The Glycemic Index

“Low GI, High GI”, “blood sugar, “Blood Glucose”, “Insulin Spike”.. all terms that are thrown around a lot, but do most people understand what they mean, or does it even really matter?

Like most topics in the fitness industry, ‘Glycemic Index’ is highly controversial with many arguing either end of the spectrum like their lives (social media credibility) depend on it.

Basically, the glycemic index is a way to rank foods by how quickly and significantly they raise your blood sugar levels.

In theory, Low GI foods will absorb more slowly into your body and will have a smaller effect on blood glucose levels and insulin response, meaning your energy will be more stable throughout the day & keeping insulin levels low will result in greater fat loss. For this reason, many believe that Lower GI foods are ‘better’ than high GI foods for achieving fat loss goals, or even maintaining a lean physique.

This is a reasonable assumption, however, it doesn’t take into account some critical aspects, including; The energy balance equation (calories in vs calories out) or a real understanding of insulin response.

Side note* Insulin is a hormone in the body that is secreted by the pancreas to control the amount of sugar in your blood by transporting it (glucose) from the blood into tissues such as muscle, fat cells and/or the liver.

The scientific research shows us that;

  • Protein also stimulates insulin secretion (not just carbs)

  • Food factors like plant variety, ripeness, processing and cooking method can change where a food falls on the glycemic index.Your bodies glycemic response to one food is impacted by other food types & quantities you’ve eaten within the same meal, or that day.

  • Weight, blood volume and metabolic rate differ greatly between individuals, which will cause the glycemic response of foods to differ greatly as well.

  • As long as healthy individuals remain in an energy deficit (calories in vs calories out) the net fat loss will be unaffected over the course of the day/week.

  • In terms of satiety (hunger), what specifically reduces hunger varies person to person, however, we can’t argue the fact that Whole, minimally processed foods are definitely our best choices here.

Based on what we currently know about the G.I., Healthy individuals won’t need to pay attention to it.

It’s another thing to worry/stress about and i think at this point, we’ve probably all got enough of that!

Stick to the basics. The proven basics that work, time and time again.

Eat mostly whole, unprocessed, nutritious foods that you enjoy and work for you. Eat quantities that support your goals (cals in vs cals out) and are sustainable long term.

Consistency and adherence over perfect, every time.

Fuelling For The Crossfit Open

Fuelling for the Crossfit Open.

The Open is almost upon us! It snuck up very quick!! After the Open earlier this year, a lot of us have spent our time trying to improve our fitness in the hope that we can better ourselves in this next test!

That means five weeks of max effort to achieve our best score possible. To perform our best and capitalise on all of that hard work, we need to consider everything that affects performance. The 3 biggest players are going to be Sleep, nutrition & hydration.

The Open can get extremely demanding on our bodies. Over the 5 week period, we are giving our max effort, sometimes multiple times per week (if/when we decide we need to ‘redo’ ;-)) ⁣. If we want our bodies to perform and take on this extra stress, then we have to prioritise not only our recovery, but also how we’re fuelling ourselves. Since you’re going to be demanding a lot from your body, ensure you’re giving it what it requires in return.

Neglecting any of these aspects over the next 5 weeks (well anytime really) could negatively affect our performance and/or recovery, meaning we’re not putting ourselves in the best position to capitalise on our hard work.

So how do we approach the coming 5 weeks to ensure we’re ready to perform?

Firstly, we want to prioritise our sleep and hydration. The simple things. I mean, we should already have these ‘optimised’, but lets be honest, most of us could do better. Maybe now is a great time to start building good habits around these critical aspects of performance… or life.

Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep. Emphasis on quality. See a previous post we’ve done on optimising sleep, but essentially we need to set ourselves up for a good sleep (there it is again, ‘plan for success’. seems to be a common trend :-) ). This may mean, winding down at night with a book instead of social media. Keeping your room dark and cool. Removing any screens and/or blue light 30-60 mins before bed.

I love the quote;

‘If you could bottle 10 hours of quality sleep, it would be a banned substance’

Hydrate adequately, especially when you’re training hard as well as coming into the warmer months. this is such an easy ‘hack’ that will have huge results. Lads, aim for min 3L of water per day. Ladies, aim for at least 2L of water per day.

Drink water like its your job.

In terms of eating; We want to be focussing on a few key things. Again, this isn’t really going to be any different to how we should be approaching our nutrition every day, however, maybe with the little added motivation of performing better in the Open, we can start forming these habits and carry them on through.

Focus on food quality. We want to make sure we’re eating a wide variety of whole, unprocessed, fresh foods. This will help us ensure we’re getting our micronutrients in which are essential for performance and recovery, but also, help combat inflammation, which, we want to manage as best we can during this stressful period on our bodies.

Do not be afraid of eating! Think of food as fuel, we need to fuel our bodies to perform. Guess what our bodies preferred fuel for High intensity training/ Metcons (Think…Crossfit) is? CARBS! Don’t shy away from them. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and veggies including starchy veggies such as potato & sweet potato. Consider rice as well as oatmeal as some other great choices. Don’t forget quality protein sources such as chicken, fish, beef, eggs, protein powders to help with recovery and include your ‘healthy’ fats (olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, avocados) to assist in keeping our hormones in check.

To dive a little deeper, here are some general pointers that seem to work well for most;

We want to fuel up for our workouts. Specifically, carbohydrates to ensure we top up our glycogen stores. The science suggests it takes up to 48hrs to replenish our glycogen stores. In practice this may look like;

Say we want to hit our Open workout at ‘Friday Night Lights’ , so we’ll train Wednesday, rest Thursday and hit the workout on the Friday. What we want to do is make sure we’re eating up a little on the Thursday (yes, even though you’re ‘resting’) and the Friday. Eating up doesn’t mean going crazy. What it means is we’re looking to add potentially an extra 40-100G of carbs to our day (as a guide). This might mean an extra bowl of oats or another serving of rice at lunch and/or dinner. Whether you opt for 40g or 100g will depend upon your size, what you’re currently eating as well as whether your goal is mostly optimal performance in the open, or continuing on your weight loss/aesthetics journey.

⁣On the big day, we want to stick to the routine that works well for us. Don’t go making any drastic changes that could cause stomach upset etc. The priority, again, is ensuring we’re well fuelled for whats to come!

Ideally around 2hrs out, we want to try and get a decent meal of protein and carbs in (low fat). As a guide, somewhere between 40-80g of carbs (depending on your size etc) with a nice lean protein source. Think Oats and protein powder or chicken and rice, for example.

30mins to 1hr before, lets aim to get some faster digesting carbs in such as some fruit or even carb powder/ a sports drink.

IF you usually have some caffeine before you workout. consider getting this in ~30 mins before you go. If you don’t drink caffeine generally before training, i wouldn’t advise the open workouts as a time to test it out! Feel free to trial it in the days leading up to the open. Caffeine definitely has some proven performance benefits. Start with a small coffee and see how you go. Some pre workouts have upwards of 3 cups of coffees worth of caffeine in one serving!! Steer clear of that.

Post Workout. There are plenty of studies to suggest getting some protein and carbs in within an hour or so of finishing up your workout has benefits to your recovery time and process, which, if you plan on repeating workouts, will be a crucial component of a good second (or third) attempt. Try and stick to High Protein, High Carbs here. This will aid in muscle recovery as well as replenishing glycogen but be a bit easier to digest for your stressed out system.

If its going to be a while before you can get a meal in, Consider a protein shake with some carbs (fruit or carb powder) and then get a meal in when you are able. ⁣

One other important component to remember is that ‘The Open’ may conflict with some of your other health and fitness goals. We’ve discussed in a previous blog post that sometimes there can be a conflict between body composition and performance related goals. Trying to lose weight by being in a calorie deficit is not going to be conducive to optimal performance for highly demanding exercise.

What we have to do is decide on which goal is most important to us then understand & accept the outcomes of that decision. Want to perform optimally for 5 weeks? Maybe we’re aren’t going to drop weight over that time. Want to continue with your fat loss journey? Try your best in the workouts, but accept that perhaps you weren’t fuelled to perform at 110%.

GOOD LUCK!!

Veggie Oils. Yeah, or No Thank You?

Cooking oils

One commonly and easily overlooked aspect of health in relation to food, are oils. Specifically, Vegetable oils.

Why do we want to try and avoid vegetable oils? Veggie oils are highly processed, man-made substances, with the raw materials going through processes such as solvent extraction, involving petroleum solvents, chemical bleaches, and deodorants. Further to this, most vegetable oils are derived from genetically modified ingredients (GMO) and full of pesticides.

After some other reasons to consider avoiding veggie oils?

Ideally, we want a ratio of 1:1 omega-6 to omega-3 fats. Researchers believe that this ratio is optimal for health and immune function. But largely thanks to vegetable oils, the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is now closer to 20:1 — far in favor of omega-6s, mostly linoleic acid, found in vegetable and seed oils. Over consumption of Omega 6’s can lead to inflammation and potentially down regulate metabolism through thyroid function, meaning if you have autoimmune issues, you should be avoiding this at all costs!

*Side note* Omega 3’s have been proven to lower inflammation.

Also, When exposed to high temperatures (cooking), vegetable oils are highly ‘unstable’. The chemical structure change of this ‘instability’ has proven links/studies to increased chances of heart disease.

Unfortunately, theses oils are found everywhere and manufacturers have thought up some creative names to make them sound appealing or ‘hide them’ from us.

Here are some of the most common oils to try and avoid;

Canola Oil

Corn Oil

Soybean Oil

“Vegetable” oil

Peanut Oil

Sunflower Oil

Safflower Oil

Cottonseed Oil

Grapeseed Oil

Rapeseed Oil

Margarine

Any fake butter substitutes

If you eat out, chances are your food is cooked in (doused with) some type of vegetable oil. If you buy packaged goods like biscuits, chips or cookies, take a look for it on the label; there’s a very good chance that vegetable oils have snuck their way in. If you buy spreads, dips, dressings, margarine, or mayo, chances are, again, Vegetable oils. Those ‘Healthy’ Nut milks you are having in your coffee? a lot of them… Vegetable Oils.

What oils do we want to use for cooking & eating instead?

Coconut oil

MCT oil

Avocado oil

Olive oil

Butter

Ghee

Check out food labels whenever you’re unsure. You’ll likely be surprised how many foods contain vegetable oils! Do your best guys. This is another little step that could move the needle to giving you a better overall quality of life.

Remember, we’re not striving for perfect, we’re aiming for better.

Get in contact with us if you’d like some help with anything nutrition related!

  • Ben.

Should You Be Prioritising 'Quality' Foods?

Should you be buying organic/grass fed/wild caught/quality foods? As with most decisions, it depends.

In my opinion, the benefits far outweigh the negatives, however, there are certainly plenty of considerations to take into account and the best way to start is to get educated and be a ’smart consumer’ so you don’t get sucked into spending your hard earned $$$ on poor quality products with attractive marketing.

Below are some potential benefits and downsides to consider before/whilst prioritising quality foods;

Benefits to prioritising quality-

  • Potentially better nutrient profiles and/or more nutrient dense.

  • This is the big one- Less/no pesticides, toxins, genetic mods, antibiotics, growth hormones, grains. All of which are likely to have a negative affect on your health, especially over years of consumption. “YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT, EATS”

  • Sustainability and caring for ‘ the Earth’

  • Overall taste and enjoyment.

  • The mental aspect of knowing you’re taking care of your body.

  • More humane conditions for the animals. Not only can you take a little more comfort in knowing that animal cruelty is reduced, but the animals being brought up in a lower stress environment may lead to better quality meats/produce, again, potentially improving your overall health and well being.

Potential Downsides:

  • More expensive

  • Shopping for seasonal produce makes some foods harder to get.

  • Harder to source and acquire quality foods. i.e. less ‘convenient’

  • Some foods spoil faster

  • More time prepping and cooking foods. i.e. minimal pre packaged ‘ready to eat’ foods.

  • You may not get what you paid for. Unfortunately, big companies have big budgets and may market sub par foods/produce as ‘organic’ or ‘healthy’ when they are in fact, RUBBISH.

  • There are organic pop-tarts. Organic doesn’t equal healthy.

My suggestion would be to eat the best quality that your budget allows. Trying to prioritise quality meat products. i.e. Grass fed, Wild caught, organic, free range.

In terms of fruit and veg, if more budget conscious, check out the ‘Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen’ list

(www.ewg.org/foodnews/)

Condiser prioritising quality on the ‘Dirty Dozen’ foods. As a general rule of thumb, if the food has a thick skin (bananas, avocado) then you should be fairly safe.

Dont stress too much though if budget is tight!! Sticking to whole, unprocessed, single ingredient, nutritious foods is the key. Even frozen packaged veggies are better than no veggies!

Below are a few tips that will hopefully help you navigate your next shop and hopefully make some sustainable, beneficial habit changes that will improve your lifestyle, health and well being, over time.

Buying tips:

  • Stick to whole, unprocessed, single ingredient foods, wherever possible. Consider prioritising quality meats, dairy and produce

Pass on the ‘organic muesli bars’.

  • As above, check out the “organic dirty dozen” for a list of produce you should consider buying organic.

  • Get educated. Learn to understand labels and be a smart consumer.

Big companies (think our big supermarket chains) have budgets large enough to create their own ‘ certifications’ unfortunately, its not governed closely enough and ‘certified organic’ can not mean a whole lot except for a big price tag. Do your homework. Learn about a brand’s farming practices and learn about label regulations.

  • Consider shipping at your local farmers markets. Ask educated questions and learn how the animals are fed, treated etc. Same for your fresh produce, how is it grown, is it stored, is it sprayed? As above, Do your homework.

  • Buy local and in season. Small, local farms may or may not be organic (as it costs a lot to be ‘certified’), however, many are or are less likely to treat their animals and crops poorly and are passionate about growing and supplying quality, amazing food.

  • Buy in season for lower cost as well as ensuring the food hasn’t been stored and preserved; sacrificing quality, nutrients and potentially sprayed with harmful chemicals to prolong shelf life.

Consider getting educated and consuming quality food as a long term investment into your health and longevity. “You wouldn’t put cheap fuel in your Ferrari”.

Recovery

Probably (definitely) the most important, yet overlooked aspect of your training. Funnily (not really funny) enough, the harder/longer we train, the more we should be prioritising it, but the less we do.. Recover.

We may get away with this cycle for a period of time, however, eventually it will catch up with us. Whether that be via burnout, or worse, injury; Either option will lead to forced time out of the gym/not training.

Before this becomes a reality, we must prioritise our rest and recovery.

Some of the most beneficial ways to go about this include;

SLEEP

The biggest part of your recovery is sleep. This give our body a chance to adapt and grow to our straining stimulus. While you sleep muscles, nervous system, and much more heal and become stronger than before.

Ensure you’re getting adequate QUALITY sleep. aim for between 7–9 hours of sleep per night. This means more time in bed. If you only prioritise one thing in this list, it should be the length and quality of your sleep.

NUTRITION

Nutrition and hydration both play a vital role in recovery.

Make sure you eat plenty of quality (think organic, grass fed, free range, spray free), unprocessed, nutritious foods. Choose foods that come from, have walked on, swam on or flown over the Earth. Eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables to ensure you get sufficient micronutrients to optimise body functions.

Ensure you’re drinking enough water. 2–3L per day at least. Consider even more if you’re training hard!

If you’re not supplying your body with the food it needs in order to perform well but also to fully recover, you’re missing a critical piece of the puzzle for optimal performance. ⠀⠀⠀

STRESS MANAGEMENT

Being able to shift from sympathetic state (fight or flight) into parasympathetic state (rest and digest) more often & relieving stressors in your life, plays a major role in recovery. Consider including activities such as reading, meditating, walking, spending time outdoors as well as spending time with family and friends to help reduce stress levels in your every day life.

ACTIVE RECOVERY

This means moving, daily. Low intensitylow impact activities such as walking or cycling outdoors, while enjoying the sun are great ways to get in ‘active recovery’. We are looking to promote blood flow, which leads to joint lubrication, increase oxygen to muscles as well as flushing toxins from working muscles with the intention of stimulating recovery.

Ice baths, compression boots, foam rolling, massages etc, are all great ways to help improve your recovery and keep you healthy and progressing in your training. Loosening off muscles, generating blood flow, working out adhesions in the muscles that cause restriction. Want to feel better? Recover properly!

TRAINING PROGRAM DESIGN
If you’re not following a smart program, then you can’t expect to recover well. Because recovery STARTS within your training (volume, sequencing, intensities, etc.).

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Stress (training) + Recovery = Adaptation (improved fitness, strength, muscle, fat loss)

  • Stay Tuned for CFK Recovery, Coming Soon!!

    -Ben.

Grocery Shopping 101

Let’s look at some simple ways we can ‘eat healthy’ without it costing us our whole weeks pay.

  • Have a plan. Have a shopping list ready to go before you shop and stick to it. Don’t buy any extras just because they’re appealing. Companies spent big $$$ on making their products appealing af. Don’t be sucked in.

  • Try and do most of your own cooking and prep. Foods pre prepped and/or cooked are generally far more expensive.

  • Buy produce on sale.

  • Buy in bulk or larger quantities. Freeze extras that you’re not going to use for the week.

  • Priorities quality foods. Especially organic/grass fed/free range/wild caught animal produce. As well as organic and/or spray free fruits and vegetables.

  • If budget is a little tight but you still want to eat as quality as you can, consider checking out ‘The Dirty Dozen & Clean fifteen list’ . It is a list published by the Environmental Working Group each year.

  • ⁣The Dirty Dozen is a list of produce items most likely to contain high levels of pesticides. If possible, these might be foods to prioritise purchasing organic.

  • ⁣The Clean Fifteen are crops that likely contain the least amount of pesticides, so we could purchase regular options.

  • An easy rule of thumb? If it has a thick skin/shell of some sort on the outside, you can consider buying regular.

  • That being said Fruits and vegetables are always better than no vegetables, so if regular options are all the budget allows for then go for that!

  • Ideally we want to avoid frozen veg, however, If going frozen, I’d suggest skipping the bags that are pre-seasoned/sauced etc. ⁣

  • ⁣Its not ideal to heat plastic and eat vegetables out of it, however, Its better than nothing and if the choice is between microwave veggies and no veggies, microwave veggies still win out.⁣

Below are some options that generally shouldn’t break the bank!

Veggies (carbs):⁣⁣

Broccoli⁣⁣⁣⁣

Onions⁣⁣

Carrots⁣⁣

squash (butternut, spaghetti, acorn)⁣⁣

Cucumber⁣⁣

Capsicum ⁣⁣

Fresh Green Beans ⁣⁣

Red or Green Cabbage⁣⁣

Loose Spinach, Kale⁣⁣

Garlic⁣⁣⁣

Fruits:⁣⁣

Fruit in season or on sale⁣⁣

Oranges⁣⁣

Lemons and Limes⁣⁣

Apples⁣⁣

Banana ⁣⁣⁣⁣

Frozen berries⁣

Meats/protein:⁣⁣

Mince- turkey, chicken, beef⁣⁣

Chicken breast

Chicken thighs⁣⁣⁣⁣

Eggs⁣⁣

Greek Yogurt⁣

Carbs:⁣⁣

Rice⁣⁣

Lentils/Beans⁣⁣

Whole wheat or plant-based pastas⁣

Oats⁣⁣

⁣Potato, white or sweet

Fats:⁣⁣

Peanut Butter⁣⁣

Nuts/seeds in bulk instead of already in a package⁣⁣

Coconut Oil⁣⁣

2019 clean fifteen & dirty dozen list

https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/

-Ben.


Are All Calories Equal?

This question pops up super regularly and you see proponents of either side arguing their opinion on social media. Unfortunately, regularly, the argument is often for attention/publicity more so than a real desire to educate.

The question is a ‘loaded’ one and needs more context.

Phil Learney summarises this perfectly-

‘Calories are only ‘Equal’ if we talk about them in an energetic sense.

Calories can be Nutrient dense, empty or all that goes in between.

  • ** Nutrient dense foods will make you feel better, perfrom better and maintain a consistent and healthy intake better. Likely leading to an improved quality of life’

If simply discussing energy, a calorie is merely a unit of energy and yes Calories in vs calories out will lead to an energy deficit (weight loss, in theory).

If we’re talking; Health, performance, longevity, quality of life & real world long term sustainable adherance, then no, calories arent created equal.

Whole, unprocessed, nutrient dense foods win out almost everytime in pursuit of your health & fitness goals.


-Ben.