Great to see so many taking on this 30 day challenge! If you’re still unsure of what to set as a goal let us know and we’ll help you focus in on a good one. Thanks to everyone who came out on Saturday. I want to apologize for not getting to everyone’s questions; at times we got sidetracked from the original topic. We’ll follow up on those over the next few days.

Note: For everyone just embarking on this journey of Crossfit and dietary progression, you might want to file this one for future reference. Work on your food choices right now and don’t stress about amounts and percentages too much.

First follow-up is to Olivia’s question: Is a 30 day challenge long enough to see significant changes? Olivia, you were applying the question to strength gains. If the change is having an impact you should see some initial results within the first 30 days but more time will likely amplify benefits. Most human performance studies are in the range of 6-12 weeks. It’s my understanding that this time frame is a balance between the cost of longer studies and adequate time/data to demonstrate effect.

In this 10-week study comparing the effect of 2 different recovery drinks on muscle mass and strength (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15105028 ) the authors saw some small differences in muscle mass over the 10 weeks and the authors suggested that they might see additional gains if they continued beyond the 10 weeks.
Because you’ve already been following a pretty serious strength and Paleo program the results you’re going to see, as you already know, will be much smaller incrementally than for someone new to the game. Darn it – miss the days of huge jumps every time we did a CF Total, don’t you?!



1. Make a specific change and stick with it so you can evaluate at end of the challenge. As much as I’d love to give you a “this is the magic ticket” answer, it really does come down to individual response. Test, evaluate, adjust, retest.

2. Eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods (veggies, fruit, quality protein sources) to prevent illness, support repair of muscle damage and maintain the mental focus.

3. Minimize inflammation with focus on Paleo foods and avoiding/limiting seed/grain oils, grains especially wheat, sugar, dairy. Take a fish oil supplement.

4. Get enough calories and carbs to support 100% mental focus and effort during training sessions.

5. Get enough protein to maintain or build muscle mass (and enough calories to prevent the protein from being burned up as fuel).



2246181_300Dee – I think these guidelines will also apply to your question of how to build muscle/strength while maintaining current body fat levels.

Now do you need to log your food intake and measure every calorie and protein gram to see change? Definitely not. Focus on quality food first (I know you already do this). From there you can often make general adjustments in quantities, such as adding an extra piece of chicken to dinner to increase protein or some coconut oil in cooking to increase your calories. If you’re still not reaching your goals, consider logging food intake for several days to see what the numbers look like.

How much protein? Now there’s a hot button topic! Lots of debate out there both academically and in the trenches. Crossfit Football recommends 1.0g/lb body weight. Are your goals the same as a typical football player and are you training the same volume/intensity? It’s possible that the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommendation of 0.6-0.8g/lb of body weight might be a reasonable place to start for many of us. More to follow…

How many calories? We can hit this one a future post. Always great if you let appetite be your guide but I know some of you struggle to get enough calories in when you’re training hard. For now, here’s a link to get a ballpark idea: http://www.scientificpsychic.com/health/cron1.html. I’ve found it to be a reliable tool overall in spite of the calorie restriction focus.

I appreciate Dan giving me the opportunity to talk about this nutrition stuff but I’m not your only resource. We’ve got a bunch of well-read and experienced folks here at 717.  Let’s keep the conversation going here and in the box on a daily basis.

As I type this I can hear more questions popping up out there! What if I’m more endurance focused (I see a future post from Mike H here!)? What carb foods should I focus on? When should I eat? How many meals/day is best? What about protein supplements? If you’d like to hear about it, we will definitely take a look.  But right now I’ve got a bowl of chili with my name on it, and got to go!  Lots more to come!  stay tuned.

-Karen Polensky
717’s dietary guru