With the new year in full swing, many of us are working to stay true to their 2019 resolution. As the “new year, new me,” crowd continue to fill up gyms across the country, we beg the question: is exercise enough to burn body fat?
Unfortunately, the bad news for those who like to eat out after hitting the gym is exercising while ignoring your diet won’t do you much good. In order to make the most out of your workouts, you not only need to work out regularly, but also check in on what you’re putting into your body.
“When it comes to changing body composition and losing body fat, it will require you to dial into the specifics of your body,” said Sara Avren, nutrition coach with Burg CrossFit in Saint Petersburg, Florida.
“You can’t out train a bad diet,” Avren added. “I have met with many clients that join the gym - or ‘box,’ as we call it - and assume they will lose all the weight and gain lean muscle solely from attending a few sweat sessions a week.”
Does this mean we’ll need to eliminate all our favorite comfort foods and eat strictly vegetables?
Avren said she does not believe in restrictive dieting. Instead, Avren recommends athletes to favor a well balanced, whole food lifestyle that can easily be maintained long term.
“That being said, I believe Keto, South Beach and other carb restricting, fad diets can be beneficial to some but in my experience, it does not benefit the average CrossFitter and their level of exercise,” Avren said.
For both CrossFit athletes and athletes in general, dieting is everything. Without proper nutrition, an athlete could cramp up during the late stages of their bike ride or a CrossFit athlete could struggle to finish their WOD. To help CrossFitters of both old and new make the most out of their workouts, Avren shared her tips and advice on all things diet.
When athletes are working to lose weight or want to see where their conditioning levels are at, they typically do two things: step on a scale or calculate their body mass index (BMI) using an online calculator. But the truth is, Avren said, a scale and BMI only compares you to a national standard of how much you “should” weigh and doesn’t take into account of any dynamics such as body fat and muscle mass.
Avren said at Burg CrossFit, they use a body fat machine called “Inbody” to calculate some of these dynamics the home scale fails to measure.
“The beauty of a body composition analysis is a method of telling what the body is made out of such as fat, muscle, water, bone and where this weight is located in your body,” Avren explained.
“After we receive these results from the scan we then have super accurate numbers to help the client achieve their goals,” she added.
Avren said she has had great success with teaching her clients the art of macronutrients, or macros. Macros are specific targets of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats that your body would need to lose the fat and gain the muscle.
“Following set macros, along with a healthy increase of weight training and regular CrossFit classes, will typically allow the client to see and feel the change in over a few weeks-months,” Avren explained.
Avren said she does not encourage overnight change that leads to immediate weight loss because it’s typically not sustainable and you will run a higher risk of gaining back the weight. In fact, you may even gain back more weight than you originally lost because of the drastic drop in your caloric intake.
“I enjoy helping the client create a lifestyle change that promotes good habits and slow, consistent weight loss while still enjoying the foods they love and the life they live,” she said.
“Knowing that someone else will be giving you feedback on your food intake can make the difference between putting that greasy cheeseburger in your mouth and deciding to order the grilled chicken with rice and vegetables instead."
Avren works with a lot of clients who already know how to eat and what to eat to benefit their body. So why would these clients, who already know what they’re doing before even reaching out to Avren, hire a nutrition coach?
Accountability is the reason why.
“I have learned the common ground between every client that I work with is that they all desire the accountable of someone else keeping track of their daily consumption,” Avren said.
“Knowing that someone else will be giving you feedback on your food intake can make the difference between putting that greasy cheeseburger in your mouth and deciding to order the grilled chicken with rice and vegetables instead,” she added.
Those looking to receive coaching and guidance from Burg CrossFit can click here for more information.
So does this mean we’re never allowed to even look at a cheeseburger? Not quite.
Avren believes in the idea that moderation is key.
“If you followed your meal plan all week long and have put in the effort, then have a cookie and move on,” Avren said. “Have that special treat in appropriate portion size - one serving, not 14 - and keep on keeping on. If 80 percent of your meals are on track, the 20 percent not-so-great [meals] won’t derail you from your progress.”
Another thing to keep in mind is that carbs are not your diet’s enemy. They do not make you fat, they serve a purpose, just like proteins and fats do within our body, Avren said.
Restricting this macronutrient can affect the regulation of your body's glucose levels during exercise and the restoration of muscle glycogen during recovery time. Not to mention its our brains source of energy!
Clever Training recommends👇
For on-the-go snacks, Honey Stinger is a perfect option. Gluten-free and packed with calories and carbs, these mini waffles are easy to carry around and will keep you from working out on an empty stomach.
Hydration is Key
Water, water and water!
Hydration is important for various reasons. Water aides in weight loss by flushing out toxins as it keeps our digestive system working properly. Hydration also helps our muscles recover from the high-intensity workouts that CrossFit offers.
Avren said she sticks to the rule of thumbs that an individual should drink half their body weight in ounces. For example, a man weighing about 150 pounds should drink 75 ounces of water daily.
Clever Training recommends👇
For high-intensity workouts like CrossFit, Clever Training recommends trying the Tailwind Nutrition Endurance Fuel Bags, as it has all the calories and electrolytes you need to help keep you going. Available in orange, lemon and plain flavors, Tailwind won’t give you an upset stomach or will give you a bad aftertaste when you shake and sip during your workout.
Nuun active tablets are also a great way to stay hydrated any time. Packed with electrolytes, clean ingredients and low in calories and sugar, Nuun’s tablets help alleviate cramps and help muscles function.