*Disclaimer: Nutrition WOD is not affiliated with CrossFit, Inc.
Welcome to Part 2 of our 3 part series on how to create your own personalized nutrition plan.
If you have not had a chance to read Part 1, we highly recommend taking a few minutes and reading it first. The goal of this series is to explain our 3-tier nutrition plan, where you should personally start along the path, and why it is so important to take your time if you want long term success and not just a 30-day spike in weight loss. This program is essentially our line in the sand. Diets don't work. Building your own sustainable nutrition lifestyle does. The sooner you start down this path, the better your life will be.
In Part 1, we talked about our first Tier which we call Focus. The people who typically belong in this group are nutrition newbies. They might have just recently expressed an interest in eating better but they most likely do not have any education on how to do it properly. They may also rely on diet foods and low-fat options, or count calories with fitness apps, as a means of controlling their weight. People in the Focus tier are simply at the beginning.
Tier 2: Personalization
No longer a nutrition newbie, people in Personalization are now looking for ways to build upon what they have learned. Let's give a few example of people who may fit into this group.
- They have demonstrated a desire to get serious about their own nutrition
- They eat real food more often than not and they rely on a variety of meat, fruit, and vegetables to make their plan work.
- When they do use a food with a label, they quickly scan it and decide if it fits their plan.
- They avoid fast food and processed food whenever possible.
- They portion each meal so they get the correct amount of non-starchy carbohydrates, fat, protein, and starches/fruits.
- They make good choices at restaurants and ask questions about ingredients when necessary.
- They have started to look at supplements to help with areas of deficiency
- They no longer rely on any one tool like the scale or counting calories to define success.
There are other characteristics that may identify people in this group, and like the Focus tier, not everyone will neatly fit in one group or another. This group is where we typically see a lot of people get stuck. The phrase "Paralysis by analysis" applies here. Armed with a lot of new information, it can be tough for anybody to hone in on what they should do next.
What Should the Personalization Tier Learn Next?
While it might be tempting to jump right in and start messing with a lot of variables all at once, the goal here is to build upon previous knowledge in an organized and systematic way. In our experience, this is the only proven way to make lifelong changes. Here are some of the goals for this group:
- Eliminating all processed foods from their life.
- Added sugar is always below 10% of their daily calories.
- Experimenting with meal timing to find the right balance for their life
- Understanding basic supplements and how they impact their health
- Being able to describe how a food affects them and then looking for other options
- Exploring food sensitivities through elimination plans to start identifying foods that negatively affect them.
- Understanding calories and macros as tools and not as the only rules.
- Learning to make small changes and giving enough time to determine results.
Like the Focus tier, people in the Personalization group may move quickly through these accomplishments or stay here for life. It should be stressed that people who live the rest of their lives using these tools are much healthier than the majority of the U.S. population based on nutrition alone. We typically recognize people are ready to move on to Tier III: Performance Optimization when they have reached a plateau in their training or nutrition. While there may still be some weight loss desire, most of the people moving on have already reached a safe body fat percentage and are no longer at risk for diseases like diabetes and CHF. In fact, most would identify Tier II graduates as being "healthy" and "in shape". However, this is not the end of the nutritional road. Those that truly want to be fit, must optimize their performance and that is the focus of our third and final part of this series (found here).