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A healthy lifestyle that extends beyond the workout.

Nutrition can often be a very personal and confusing topic.

Nutrition can be personal because everyone’s needs, goals, and tolerances are different. Nutrition can also be confusing because for every article you will read supporting one approach, you will find another refuting the same position and taking the opposite point of view. Despite all the noise, there are a few widely agreed upon principles when it comes to the quality and quantity of your intake. It’s on these foundational principles which we built the CrossFit 817 Philosophy in regard to nutrition.

The 817 Philosophy



I. The most critical element of your diet is the quality of food. High-quality foods are real foods: they have little to no human processing (see: Processed Foods) such that they are consumed in a form similar to how they exist in nature. This means real foods are perishable. They lay the foundation of healthy, capable, and fit humans primarily because of the nutrient density therein. Real foods contain the types and amounts of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate, and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) necessary for health and fitness. Additionally, they contain no refined sugar and are free from man-made substances that are not associated with health (artificial oils, chemicals, etc.). 

II. Real foods include meat, fish, eggs, dairy, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and traditionally prepared grains. These are conventionally found on the perimeter of the grocery store, although some exceptions exist. Farmer’s markets provide an exceptional resource for sourcing real foods. The more natural the environment the food is produced in or from, the more ideal in terms of health (i.e., free-range, grass-fed, wild-caught, and/or organic labels are best). However, if these are not available or are cost prohibitive, individuals should still select real foods without these distinctions. 

1. Lindeberg, S. (2010). Food and Western Disease. (BOOK).


I. It’s also important to have some limit on the overall quantity in your diet and balance intake across the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate, and fat) to support your goals (e.g., fitness, health) and activity level. Intake between individuals can vary considerably once one accounts for sex, age, genetics, goals, and activity level. As an example, two people of the same height may have disparate intake levels if one is a younger male trying to gain muscle mass and the other is an older female trying to lose weight. Once the overall intake is established, a rough balance of the macronutrients (40% carbohydrate, 30% protein, 30% fat based on calories) is recommended for most of our population (i.e., the non-professional-one-workout-a-day-crowd). 

II. Our coaches or nutrition partners can help estimate the total amount of food and specific macronutrient distribution one needs relative to their context. Even without an individualized plan, one can eat balanced meals (generally 3-5 meals per day, 3 for smaller females and 5 for larger males). At each meal, it is important to have protein (meat, fish, eggs, dairy), carbohydrate (fruits, vegetables, legumes, traditionally prepared grains), and fat (nuts, seeds) represented. Generally, protein portions can be the size of your palm, starchy carbohydrate sources can be the size of your fist (plus as many vegetables as you can fit on the plate), and fat the size of your thumb (be aware certain meats, eggs, dairy, or the cooking oil for preparation may already provide enough fat for those trying to lose weight). Some individuals may need more personalized macronutrient distributions, but this is a good starting point for most. 

1. Cordain, L. (2002). The Nutritional Characteristics of a Contemporary Diet Based Upon Paleolithic Food Groups.

2. Synkowski, E. (2018). Nutrition for the 99 Percent.



I. Refined sugar is an element of the modern diet, that with broad consensus, is detrimental in excess. Refined sugar results from processing foods (see: Processed Foods) to extract pure sugar and then it is added to a food to make it taste sweeter (hence, refined sugar is also called “added sugar”). Routine over-consumption of refined sugar is linked to chronic diseases such as obesity, metabolic disease, and diabetes; combined, chronic diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide. It is relatively easy to consume excess refined sugar due to its addictive nature: your body reacts the same to sugar as it would to other stimulants including certain narcotics. This may cause codependency, reliance, and habit. If you are serious about your long-term health, practically eliminating refined sugar from your diet is a priority. 

II. There are more than 60 different names for sugar on food labels such that the ingredient list may not actually list “sugar” despite containing a refined sweetener. This makes it difficult to avoid. The American Heart Association recommendations no more than 38 grams (9 teaspoons) of added sugar for men and 25 grams (6 teaspoons) of added sugar for women. As an example, servings of processed yogurts, cereals, and juices can routinely exceed this daily target. The easiest way to avoid refined sugar is to eat real foods (see: Real Foods). 

1. Steele et al. (2016). Ultra-processed foods and added sugars in the US diet: evidence from a nationally representative cross-sectional study.

2. Moss, M. (2013). Salt sugar fat. (BOOK)

*3. Guyenet, S. (2015). How Much Does Sugar Contribute to Obesity?


I. Processed foods can be defined as those altered by human intervention such that their inherent nutritious value is significantly reduced. For example, while some nutrient loss may occur via boiling broccoli, we do not consider that a “processed” food. Instead, processing consists of the practices that occur outside of a residential kitchen where nutrients are stripped, anti-nutrients (chemicals, preservatives, sugars) are added, and industrial methods are used (e.g., solvent extraction). There is consensus that real foods are associated with health and processed foods are not. This is likely in part due to the stripping of the natural anti-inflammatory components of real foods that make processed foods associated with systemic inflammation and chronic diseases (To note, refined sugar is a processed food, see: Refined Sugar). 

II. By eating real foods (see: Real Foods), processed foods are subsequently minimized in the diet. This means avoiding packaged items with long shelf-lives and items you could not make in your own kitchen. 

1. O’Keefe, J.H. & Cordain, L. (2004). Cardiovascular Disease Resulting From a Diet and Lifestyle at Odds With Our Paleolithic Genome: How to Become a 21st-Centry Hunter-Gatherer.

2. Cordain, L., et al. (2005). Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21stcentury.

3. Guyenet, S. (2015). What Properties Make a Food “Addictive”?



I. Ideally, the real foods in one’s diet should be selected from a variety of protein, carbohydrate, and fat sources. The body needs approximately 40 essential (i.e., must be obtained from the diet) nutrients to function, flourish, and recover properly. The essential nutrients are comprised of amino acids (from proteins), fats, and vitamins and minerals. A variety of real foods ensures the essential nutrients are optimally represented in your diet. Perhaps as equally important, adding variety to your diet will keep eating fun and exciting and therefore more sustainable in the long-term.

II. Through variety, you can explore new foods, new recipes, and learn about your taste, palate, and appetite. Perhaps you will discover new favorites, explore foods from different cultures, or even venture into farmer’s markets or meet local food producers. Trying to eat (relatively) seasonally can be a great way to add variety to the diet. All of these types of adventures can be healthy for both body and mind. 

1. Cordain, L. (2002). The Nutritional Characteristics of a Contemporary Diet Based Upon Paleolithic Food Groups.

2. Synkowski, EC. (2018). The Last Superfood List.



I. We believe that food can serve as an extremely positive and important role in your life through mindful, intentional, and enjoyable eating. In total, this category is your relationship with food. The statement that “food is fuel” is only half true: food is also deeply entwined with our social, psychological, and emotional needs. Food can play a pivotal role in cultural or local tradition, may serve as a nostalgic reminder, or may invoke feeling, whether positive or negative. As such, your relationship with food is very personal. 

II. Ideally, we strive to eat mindfully and intentionally – thinking about our food and intake from a healthy and grounded perspective to serve our health and fitness, all while taking part in social norms. This means learning to find a balance between eating for long-term health and fitness while also being able to enjoy a special occasion without restriction. Balance and perspective are integral in shaping a healthy relationship with food. However, one’s relationship to food is a common struggle. It is even possible to be eating “well” from a quality and quantity perspective yet still have a negative relationship with food. If you are struggling to attain a healthy relationship with food, please reach out to one of our coaches. 

1. The Center for Mindful Eating. “The Principles of Mindful Eating.”

2. The Center for Mindful Eating. “Healthy Eating Position Statement of The Center for Mindful Eating.”

3. The Center for Mindful Eating. “Position on Mindful Eating & Weight Concerns.”

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