Eating clean is by all means recommended and highly encouraged in CrossFit nutrition. This is because the micro and macronutrients need to be put in a check for your body to benefit in enhanced performance.
That said, it is almost impossible to maintain a lifestyle of high-intensity sporting if you eat clean a 100% of the time. This is because the intensity of CrossFit exercises requires a significant quantity of calorie intake to support it.
Treading the thin line between eating clean and eating enough for CrossFit performance is not easy. Athletes are slowly easing into the clean eating culture to tackle their nutrition needs and thus run into the danger of minimal eating.
If you are aspiring to pack on muscle, lose fat, improve your lifts, and get stronger, you need to seriously think about what goes into your mouth and how much.
Balancing between Eating Enough and Eating Clean
When trying to gain strength and muscle, there is a limit to eating clean. A balance has to be struck between eating what you like and eating clean so that you can stick with this CrossFit nutrition and make it part of your lifestyle without too many sacrifices.
Eating Clean as a Lifestyle
This is not about going for 2 weeks or 2 months on a diet just to lose weight and then embark on your old life. It is about living a life you enjoy while at the same time pursuing your health goals. When doing high-intensity CrossFit training, you are literally chasing after the numbers.
This means your body system needs to be replenished with the nutrients necessary to help you fuel and recover after a workout. From experience, this is difficult to achieve when eating clean all the time.
Striking the Balance
There are two ways you can tackle this. The first is to eat clean 90 or 100% of the time and thereafter indulge in less clean sources so that you can get the much-needed extra food. Alternatively, you can eat clean about 75% of the time and spend the rest on eating enough.
For the 25%-75% approach, how you allocate the non-clean eating (25%) will determine how sustainable your diet will be. Some athletes use cheat meals in the name of CrossFit Nutrition, but these lack long-term sustainability and may not fit well into your lifestyle.
The easiest yet effective way is to restrict the 25% to non-clean eating at least on a meal per day preferably on your post-workout diet.
Putting the Theory into Practice
Taking homemade chicken, spinach, broccoli, and a side of peas together with potato wedges and some sour cream can give you a good balance between a satisfying meal and a clean meal. The potato wedges will spike up your calorific intake and edge your carbohydrate count closer to your target. This can be a good post-workout meal.
When you are having an unhealthy day, you can use smoothies to boost your clean percentage. Avoid eating store sandwiches and instead, go for real homemade food. There are lots of foods outside there that promise a clean CrossFit diet, yet do not measure up. Beware of such foods.