Eating for performance vs Body composition

By Ben Coulter aka @b_coulter

Many start out on a training (especially CrossFit) journey aiming to lose weight, however, as we progress, our goals can become a little more ambitious as not only do we want to look amazing, but we want to perform just as well! That is great and something that we should definitely be striving for. Performance goals are awesome, objective, measurable improvements in our capabilities and can be a lot more exciting than the number on our bathroom scales.

What is important to understand is sometimes our body composition and our performance goals can be pulling from opposite ends and leaving us stuck and frustrated, not really achieving the results we hoped for in either aspects.

Lets look at some reasons why this may be…

Our bodies need sufficient fuel to perform at maximum capacity. Eating in a calorie deficit (necessary for weight loss) while trying to perform optimally, is likely to be somewhat detrimental to performance. Most people decide (sometimes, rightfully so) that when time to lose weight or ‘diet’ to cut a large portion of carbohydrates out of their diet. Assuming this means they’re now eating in a calorie deficit they will be losing weight/fat. The problem may occur when we are also looking to achieve performance based as well as aesthetic goals.

CrossFit, specifically, is a high intensity sport that demands glucose as the primary energy source for the body to utilise to fuel your workouts. Carbohydrates are by far and away the easiest/most readily accessible source of energy for the body to convert to glucose to fuel performance. Therefore, when carbohydrates are restricted, our body needs to look elsewhere for energy reserves (fuel). Ideally, we now look to fat stores, however, this is a far less readily available source of fuel for your body to utilise, meaning it has to work harder to produce that energy that you’re relying on (and wanting quickly and readily available) to keep you pushing through your workout.

Hopefully this gives you a simple overview of why a calorie deficit (in the form of reduced carbohydrate) may work well to help you achieve your body composition goals, but could quite possibly have a negative affect on your training performance.

Aside from a lack of performance when eating in a calorie deficit (under eating, with the goal of losing body fat), we need to be mindful of other potential effects that high intensity/demanding exercise has on our body whilst being in that deficit. We now have less access to all 3 of the macronutrients simply because we are eating less food in total. Reduced Carbohydrate can affect performance as mentioned above. insufficient Protein intake can affect recovery which can lead to increased muscle soreness & discomfort, higher risk of injury, tiredness, poor sleep (we should ALWAYS priorities sleep) & poor concentration… You can see how this can start to snowball. Reduced fat intake may also affect hormone function which could lead to hormone imbalances, compromised immune function, amenorrhea (loss of period) in females & a host of other issues.

Along with a reduction in macronutrients, without mindful and consious eating habbits there could also be less micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals) available for our bodies to function optimally.

Does mean that you shouldn’t try to lose weight/improve body composition whilst doing Crossfit/ high intensity training? NO!

For many of us, its likely that improving body composition will improve performance. If you’re ‘overweight’, not only should reducing body fat be a priority from a health perspective, it is going to make you feel and perform better, an all around better quality of life…. think about how much easier those pull ups or that run will be without 10kg of deadweight (body fat), not to mention carrying those groceries from your car to the kitchen!

What it does mean, is that if you decide to make the commitment to losing body fat and would like to maintain or improve your performance, what and how you eat becomes critically important.

Some considerations for maximising performance in a calorie deficit to get you started;

Focusing on food quality should be a priority in everyones life, however, i understand that this isn’t the case (working on changing that, one person at a time) for everybody..Ensuring you’re eating sufficient amounts of protein throughout the day. at least 1.8–2.2kg of your bodyweight/dayEnsuring you’re eating enough quality fats from plant and animal sources (no vegetable oils!). Around 30%-40% total calorie intake ensuring your carbohydrate intake is surrounding your high intensity training efforts.

Think of your carbohydrates as fuel.

Ensuring you stay well hydrated.

Prioritise sleep and recovery.

Minimise external stressors as best as possible.

Accept that you’re in a calorie deficit and likely unable to perform at 100% every day.

Consider bringing calories up to maintenance or above leading into a period of time where performance is a priority for you.

Consider working with a nutrition coach to help you achieve your goals!

CFK Character Building - 2 Weeks Testing Phase.

On Monday we commence a 2 week ‘character building’ phase where we test a handful of key components of our training program. A few areas we will be testing are strength, muscular endurance, dynamic efforts, time domains, gymnastics sets and some team based efforts to break up the week and see how well we can mix it in a team environment where we should truly thrive.

A weekly template (as always) will be emailed out to in gym and online members so you can plan out your weeks. The volume of work will be significantly less than in previous weeks and we are hoping you are all primed to perform. Pick the tests that are most applicable to you and your training, don’t avoid the ones that you dislike, embrace them and put in even more effort than usual.

View our members page for some nutritional guidance to help you get through the week and ensure you plan out your sleep to ensure you are getting enough.

Want to become a part of it all? CLICK HERE


Week 1:


Squat Strength + Mixed Modal


Max TNG Reps + Max Cals


Gymnastics Sets + Endurance Test


Press + Snatch + Accessories


Active Recovery + Upper Body Strength


Mixed Repeatability Test


Girl WOD Test - Karen & Helen

Week 2:


Deadlift Strength + Short Sprints


Double Unders + Mixed Team Ski Test


Gymnastics Sets + Nate


Clean & Jerk + Accessories


5RM Bench Press + Row


Team Variance Test


Active Recovery

Volume Vs Intensity 

According to CrossFit’s definition, Intensity is exactly equal to average power (force x distance/time), or in other words, how much work you can get done in a specific time period, relative to your maximum effort. 

Volume, on the other hand is simply the total amount of work that you do. 

It is important to realise that favourable adaptations (increased fitness, muscle mass etc) come from ‘progressive overload’ or more simply, pushing our bodies to work harder than they did before, in a sustainable and measurable fashion. In our opinion, Intensity is one of the most effective way to achieve this for a variety of reasons. 

It is super common and at times, understandable that so many athletes look to the ‘more is better’ philosophy as a way of trying to improve, reach their goals quicker or close the gap between their competitors (class mates), however, is it really the optimal way to go about things? In most cases, no. 

Sure, there is time for increased volume, especially for competitive athletes looking to prepare for upcoming competitions, but it is critical to make the distinction between CrossFit as a competitive sport and CrossFit for health, longevity and fitness. They are two vastly different goals and we would argue that one is not sustainable over the long term for most athletes, while the latter is one, if not, THE most effective way to improve health & fitness, vastly improve the quality of your life and (hopefully) its duration. 

At some point everyones intensity will start to deteriorate as their volume increase. It is likely that it will be far more beneficial to do a 60 min workout at 90% than a 90 min workout at 60%. 

Along with intensity deteriorating we start to see a break down in mechanics. Adding volume to less than ideal movement patterns only further ‘engrains’ these movement patterns, making it harder to ‘unlearn’ them as well as increases the risk of injury. 

Along with an increase of volume, comes an increased need for recovery, meaning more mobility, more sleep, better nutrition and a deeper understanding of your body and its requirements outside of the gym. This obviously means not only more time spent in the gym but more time required outside of the gym to ensure you’re getting the adequate recovery to ensure you can sustain the level of INTENSITY required to progress inside the gym. Too much volume, intensity and inadequate recovery will lead to overtraining, which will actually send you backwards. 

Are there benefits to strategically adding volume, over time? absolutely, however, it certainly isn’t a substitute for Intensity and variance, which will both be provided within a good CrossFit gyms programming. 

A good rule of thumb would be when considering adding more volume would be, first and foremost, are you having to scale any workouts that are programmed within your gym; weight, movement or otherwise? If so, more volume isn’t necessary. Finally ask yourself, are you really hitting your workouts with your maximum effort? if you’re unsure, the answer is no. 

Chris Hinshaw, who works with some of CrossFits best, including Games athletes such as  Katrin Davidsdottir, Rich Froning and Mathew Fraser summarises this topic best; "there is little point to adding on more running volume if you start to slow down ... . Then you are just spending more time practicing running slow.” 

If you want to see progress over time, Intensity is key. 


CrossFit Kirrawee February Challenge

Looking to lose that excess Christmas layer?

Want to improve on your cardio gains?

Want to learn how to eat better so that you can keep weight off long term?

CFK has the challenge for you!

The month of February will see us launch new CK45 and CK30 classes in conjunction with our 28-day challenge to help with your health and fitness goals.  


Feb Goals:

Fat Loss

Building Healthy habits 


$100 per member (includes Group nutrition guidance and exclusive CK45/CK30 classes)

$150 per member (includes Individualised nutrition plan and exclusive CK45/CK30 classes)


In-Body scans are also available for an additional price of $70 for 2 scans at start and finish of the Challenge. 


What is included?

In-Body scan at the beginning and finish of the Challenge. 

6 additional high intensity classes available exclusively to February Challenge members only (CK 45 and CK 30)

Weekly Challenges 

Facebook Members Group 

Weekly Check Ins from Ryan and Kellie 



Individualised or Group nutrition guidance.  

Individual: Specific macros, food lists and weekly assessments.

Group: Focused on developing positive habits with food, guidance on how to count macros and tips for pre/post training nutrition. 

All groups will be provided with recipe ideas. 



There will be two winners. The first winner will be determined from In-Body scan numbers, and the second winner will be determined from before and after photos. 


Prize Pack for each winner:

1 x Pair RooGrips

1 x PT Session with Ryan or Kellie 

1 x True Protein Pack  

1 x CFK Shirt 


CK 30 | CK 45 | CrossFit and more.

We are excited to announce we will be diversifying our program in Feb 2019 with the introduction of CK 30 & CK 45. In Feb we will commence a 28 day Challenge with participants having access to our new offerings.

On top of this we will have an exclusive CK FIT membership that includes CK30, CK45 and Open Gym at CrossFit Kirrawee. This program will not include our CrossFit classes.

Gymnastics Coaching Course

CK | 30 - is a 30 minute class available 4 days per week running Mon-Thurs

(timetable to be announced)

Each week you’ll get access to:

Two - High Intensity Strength Training sessions

Two - Fat-loss Conditioning sessions

Gymnastics Coaching Course

CK | 45 - is a 45 minute class available mon/tues/thurs/fri (timetable to be announced)

All classes are high intensity with an emphasis on fat-loss and engine building. We currently run two of the classes per week at lunchtime and they have been a huge success. So the addition of two more classes only makes sense.

Its important to note that these classes will NOT involve Olympic Weightlifting or Complex Gymnastics. They will be suitable for ANY fitness level, as long as you are willing to work hard and put in effort.

Name *
I am interested in: *

Aus Hero WOD - 'TURNS'

SGT Ian ‘Turns’ Turner

03 Nov 81 – 15 Jul 17

This Saturday 19/01/19 members and guests will be joining us to test out ‘Turns’, a workout dedicated to the life and memory of Ian ‘Turns’ Turner, husband of our beloved member Jo. Please feel free to come and join us on the day, your attendance and energy in the room will be much appreciated.


5 RFT:

15 Push Press 50/35

21 Front Squat

400m Run

Ian ‘Turns’ Turner

Ian ‘Turns’ Turner

It is difficult to capture Ian in words.  In many ways a contradiction; his unapologetic and uncensored drive, determination and swearing was as intense as his kindness, intelligence and loyalty.  Ian was a highly respected operator with the 2ndCommando Regiment and devoted to every aspect of life as a soldier. 

Even as a kid Ian had been obsessed with becoming a Special Forces soldier.  He enlisted in the Australian Army in 2000 and his first posting was to 2ndBattalion Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) in Townsville as a Rifleman.  In 2003 he decided to pursue his ambition and completed his Commando selection and Reinforcement cycle, and was then posted to 4thBattalion RAR (Commando), now known as 2ndCommando Regiment.  

In 2004 Ian took a break from the Army and moved back to Tasmania to marry his high school sweetheart, Jo, and start a family.  Ian became an adoring dad to his son Xander and daughter Ella.  During this time he posted to the Army Reserves at 12/40 Royal Tasmanian Regiment, but disheartened by work opportunities as a civilian he found work in Iraq as a private security contractor. 

Ian missed Defence life, so in 2006 he moved backed to Sydney with Jo and the kids and went back to fulltime ADF service in the 2ndCommando Regiment.  

Whilst juggling a demanding career and being devoted to his family, Ian completed a Bachelor of Arts in Security, Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism and a Masters in Strategy and Security.  His capacity to apply himself and achieve a high standard in anything he set his mind to was inspiring to say the least.  The opposing side to his driven personality was, in his own words, an “untamed beast” that would lead him into destruction and depression. This was his greatest battle, and one that saw him end his own life in 2017.   

The movements in Ian’s WOD were chosen by his children, one of their favourite memories with their Dad was going to his work gym and trying to follow him through his gruelling workouts.  The 15+21 reps each round equal 36 for the 36 glorious years he lived.  

Ian deployed on the following Operations:

Operation Tananger (East Timor) 2001-2002

Operation Slipper (Afghanistan) 2007-2008

Operation Slipper (Afghanistan) 2009

Domestic Counter Terrorism (TAG-E) 2010

Operation Slipper (Afghanistan) 2011-2012

Operation Slipper (Afghanistan) 2013

Domestic Counter Terrorism (TAG-E) 2014

Operation OKRA (Iraq) 2015

Operation OKRA (Iraq) 2016  

Ian was awarded the following honours and awards:

Australian Defence Force Bronze Commendation

Special Operations Commander Australia Commendation Bronze Commendation

Australian Defence Force Long Service Medal

Operational Service Medal with clasp: Iraq

NATO medal with clasp: ISAF

Afghanistan Campaign Medal

Australian Active Service Medal with clasps: East Timor & ICAT

Australian Service Medal with clasp: CT/SR

United Nations Medal: East Timor

Australian Defence Medal

Meritorious Unit Citation

Infantry Combat Badge

Returned From Active Service Badge

12/40 RTR Champion Soldier (2006)

12/40 RTR Champion Soldier (2005)

2RAR Champion Soldier (2001)

Best at Military Operations Award (Junior Leadership Course - 2008)

Trainee of Merit (SOCOMD Supervisor Infantry Operations Section Course - 2008)

Leadership Award (Subject One for Sergeant - 2012)

CrossFit Nutrition in 2019.

“People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and New year, when what matters is what they eat between New Year and Christmas”

A great quote and so fitting for this time of year. 

Nutrition is the foundation of health & fitness and no amount of time ‘crushing it’ in the gym will outwork a poor approach to it.

While there are many different approaches and considerations that need to be made when planning how best to achieve an individuals specific health and fitness goals, below are some basic nutrition tips/guidelines that can be implemented today to get you well on the way to achieving your 2019 goals. 

  1. Create a lifestyle. ‘Diets’ represent a moment in time, are restrictive, not sustainable over the long term and any results are generally unravelled quickly after the endpoint. Find a long term, sustainable way to eat that suits you, your circumstances & supports your goals. Don’t get caught up in the next fad or quick fix. Optimal, is the approach that you’re able to enjoy and adopt for the long term. Consistency is key.  

  2. Hydrate. Simple. A good rule of thumb here is to drink more water than you think you have to. For the majority of people it is unlikely that they are unconsciously going to hydrate effectively. Not water in your morning coffee, or your juice with lunch. Water. Drink water. 2L a day, minimum is a good place to start. 

  3. Prepare your meals in advance. This is so simple yet so hard for so many.  Spend some time preparing your meals for the week. That way when you’re tired and/or ‘too busy’ theres no excuse to grab takeaway or junk food. If you really don’t have time, there are plenty of meal prep companies that will prepare specific meals to suit exactly what you like to eat in the exact quantities to support your goals. Fail to plan = Plan to fail 

  4. Want to lose weight? Calorie Deficit. Consume less calories than you use. Keto, IIFYM, Intermittent fasting, Paleo… every fad diet, they all have one thing in common when utilised for the purpose of weight loss... They all work on the premise of calories in vs calories out… or, a calorie deficit. 

  5. Want to eat for performance? Want to gain muscle? Educate yourself on what is required to achieve your goal, understand your required macronutrient split & calories. Fuel your workouts. Eat with intent. This point deserves its own post, which we’ll cover off on in the near future, however, for now, be conscious of the importance of nutrition in achieving your goals. 

  6. Consider counting calories/macros. While not essential, it is a great way of understanding the foods you are consuming, how calorie dense they are and what affect they may be having on your body composition. Tracking/measuring the quantity of food you’re consuming over time, along with how you look/feel/weigh (measurements) will help give you clarity on the quantity as well as the types of food (Proteins, Carbs & Fats) you require for your specific goals. There are plenty of great apps (my fitness pal, for e.g.) that make this super easy. 

  7. Carbs are not the enemy. Please don’t be scared of carbs. Especially if training with intensity, frequently. Carbs are a great (the best) source of fuel to get you through your workouts. Aim to use carbs around your workouts to best utilise their benefits of energy and recovery. Not to mention, the carbs from fruits and veg come with the added benefit of incredible vitamins & minerals that are essential for growth, repair, immune system benefits and overall optimal health. 

  8. Eat whole foods. Can your food be, grown, gathered or caught? If you have to ask, the answer is likely ’No’. This is where Greg Glassman’s (founder of CrossFit) guideline really rings true. "Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar" This will ensure that along with your calories (and/or macro nutrients), you are getting the sufficient micro nutrients (vitamins & minerals) plus being well satiated. It’s a lot harder to eat too much broccoli than it is to consume too many M&M’s. 

  9. You are what you eat, eats. Eat quality sourced foods. look for ‘wild caught fish’, Free range eggs, Grass fed and finished meats, Organic fruit & vegetable. Unfortunately the food industry is a business and $$ focussed. This means that a lot of the foods we eat are manufactured as ‘efficiently’ (cheaply) as possible. This can mean they have been fed, sprayed and/or coated in chemicals that are extremely toxic to the human body. 

  10. Avoid cooking in vegetable or canola oils. The manufacturing process of these oils involves heavy chemicals which are again, extremely toxic to the human body. Where possible, stick to cooking with Olive oil, Avocado oil & Coconut oil. 

  11. You’re a human being. Enjoy yourself from time to time, live your life, have dinner with friends, eat the icecream. Don’t stress out and hate yourself if you deviate from the plan from time to time. Moderation and balance is the key. In saying that, you need to be honest with yourself about what ‘moderation & balance’ really is and how important are your goals to you. If/when you do deviate from the plan or ‘fall off the rails’, don’t spend time stressing over it, but don't drag it out.. one bad meal doesn’t have to turn into a weekend of binge eating. Enjoy it, accept it, get back on track. 

    Blog - Ben Coulter.