Macronutrients: What are they? Why are they important?

If you’ve been doing CrossFit for a while or have simply been in the fitness space, then you have probably heard the phrase ‘counting macros’ time and time again. It is a phrase that is often used in conversations about nutrition and often the questions, ‘Do you count your macros?’ or ‘What are your macros?’ are common inquiries in a typical CrossFit gym. But what are macros exactly? “Macros” are short for macronutrients and there are 3 types: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Each of these are essential for a healthy, well-balanced diet. Let’s take a look at each of these individually to get a better idea of why they are important.


Why is protein important? It is involved in many of our body’s basic functions, such as the repair and rebuilding of tissues, hormones, and our immune system. For the average, sedentary, generally healthy adult, they need about 0.8g of protein per kg of body mass to cover basic daily requirements. However, this is just the recommended amount for basic protein turnover and preventing malnutrition. It is not necessarily optimal.

An individual’s protein needs will increase if they are training hard frequently or have a heavy physical job; if they are injured or sick or are recovering from surgery; if they are older (you don’t digest protein as well when you’re older so you need more to meet the basic requirements); or if they’re losing protein for some other reason. Individuals may need more protein if they are trying to lose weight because it can put them in a negative energy balance (protein helps them feel full longer). 

Some good sources of protein include:

  • Beef, bison, and buffalo
  • Chicken and turkey
  • Fish
  • Eggs and egg whites
  • Cottage cheese or strained Greek yogurt
  • Beans and legumes
  • Protein powder

So, now that we know protein is good for us and we need it for basic daily functions, how much do we actually need? You can use your hands as measuring tools. For most people, try eating 1 to 2 palm-size portions of high-protein foods per meal. For highly active people, try eating 2 to 3 palm-size portions per meal.


Carbs are not the enemy! In fact, they are necessary for giving our body the energy it needs to function and perform at an optimal level. There are several different types of carbohydrates:

  • Complex carbohydrates – 
    • They come from whole-food sources like vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains.
    • They tend to keep us feeling full longer. 
    • They also supply micronutrients, phytonutrients, fiber and water.
    • They keep our blood sugar and insulin levels stable while releasing their energy gradually.
  • Simple, refined, and highly processed carbohydrates – 
    • They digest quickly but tend to leave us feeling unsatisfied.
    • They have been stripped of nutrients and tend to carry sodium and industrial chemicals.
    • They stimulate our appetite and leave us wanting more.
    • They can cause fluctuations in our blood sugar and insulin levels.

The amount of carbs that an individual needs is based on several different factors:

  • How big or small someone is
  • How much lean mass or body fat they have
  • How active they are
  • How intense, long-lasting, and/or frequent that activity is
  • How old they are, and what stage of life they’re at
  • Intake levels of other macronutrients
  • Genetics
  • What foods they like, tolerate, and prefer to eat

When choosing what carbs to eat, keep the following ideas in mind: We thrive best on a mix of carbohydrate types that occur naturally (keyword – naturally) in different types of foods. In most cases, we want to eat relatively slower-digesting, higher-fiber carbohydrates, which we can get if we choose a wide selection of diverse, whole, less-processed foods, such as fruits and root vegetables, whole grains, and beans and legumes. Occasionally, faster-digesting, lower-fiber carbohydrates can be helpful, particularly for athletes or people looking to gain weight. 

How many carbs should you eat daily? As a starting point, try to eat 1 to 2 cupped handfuls of carbohydrates per meal. For highly active people, try eating 3 or more handfuls of carbohydrates per meal or adding more meals (since larger portions can be hard to digest in one sitting). 


Most people tend to stay away from fat in their diets because they think that it is what causes them to gain weight. However, this is not necessarily the case. Fat has several important jobs in the body and is therefore a necessity of a well-balanced diet. Dietary fat has 6 major roles:

  • It provides us with energy (in fact, it is the most energy-dense macronutrient).
  • It helps make and balance hormones, particularly our steroid hormones.
  • It forms cell membranes.
  • It forms our brain and nervous system. 
  • It helps transport important vitamins.
  • It gives us two fatty acids that we can’t make on our own.

See? Fat is extremely important!

Some healthy sources of fat include:

  • Avocado and avocado oil
  • Cacao (dark chocolate)
  • Fresh coconut and coconut oil
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Olives and extra virgin olive oil

We know that fat is good for us, but we also want to make sure that we aren’t eating too much fat. Once again, you can use your hand as a measuring tool. For most people, they only need 1 to 2 thumb-size portions of fat-dense foods per meal. For highly active people, they need to be eating 2 to 3 thumb-size portions of fat per meal.

In summary, it is important to remember that we eat foods and meals, not nutrients. Therefore, eating a wider variety of whole foods will increase your chances of eating a more balanced, nutrient-dense diet. Each individual person will need a different amount of macros – there is not a one diet fits all approach, and their macro intake will depend on a variety of different factors. 

Intermittent Fasting: Diet Trend or Lasting Lifestyle Choice?

There are a lot of “buzz words” out there and diet trends that constantly claim to be the best method for losing weight, gaining muscle, getting leaner, etc. One such “trend” that’s been circulating the health world is the phrase ‘intermittent fasting’. The idea of fasting has been around hundreds of years, but the idea of ‘intermittent fasting’ first burst on the scene in 2012 with the TV documentary Eat Fast, Live Longer and has subsequently grown in popularity in the years that followed. 

Fast-forward to the present, and intermittent fasting has become a staple in the CrossFit community. In fact, one of the most famous CrossFit athletes of all time, THE Rich Froning himself, has found great success with intermittent fasting. So, if it’s a method of eating adopted by the greats, is it something that you should be doing as well? Let’s look at the basic facts and then you can determine if intermittent fasting is right for you. 

First of all, it’s important to note that intermittent fasting differs from other dieting methods because the focus isn’t so much on what to eat, but when to eat. A very simple definition of intermittent fasting is that it is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of eating and fasting. Therefore, the focus isn’t so much on what types of foods to eat or avoid, but the timing of meals throughout the day. 

There are actually several different types of intermittent fasting, but the following three methods have become the most popular:

  • The 16/8 Method: this is also known as the Leangains protocol and involves skipping breakfast and keeping your daily eating period to 8 hours (such as between 1-9pm). Then you fast for the next 16 hours until your next eating period.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat: This method involves fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week. An example of this would be to not eat from dinner one night to dinner the next day. 
  • The 5:2 Diet: For this method, 5 days of the week follow a normal eating schedule and on the other two days, you only consume 500-600 calories (however, these should be two non-consecutive days). 

All of these methods do involve reducing your caloric intake (whether it be by purposely eating less calories on a couple days a week or restricting the time you take in meals) which should cause weight loss as long as you don’t compensate by over-eating during the eating periods. The 16/8 method is the most commonly used because it is the simplest and often fits into peoples’ lives the best. 

Finally, it is important to note that there are several health benefits to intermittent fasting. For starters, intermittent fasting can reduce blood pressure, markers of inflammation, oxidative stress, insulin resistance, and risk of cancer. It can also increase cellular turnover and repair, fat burning, growth-hormone release, and metabolic rate. It also improves appetite control, blood-sugar control, cardiovascular function, and neurogenesis and neuronal plasticity. 



Protein? Why You Need It and Genius Ideas to Get It

If you are an avid gym-goer, you’ve probably been asked the question “What kind of protein powder do you use?” This is a common question among most exercisers because of the common knowledge that protein is an important part of one’s diet. But sometimes it can be difficult to find healthy ways to get enough protein in order to keep up with your ever-increasing gains. Protein bars and shakes can be a good option to help increase protein intake, but oftentimes these also contain large amounts of sugar and other ingredients that our bodies could do without. Before we talk about some ingenious ways to get more protein without relying on unnecessary supplements, shakes, or bars, let’s quickly discuss why protein is so important for your body.

Protein is one of the three main macronutrients (carbohydrates and fat are the other two). Protein is made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks for almost everything in our bodies. They can be broken down and re-assembled in many different ways. However, our body does not store extra amino acids so the protein that we intake is always getting used and recycled. Therefore, if we don’t get enough protein, our body will start taking it from other parts that we actually need (like our muscles) so it’s important that we replenish lost protein by eating enough of it. 

Most people know that they need protein every day, but they’re unsure of just how much. The answer to this question can be a bit complicated and depends on several different factors. A good to place to start is the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), which can be calculated using the following formula: 0.8 g/kg (0.36 g/lbs). For example, a 150-lb person (68kg) would need 150 x 0.36 (or 68 x 0.8) or approximately 54g of protein per day. This generally works out to be about 10% of an individual’s daily caloric intake. However, the RDA is a very broad recommendation and doesn’t take into account many important factors, such as one’s carbohydrate intake, biological sex, age, when protein is eaten, what kind of activities are done, etc. For a more accurate protein recommendation, a nutrition professional can calculate the correct macro breakdown based on an individual’s weight, activity level, age, fitness goals, etc. 

Once you have a more accurate macro number for how much protein is needed daily, trying to actually meet that number can become difficult. Oftentimes, athletes have no issue getting enough fat, and can usually get enough carbohydrates as well, but usually struggle to find ways to eat enough protein. Here are several ingenious ways to add more protein to your diet:

  • Add Greek yogurt to your eggs – seriously. If you like to eat scrambled eggs for breakfast, add a serving of Greek yogurt for some extra protein. Added bonus: it will make your eggs more fluffy!
  • Use Greek yogurt as a sour cream substitute!
  • Eat more beans! That’s right…black beans, lentils, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, etc. can be added to a salad, soups, a burrito bowl, or even a veggie scramble. 
  • Snack on hummus. This is great to dip vegetables and/or pita chips in. 


30 Minute Butter Chicken Meatballs

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Servings: 6

Calories: 212 kcal


  • 1 lb. ground turkey or chicken
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 T. garam masala
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 1 can (14 ounces) full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup plain greek
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • steamed rice and naan, for serving


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Add the turkey, egg, bread crumbs, and a pinch each of salt and pepper to a bowl. Coat your hands with a bit of olive oil, and roll the meat into tablespoon size balls (will make 15-20 meatballs), placing them on the prepared baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the meatballs are crisp and cooked through.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook 5 minutes or until fragrant. Add the garlic and ginger, cooking another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Stir in the garam masala, curry powder, turmeric, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the tomato paste, coconut milk, and 1/2 cup water. Stir to combine, bring the sauce to a boil, cook 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly. Stir in the yogurt and butter. Add the meatballs and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro.
  6. Serve the meatballs and sauce over bowls of rice with fresh naan. Enjoy!


Meal Prep Woes? Try This Super Yummy Recipe!

Summer: the hectic, crazy, busy time of year where you are driving like a maniac to pick up one kid from basketball camp, drop another kid off at VBS, and take another kid to a friend’s house for a playdate, all while trying not to lose your marbles. On top of this madness brought on by your kids, you have to figure out some way to keep them fed as well. 

Maybe you don’t have kids yet, but you are trying to balance 50-60 hours at the office every week, squeeze in an hour in the evening to hit the gym, and get at least six hours of sleep every night. By the time you finally get home in the evenings, all you want to do is take a quick shower and then hit the hay. Making something to eat is the last thing on your mind. 

When life gets too crazy for you to even breathe, how are you supposed to have enough time to cook meals for the week, let alone meals that are healthy? The fitness community constantly raves about the benefits of meal prepping on the weekends, but even this task can seem incredibly daunting. So, what’s the solution? This super easy, super yummy, super healthy shredded chicken recipe: 

Healthy Crockpot Shredded Chicken


  • 2 lbs frozen chicken breasts (about 4 breasts)
  • 1.25 oz. taco seasoning packet (about 1/4 cup)
  • 4.5 oz. mild diced green chiles 
  • 1 1/2 cups mild salsa or medium salsa


  • Place all ingredients into a crockpot and cook on high for 4-5 hours or until chicken is cooked thoroughly and will shred easily.
  • Remove chicken from crockpot and shred, removing any fat.
  • Place back into the crockpot and stir with remaining liquid. Cover and keep warm in the crockpot until ready to serve.

Nutrition Facts (amount per serving; makes 6 servings):

  • Calories – 206
  • Total Fat – 4g
  • Total Carbohydrates – 8g
  • Sugar – 39
  • Protein – 33g

Combine this shredded chicken with brown rice, black beans, a little bit of guacamole, pico de gayo, greek yogurt, and a smidgeon of cheese, and you have yourself a delicious burrito bowl that rivals those of Chipotle!

*Recipe taken from*

Early Morning Exerciser? What You Should Eat to Get the Most Out of Your Workout

We’ve all been there…a faint beeping is going off in your subconscious. It starts getting louder and louder as you’re being pulled out of a sweet dream and you realize, to your dismay, that it’s your alarm clock, not the oven letting you know your pizza is done. Immediately, disappointment and for some, anger, washes over you as you slowly start to realize that it is now time to wake up and face the day, starting with a workout at the gym. Your stomach starts to growl and you wonder if you can make it through the next hour without eating anything, or if you should risk eating the leftover giant pancake in the fridge and increase the chances of puking during your workout.

One of the hardest things about being an early morning exerciser is knowing what to eat before you hit the gym. Most articles or blogs about pre-workout nutrition suggest eating a full meal 1-2 hours before you workout. However, this is often unrealistic because most early morning exercisers do not set their alarms early enough before their scheduled workout time to eat a pre-workout meal. Instead, they refrain from eating anything before they workout, which can actually do more harm than good.

There is a common held belief that not eating before a workout will actually help you lose weight because your body will be forced to burn fat for fuel. However, this is a myth. When your body is deprived of sugar (glucose) which it uses for training, it starts burning muscle tissue to make up for it. A study published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal looked at cyclists who ate before their workout versus those who didn’t. It found that both groups burned the same amount of fat, but the group that didn’t eat before their workout had 10% of their calorie burn come from protein. In layman’s terms, the cyclists were losing muscle because their body was not getting its fuel from the correct source.

    It is also important to note that your body needs energy to be able to work out at a high intensity. It is common knowledge that high intensity training yields the most health and fitness benefits. If you haven’t fueled your body properly before a high intensity workout, then your body won’t have the same amount of strength, speed, or stamina than if you had eaten something beforehand. Therefore, in order to obtain the best physical results and get the most out of your workout, it is extremely important that you are feeding your body the proper nutrients.

    So, what should you eat 30-45 minutes before you workout? First of all, it is important to keep your pre-workout snack light. You want to eat something that has mostly simple carbs (these can be easily digested in a short amount of time) and a little bit of protein. Here are some ideas for pre-workout snacks:

  • Banana (.3g fat, 22.8g carbs, 1.1g protein)
  • Greek Yogurt (Dannon Oikos Triple Zero – 0g fat, 15g carbs, 15g protein)
  • Half a bagel (Dave’s Killer Bread Epic Bagel (half) – 2.25g fat, 23.5g carbs, 6g protein)
  • Granola Bar (Kind Peanut Butter Banana Dark Chocolate Protein Breakfast Bars – 11g fat, 25g carbs, 8g protein)

You can now breathe a sigh of relief. You don’t have to set your alarm clock any earlier in order to eat something before you workout. Just grab a quick snack before you head out the door so you’re ready to crush your workout when you get to the gym!

Debunking 5 Diets

What should I eat? How much can I eat? And when can I eat it?

These are 3 questions that always seem to pop up in a world where we all want a physical and mental edge in performance and having the perfect diet is a key component of that. Let’s explore some of the popular diets in the fitness world right now.

  1. The Ketogenic Diet aka “Keto”



Your body relies on glucose for fuel. If there’s no glucose easily available your body needs to find a new way to fuel itself. This happens through the breakdown of fats and proteins. Originally discovered back in the 1920’s as a treatment for epilepsy, the ketogenic diet has become widely popular as it can help practitioners lose weight quickly and provides mental clarity.


There are a lot of great high fat foods that can still be consumed (did somebody say bacon?!)


Limiting carb and protein intake requires some specific portioning of food. Measuring ketone levels through blood, breath, or urine is not the highlight of anyone’s day.

  1. “Whole 30”


This diet is completed as a 30 day challenge that allows only whole foods (meats, vegetables, some fruits, and some healthy fats). This diet focuses on the “What” you should eat but is less concerned with “How much” and “When” making it a popular option for novice dieters.


By eliminating processed foods from your diet you give your digestive tract a much needed break. Most folks report higher energy levels. No measuring of portions saves time.


You have to accept that you’re going to be a boring dinner date for the month.

  1. “Macro Diet”


Ignore the “What” you eat in all but the broadest sense. That is, you only account for the macronutrient makeup of food in terms of fat, carbohydrate, and protein. Focus in on the ratio or total number of calories taken in to hit a total daily macronutrient intake based on your training goals and calories required.


Eating donuts after a workout without feeling guilty can be a huge relief


Poor dietary choices could lead to micronutrient deficiencies. Frequent consumption of high glycemic carbohydrates could lead to insulin resistance.

  1. “Intermittent Fasting”


This diet focuses specifically on the “When” component of eating. Generally practiced by consuming all meals in a maximum 8 hour time window. This might look like skipping breakfast and consuming all calories between 12:00 pm and 8:00 pm followed by 16 hours of fasting. Many individuals pair this methodology with foods that would be considered “keto” or “whole 30” approved.


A smaller window of time to eat during means fewer calories consumed by most people. The long fasting period can lead to increased fat burning.


Some people have a difficult time adhering to the strict time windows that provide the alleged benefits.

  1. Vertical Diet


This diet focuses on the “What” you can eat with foods broken down into daily micronutrient required foods and daily macronutrient foods where steak and white rice help you hit your required caloric intake. Caloric consumption is increased based on training volume and goals. Additionally this diet eliminates some unique foods like legumes, onion, and garlic that are considered high FODMAP (fermentable oligo-, di-, and monosaccharide and polyol) foods.


This diet can be a great starting point for someone who has difficulty meeting macronutrient requirements or is new to dieting.


The extreme lack of variability in food choices make this diet a bit boring to follow. It’s very possible that micronutrient deficiencies could occur by following the same simple foods long term.

What Are The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?

You’ve probably heard of one of the most popular diets in the nutrition world right now, intermittent fasting (IF). Though this type of diet certainly isn’t new, the fad-ish uprising of it’s popularity have left a great deal of guru’s, buzz words, and misinformation floating around on the internet. However when celebrities like Beyonce, Terry Crews, and Hugh Jackman swear by a diet it is definitely worth giving a try, right. Today we’re going to break down some of the facts about intermittent fasting. You can decide if it’s right for you!

Before we get into the benefits of intermittent fasting it’s important to know how it works. There are many different protocols and standards that define the versions of this diet. The parameters that most people adjust include:

  • Time, when to eat and when not to. Most protocols recommend a ratio of 16 hour fast to 8 hours of eating. This could look like skipping breakfast and eating your first meal of the day at 12pm. You then have until 8 pm to eat.
  • What counts as fasting, if you’re in your fasting window are you allowed to consume anything? Most diets encourage water during the fast. Many also allow black coffee or tea (hold the cream and sugar) during the fast. Outside of these beverages, some people also consume coconut oil, BCAA drinks, or ketone supplements. This will depend on your goals and the approach you take.
  • What to eat during meals. This is dependent on the types and frequency of foods that work best for you. If you practice intermittent fasting you will benefit the most by adhering to a diet that eliminates inflammatory foods and refined carbohydrates.

Intermittent Fasting claims to have a great deal of benefits and many people have found it works great for them. There are also a great deal of myths or areas that still need to be verified by science. Most of the benefits of intermittent fasting seem to have more of a correlation with successful diets rather than to be the primary causal factor. As we work our way through the many claimed benefits of IF let’s address what benefits you can count on and which ones to put to the test.

Lower Insulin Resistance/Increase Insulin Sensitivity

If you hear insulin resistance I’m sure you’re thinking two things. One, I know that is important. Two, I don’t have diabetes so how does it apply to me?? Insulin is a hormone responsible for regulating the amount of energy (glucose) in the blood stream. By lowering insulin resistance, the body improves its ability to store extra glucose as glycogen (ready to use energy) in the muscle rather than as fat. Intermittent fasting reduces the bodies exposure to energy fluxuations, making it more sensitive when you do eat a meal.

You can burn fat while gaining muscle

This is one of those difficult to navigate situations. The fact is that going 16 hours or more without eating will make your body more reliant on fat as a fuel source. The major factor to consider is that the biggest player in gaining or losing both fat and muscle is energy balance. Intermittent fasting combined with healthy food choices and consistent exercise will produce the desired results, but if you’re consuming more calories than your body needs the calories will contribute to both muscle and fat gain.

Better dietary adherence

Many people love to use intermittent fasting simply because it is a great fit for their lifestyle.

Reasons for this vary from one person to another, but one of the key reasons seems to be that it reduces decision fatigue. Most people find themselves making poor dietary choices when they are either in a hurry or tired. By eliminating decision making around food it becomes easier to plan for one or two healthy meals in a day. Food becomes less of a focal point. You start eating to live, not living to eat.

Improve mental clarity

This ties into the powerful effects of insulin on the body. After a meal our body secretes insulin to maintain blood sugar levels in the body. When we are constantly eating we are dependent on a steady supply of glucose to feel energized and awake. Too long without food or an imbalanced meal causes the dreaded brain fog you’ve probably felt an hour or so after lunch. Many people report being more alert and focused when adapted to an intermittent fasting diet.

Give your gut a rest

A continuous diet of hard to digest foods can leave our digestive tract operating at less than optimal capacity. This leads to low energy levels, poor digestion, and a general inflammatory state. Intermittent fasting gives digestive enzymes and the healthy bacteria in our gut to build up stabilize.

Save time

This benefit of IF is about as straightforward as it gets. Eating fewer meals and/or at fewer times of the day will save you time. Not only that but you’d be surprised how much time gets wasted on meals when you’re trying to fit in 5-6 small meals per day. Without the interruption of food you’ll have more time for other activities.

Save money

This goes hand in hand with saving time. Fewer meals means more money saved. Even if you are eating bigger portions for lunch and dinner it means a smaller grocery bill and fewer days of the month you have to eat out.

As we’ve addressed some of the benefits of intermittent fasting we also need to play devil’s advocate to why it might now be the right choice for you. Let’s take a look at why you should not try intermittent fasting…

Some populations that may want to avoid IF would be individuals who have had issues with yo-yo dieting, overeating, binge eating, or make poor dietary choices. Some practitioners of intermittent fasting have reported an obsession with food or constant daydreaming about eating during their restricted hours. It is important to consult with your doctor before making any major change to your health including a significant shift in your diet.

Other individuals who may want to steer clear of IF would be individuals who are not consuming sufficient nutrients to address a specific health condition or goal. These could include specific micronutrients like vitamins or minerals. Children, teenagers or anyone who needs more total calories to gain weight may not be able to consume enough food during the limited time window associated with intermittent fasting. If you are a hardgainer, increasing your training volume for a sport, have a job that requires intense physical activity, or are in pregnancy this may not be the diet for you.

Hopefully highlighting some of the benefits of intermittent fasting has given you the information to see if you want to explore it further or shut it down like your high school prom date.