ll get that out there soon.  It basically addresses this exact question.  The bottom line is that it’s different for each individual based on their current position and goals.  You’ve gotta play around with it a bit, BUT THAT REQUIRES CONSISTENCY IN YOUR EFFORTS!!!! Don’t try one thing for one day and then shift the next day.  Try post-workout fasts every 3rd workout for 1 month.  If it works, sweet, that’s a data point.  Now try something else and see if you feel better or worse.  Get it?  You now have some direction in which to start your experimentation.


Revist to the Basics

Hey guys, over the next few weeks, i’m going to post links to my favorite baseline articles involving Nutrition and Lifestyle.  The VAST majority of these will come from Mark Sisson’s

Even if you’ve read them before, these are GREAT informative readings that are packed full of references, data and solid explanations that we can all understand.

To get started, here’s “The Context of Calories”

Chocolate Fish Oil Tastes GOOOOOD!

Alright, here’s a very in-depth, yet very readable article by Robb Wolf regarding Fish Oil and the reasons he has adjusted his recommended intake quantities.  This isn’t just a changing of his mind.  Very compelling research and biochemical mechanisms presented to him by Dr Kurt Harris and Chris Kresser have led to this.  You can read the article (which I HIGHLY recommend), or the bottom line is this:  regardless of how much we dial in nutrition, our modern lifestyle and stressors sets the stage for systemic inflammation.  Appropriate amounts (roughly 2-4 grams/day  of high-quality, bioavailable DHA/EPA combined with a LOW INTAKE OF OMEGA – 6 fatty acids can help reduce this inflammation and the risk of potential diseases associated with it.

Starting in Nov, CFHR will carry Stronger, Faster, Healthier’s Fishoil in the gym.  This is one of the most potent and pure fishoils around.  They are a family-owned, small business in Maine.  I met with them personally three weeks ago to work out this deal.  We’ll start small with sample bottles of mint and chocolate flavored fish oils to see how people like them.  If it goes well, we’ll get full-sized bottles and expand the flavor options.  We’ll also carry their 100% GrassFed Whey and Recovery Powders.  Brent used the recovery drink during the Beast of the East, and it sold us on it.  It is VERY good stuff.  The whey is appropriate for those looking to make a primal/paleo shake for a quick morning meal or snack.  More to come on this!




Don’t Be Deceived by “ALL NATURAL”

Another great find by Angelo Copola at Latest In Paleo.  Don’t let the label trick you.  Just as “Gluten Free” has become a vector to (in some cases) sell packaged food with non-gluten containing crap (as opposed to gluten-containing crap), “all natural” is one of the LEAST regulated statements in the food industry…leading to a false sense of security and an implied sustainability and wholesomeness about the product.

The Family Buy-In

As we head into week 2 of FTBB, the realization of the changes that face you can be daunting.  What’s more, is that despite a loving family, you may feel alone in the challenge of changing lifestyle factors such as sleep, stress and nutrition.  Never fear…you are NOT alone and you are not the first to face this challenge.

As I frequently do, I’ll turn to Mark Sission, from Mark’s Daily Apple for some great suggestions regarding lifestyle changes and the family.

Not every family will find compromises quickly.   For the good of those around you, you must be responsible (first and foremost) for your own well-being and trust that, at least for your kids, the example set by your actions will pave the path for a healthy future.

FTBB Contestant Takes 1 Small Step…by Standing Up!!

Tab K.  (Noon Serious Strength class athlete & FTBB contestant) took a simple but important step towards adapting his lifestyle within the bounds of his job.  This is a photo of Tab’s new “standup desk.”  A few months ago, we posted photos of a few different make-shift standup desks put together by some of our athletes.  This, is, by far, the nicest one we’ve seen so far.  Tab has taken a critical step to avoiding the “slow death” (K-Star quote) of sitting in a chair all-day.  It’s so simple….just stand up!  I caught hell for a year when I had a desk job because I didn’t have a chair and I had my computer setup on top of boxes.  But damn if I didn’t feel great at the end of the day while the vast majority of the others in the office looked like they were getting out of a straight jacket at the end of the day.

TAKE CHARGE!!! MAKE CHANGES!!! It’s your life, and you only get one…so do it right!

Welcome to FTBB 2011

Fit To Be Bare 2011 kicks off TODAY!!!

Don’t forget the multitude of resources available to guide you during this 30 day Nutrition and Lifestyle challenge.

  • The CFHR Webpage and Blog (including very frequent posts with suggestions, recipes, etc.)
  • Other Athletes
  • Our FACEBOOK page where we ask you guys to post recipes or good deals you find on quality food in the local area.

What steps will you take this weekend to propel you in planning ahead for next week?  Will you shop for a crockpot?  Will you look at some of the recipe resources we post and stock up?  Will you clean your cabinets of the “Neolithic Agents of Disease” such as refined sugars and flours, wheat and irritant grains, and “seed” oils such as soy, sunflower and safflower?

To get you started, here’s are are some links for you

1)  From Robb Wolf’s website, titled “Paleo Meals the Easy Way

2) YouTube video of the FTBB Kickoff Nutrition and Lifestyle lecture I gave on Thursday night.

3) And to help you defend yourself, here is the great Denise Minger’s review of the new movie “Forks over Knives.”  Great review and the really good stuff starts halfway down under the paragraph header of “Critique Time!”

4) Finally, here is Sally Fallon presenting the Weston A. Price review of the new USDA Dietary Guidelines…this is very good: