Eat to Perform for Crossfit.. and then eat a little less

by ~jenniferlynn on April 9, 2014

in CrossFit, Eattoperform, Food, Weight Lifting

If you remember not too long ago, I was boasting about using Eat To Perform for Crossfit, liberating myself from the paleo prison I was trapped in and opening my diet up to foods that not only make me feel better overall, but help to fuel my Crossfit performance. A plan that encouraged white rice and even suggested eating cereal before bedtime (a nostalgic habit that I grew up with). With the adjusted guidelines, I noticed plenty of changes in the box with better endurance, recovery, strength gains and PRs, but also witnessed some added scale weight.

The number on the scale itself never bothered me and my clothing fits fairly the same, though admittedly yoga pant type jeans are quite forgiving. But when I would do my typical post-shower flexing (everyone does this, right?), I could tell that I was retaining weight in my midsection, which brought back memories of my pre-paleo body. I ran across an article on Greatist that couldn’t have come at better timing about interpreting fluctuations in weight. After finding my place on the chart: increasing weight, increasing waist, increasing strength; I realized that despite being in a better place within the confines of the gym, I was likely in a calorie surplus. Bulking, yo! 😉

It had been awhile since I had a Bod Pod test done (last one was in July), so out of curiosity, I scheduled another one to evaluate if my current way of eating and training is in line with my goals. The results of the test confirmed my suspicion that my recent weight gain was more than just muscle gains; over 5# gained was fat. Yes, there was muscle gain as well, and despite hitting PRs and still feeling comfortable with my body (seriously, learn to love yourself at any stage and it makes life far more grand), I still felt like what I was doing may not be ideal, and some tweaking needed to be done.

After consulting the experts on the Eat to Perform forum and sharing my food logs, it was determined that I am consuming quite a bit of fat (um, hello daily avocado and copious amounts of Kerrygold), and overall consuming quite a bit more calories on days when carb-loading is not necessary. I also will confess that my baby sister works at a bakery, and I probably have consumed more gluten in the past three months than in the past year.. (But fresh-baked cinnamon raisin toast smothered in butter is sooo good)..

Now, it’s time to tweak. My new baseline template, with a TDEE of 2428 calories, is Protein: 150g, Carbs: 288g, Fats: 75g. On control days, carbs are reduced to 150g. This is still a considerable amount of food, though I may need to stop justifying little treats (ahem.. sour Starburst jellybeans..) here and there that I was before if I want to stick to my partially aesthetic-based goals. (To find out more specifics for your own use, you can check out the ETP Calculator).

I know a lot of people are against counting calories or measuring their food, and for many, it can be extremely time-consuming and stressful to do so! But for me, it has been a way to keep myself in check working towards a specific goal: maintaining or increasing muscle while losing some fat. Eat to Perform does not at all stress or endorse measuring and logging every morsel, though in the beginning, I think it can be a very useful tool to get an overall picture of how your current diet exists. If what you are doing today isn’t helping you to reach your goals, maybe consider logging what you eat for a short while and you may be surprised at what you can conclude!

Note that I am not a dietitian or nutritionist or anything, but I am excited to work with these new guidelines to see if it has the performance and aesthetic impact that I am hoping for, and you should tailor your eating and training habits to your own needs!

Your turn..
Have you considered Eat to Perform?

Do you ever tweak your diet for different goals?
What is your biggest dietary struggle?
Do you label your eating style?

Marissa @ Barefoot Colorado
Twitter: barefootcolo
April 9, 2014 at 5:56 pm

This was super interesting to read, Jennifer. I was always curious about the Eat To Perform plan and love that it’s doing great things for you! I always stress out about if I’m eating the RIGHT foods. But in reality, I feel like you can’t stress out about that. Eat what you enjoy in moderation (ice cream for the win!) and just eat REAL food. That’s what I’m living by lately! PS — You are seriously kicking butt at CrossFit. Like serious butt. 😉
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~jenniferlynn April 16, 2014 at 8:45 am

There is ALWAYS something to do better. I can always eat more veggies. Always eat more fermented foods. Eat more organic fruits. Blah blah blah. It’s all about finding that happy balance of what works best for you.

And thanks for the CF compliment!!! 🙂

Kristin April 9, 2014 at 6:14 pm

I have been struggling with my eating big time since starting crossfit a year ago. I have really never ate red meat or pork & for two years prior to crossfit I was a vegan. Enter crossfit & I am starving all the time. I brought back in fish & eggs for more protein & am gluten free most of the time but I have definitely put on non muscle weight (nice way to say fat) since I started lifting. I have been considering eat to perform just not sure I could follow it seems complicated. I’ve read a ton about Paleo & like the ideas but I just can’t eat beef, chicken, or pork. Thank you for sharing your thoughts I find your blog very helpful!

~jenniferlynn April 16, 2014 at 8:44 am

I think it’s difficult to sustain such a high level of physical activity by eating mostly paleo, and couldn’t imagine not eating meat just because I don’t think I would get nearly enough protein. Not saying you can’t, and I know plenty that do, I just would have a hard time.

ETP isn’t bad at all! Basically it’s about timing your carbs around your workouts, and making sure you are eating enough calories. Eventually your body is supposed to turn into a fat burning machine.. we’ll see!

Bethany lee
Twitter: bethanyjolee
April 9, 2014 at 7:23 pm

Yes–this is very interesting. I’ve seen you mention etp before but it sounds like you get a lot of support there. I really need to check it out. Anyway, I love your blog. It is always so interesting and it has been super interesting to see you progress over the last couple of years. Jeep rocking it, girl!!

~jenniferlynn April 16, 2014 at 8:43 am

Thanks, Bethany!! I’m happy you have been on my journey with me all this time! 🙂

Danielle @ It's a Harleyyy Life
Twitter: itsaharleyylife
April 10, 2014 at 6:38 am

Very interesting! Thank you for sharing! I have been feeling the same thing lately (more jiggly in the midsection. It is so annoying (especially cause I have 24 days to fit into my wedding dress). I’m definitely eating more since I upped my CrossFit game and I’m fine with that… I just don’t know what is doing it because its obviously more than just muscle gain.
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~jenniferlynn April 16, 2014 at 8:42 am

So hard to balance sometimes! You’re going to look amazing in your wedding dress anyway.. you work out! 😉

I think I just justified eating more than I need to.. now that we are coming out of the deep freeze of winter, I think it’ll be easier to get more active instead of just sitting on the couch hibernating all of the time, too!

Renee April 10, 2014 at 3:11 pm

My eating has been bad lately and yet I’m embracing it. Paleo and Whole 30 are good for me but hard to stick with. Do what makes you happy and makes you feel like your BEST! This was really interesting to read by the way. Great post!
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~jenniferlynn April 16, 2014 at 8:41 am

Thanks, Renee! Yes, absolutely need to find what works best for you! I love the idea of Whole30 and paleo.. and recommend anyone struggling with weight loss or any sort of health issues to give it a shot. But with such a high level of activity like we both do, it just doesn’t always make sense to be so restrictive. I know it works for some, but I will continue to eat my rice! 😉

Jeannine April 11, 2014 at 10:08 am

Thanks for the update! 🙂 I’ve done the 1g per pound of protien when I did a 12 week strength program at my CF so I know I can do that…adding the carbs in is what is going to be interesting. I am in the same boat – maintain/increase muscle and lose fat. I of course gained weight during the strength program. I made huge gains in my lifts and can now do 2 strict pull ups (yay!) but I definitely have more fat too!

~jenniferlynn April 16, 2014 at 8:39 am

Congrats on the pullups! Sounds like time to tweak things just a little bit for both of us!

Heather April 15, 2014 at 3:20 pm

I have been struggling with my eating since Christmas. Prior to that I was strict Paleo for a year, and felt great but hard to stick with consistently. I have been very curious about ETP and have been checking them out regularly and “toying” with the idea of joining. The part that worries me is that it looks confusing and complicated. Is the ETP program time consuming and lots of work? I am willing to put in the effort, but I do not want it to be all consuming (I have battled against an eating disorder in the past).
Would love your feedback!

~jenniferlynn April 16, 2014 at 8:38 am

Once you get a baseline idea of how you eat today, ETP can be fairly simple. I eat a lot of the same things everyday, so it’s pretty easy to figure out where to tweak.

What I love most is even though you’re technically paying for the book (which explains a lot of the why/how to eat this way), you also get full access to their online support forum. Their moderators will answer anything and everything about your training, meals, meal timing, etc. I can send them my workout schedule and meals and they’ll tell me oh, try this.. or try less of this.. more of this.. etc. Then check back in a few weeks and tweak even further. It’s not hard to follow but sometimes is so much easier to modify things when you have another set of eyes on it.

Would love to know how it goes if you choose to do it!

Samantha Angela
Twitter: SamanthaAngela
April 16, 2014 at 11:12 am

I operate much better on about 50% carbs when it comes to weightlifting. Even when I drop down to about 40% I notice a drop in energy.

From what I have read, unless you’re a newbie you’re probably not going to be able to isolate building muscle and not putting on fat. You have to eat more to gain and with those gains will come fat. I think it’s awesome that you’re bulking up.
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~jenniferlynn April 16, 2014 at 11:21 am

Thanks, Samantha! 🙂 It’s a weird thing to consciously gain weight and accept it; but been happy with the results thus far. I am going to try and tweak it and see what happens when I drop total cals, but if I see performance declines, will need to re-evaluate for sure!

K April 17, 2014 at 9:32 am

Interesting. Carb backloading and carb cycling were mentioned at Paleo f(x) a few times – and the new sort of “in” thing seems to be the whole “carb nite” thing from Kiefer. (Have you heard of it? Basically ketogenic diet for a certain number of days, and then one night every week or so where you eat a ton of carbs.)

I just tried the ETP calculator but I’m not sure I did it right because it gave me: TDEE 2349, Protein 122, Carbs 50, Fat 188 (how is it possible to eat that much fat?? haha)
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~jenniferlynn April 17, 2014 at 9:34 am

I’m digging the idea.. and a lot less “guilt” about eating rice/oatmeal, too.

TDEE sounds right; I’d set protein to be your BW, fat to be 75g, then solve for carbs.. and that’s what you aim for on a workout day.

Then on non-workout, aim for protein BW, carbs ~150g, fat ~75g.

Sandy A April 18, 2014 at 8:36 pm

I just found this blog and I am glad I did! I just started ETP. I have been doing CF for almost 2 years, and although I am a lot stronger than when I first started, I just havent made the gains i thought i should. After reading about ETP, I realized I actually had to EAT to make gains! LOL! I was a runner for years and years (basically 2 decades) and when you are a runner, the goal is to be a light as possible to propel yourself down the road easier. Particularly when running distances. It was hard for me to get away from that mindset, but after only 10 days of ETP I can already tell I am getting stronger and definitely have better WOD recovery, but I’ve already had to tweak my calories like you did because I could tell I was getting “thick” (to me, anyway). It’s something to play with, I can tell, to find that “sweet spot”.

Cj July 16, 2014 at 10:27 am

Love your blog! I just started etp a few weeks ago. I was in The same boat as you…way too much fat and scared to eat carbs. I’m still just trying it out (upping protein and adding in carbs) but have already hit several prs and lost an inch in my waist. Going to keep trying for a full month to see where it takes me!
Thanks for your posts!

~jenniferlynn July 16, 2014 at 10:29 am

Definitely takes some adjusting!

I am back in a happy place with it; enjoying the carbs without any sort of guilt behind it; feeling stronger than ever!

Thanks for reading!!

Graham August 22, 2014 at 9:47 pm

I have been doing CF for about a year now and I have seen a lot of muscle gain and some fat loss. I am not nearly where I want to be though. My biggest issue is that I do CF at 5 am. So I wake up at 4 am and I need guidance on how to fuel my body for CF at 4 am and for the rest of the day. Maybe this will help me.

~jenniferlynn August 22, 2014 at 10:00 pm

It’s all about trial and error, but for that schedule, they would suggest not eating anything in the morning; use some caffeine and maybe just some BCAAs intraworkout. Then eat protein+carbs post workout.. no carbs during the day, then load more carbs around dinnertime and after dinner (prepping for the next day).

It will take some time for your body to adjust, but they assume the carbs at night will still be active and ready to go for the morning. Give it a try and see how it goes!

Amber December 1, 2014 at 7:16 pm

Hi. I signed up for ETP in time for the October challenge and was VERY impressed with their coaching support. My struggle with ETP is trying to figure out a meal plan. Do you have a plan that I could look at? I am suppose to get roughly 2500 cal and struggle to eat that much real food. Cereal is awesome! But I didnt like how I felt when my waist was getting thicker. I am fine with my weight and body but want more energy during the wod. And easier recovery. Any help would be appreciated! Also…have you done any recent stats for yourself? I would be interested to see if you are still happy with the process. Thanks!!

~jenniferlynn December 2, 2014 at 9:10 am

Thanks for the comment Amber! Yes, the coaching support is great!

I use MyFitnessPal to log.. you can find me @winetoweights on there if you want to stalk my daily diary. I am usually poor with updating it on the weekends, but during the week pretty on point. Lately, it’s a lot of pie… haha.

I had another bod pod done just over a month ago and I’m at my lowest bodyfat; I believe I weighed in around 136, 22.2% BF. To some, that may seem high, but I feel comfortably lean and stronger than ever 🙂

AngelaUrsery February 26, 2015 at 2:10 am

Thanks for this summary of Eat to Perform essentials. One thing I don’t understand (and wasn’t able to find out much on the E2P website, or elsewhere, for that matter) is why there is still such a large deficit between what I expend and what the E2P calculator suggests.
Here’s an example: I lift 4X weekly for strength training and bodybuilding; I often walk for an hour those days, as well (oops! have no idea why this is right justified…). On those days, I’ll expend (according to Fat Secret, my food and exercise tracker) about 2790 calories. According to E2P, I should be eating 2386 calories on those days–about a 400 calorie deficit. I’m not clear on why I would be eating at a deficit at all on lifting days. (This formatting is driving me crazy! Am going to stop now). Thanks in advance for your help.

~jenniferlynn February 26, 2015 at 8:09 am

Your formatting looks okay I’m not sure how you know what you are actually expending. eTP will use an approximate number based on your activity level and I’m guessing fat secret does something similar?

It doesn’t make sense to eat at a deficit for sure.

I’d suggest trying or the ETP numbers for two weeks and see how you feel in terms of energy, hunger.

Michelle Z March 11, 2015 at 7:35 pm

Sorry for the late comment but I have been doing ETP as well and following the blog since november and I think their calculator is insanely high! I think the people bulk too quick where the gain fat. I also think the people in the forum do not place enough emphasis on nutrient dense foods when not around training. Don’t get me wrong I love the balance that ETP can introduce especially to those on low carb or strict(ish) paleo(ish) diets that can become very consuming and rigid. I wanted to know if that extra 5 lbs of fat ever came off. What is your experience now with it? Nutrition is all trial and error everyone has different needs and what I loved about ETP was that you learn about yourself to find those needs but it seems a bit grey in the forum. I would love an updated ETP follow up blog post if you are still doing it or ended it (or even still blogging)

~jenniferlynn March 11, 2015 at 8:05 pm

Thanks for the comment! I still eat around 2400 but am putting in a lot more Oly lifting.

I should write a post soon! I’ve been holding steady for months at 137# I loosened up my diet even more (eat cereal often, some baked goods, post wod pancakes).. Feel leaner and stronger

stephanie June 20, 2016 at 2:54 am

That’s music to my ears, I’ll definately choose it if one can lose weight by eating. Like exercising, eating to perform also needs proper guidence and strict execution. when I was researching how to lose weight, I find this site which shows another aspect of losing weight.
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~jenniferlynn August 26, 2016 at 11:44 am

Thanks for reading and visiting, Stephanie!! 😀

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