As promised – part two! I’m going to focus on food and supplementation – basically what you ingest (besides water) that helps your body recover from a workout.


Disclaimer: this article is not a substitute for medical advice. I am not a doctor nor do I play one on TV.


In my field of work (information technology), we have a saying when it comes to computer programming: “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” The same is true for athletic training. If you put garbage into your body, you are going to have a hard time recovering from workouts.

There are a lot of schools of thought on this. CrossFit HQ has their Nutrition plan based on the Zone principles of weighing and measuring your food. Currently, The Foundry is doing a Whole30 challenge, based on the Whole9Life plan. Another popular approach is the Primal diet, which is a lot like Paleo but with some additions, like cheese and some dairy.

From my personal experience, I think everyone should do a Whole30 at least once.  It’s a great way to hit the “restart” button on your digestive system and see what works for you.  Once you strip down your diet to protein, veggies, fruit, and nuts, you can experiment with adding food back in to see if it helps or hinders you.  Food is a big part of our lives, and our relationship with food is important. It’s only recently that I’ve started to see food as “fuel” for my life, and not a source of stress and guilt because I ate “the wrong thing”. However, eating healthy and eating enough is important for recovery. What you eat pre- and post-workout also depends on a lot on you. Some people can’t eat anything before they workout. Some need to eat a meal before they workout. After workouts, some people need to eat immediately, others need to wait a while.

My general rule of thumb is to make every effort to eat well all the time, but focus on getting protein post-workout to replenish my muscles. Adding a little bit of carbs can be good too (think sweet potato), but don’t overdo it like I have in the past and eat two bowls of cereal when you get home.  Yes, that has happened more than once (I’ve actually lost count).

You can usually find a substitute for a food you like to make it “healthier”.  There are a lot of recipe blogs out there that create “Paleo Cookies” and “Primal Ice Cream” and other treats, which gives the illusion that they are healthy. If you think you can just make all your favorite foods “Paleo” and eat as much as you want and not set yourself back, think again. You still need to eat vegetables and meat as primary sources in your diet!  There’s a reason why Cookie Monster says that cookies are a “sometime food”.

A Note on Timing: if you’re in competition season, do not drastically change your diet in the middle of it. You may find that initially when you start eating differently, your body takes time to adjust, and you might feel sluggish or not quite yourself. That’s normal, but you don’t want to feel that in the middle of a marathon or Tough Mudder.

Give your body the right foods, and then start thinking about…


There are many more scientific posts than this on the Internet about CrossFit and the proper supplementation required, but I’m going to stick to the basics and provide some additional reading sources if you want more information.

Fish Oil – there is no reason to not take fish oil. Fish oil has been shown to help reduce muscle inflammation caused by exercise. Fish oil is a source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which is an essential nutrient your body needs to convert to EPA and DHA, which help build hormones that control immune function, blood clotting, and cell growth as well as components of cell membranes (more science on fish oil here). Taking a daily dose of fish oil keeps you healthier and keeps you less sore. You can find fish oil at pharmacies, Costco, or you can order it online.

Vitamin D – in my research I found a post from CrossFit Portland that explains the benefits of Vitamin D supplementation better than I can in this article. To summarize – we get most of our Vitamin D exposure from sunlight and our diet. Most humans are deficient, especially if they live in an area that gets reduced sunlight for a chunk of the year (hello winter in Chicago).  Vitamin D intake can strengthen the immune system, improves your ability to handle insulin spikes (like after you eat a meal), and is inversely related to the risk of common cancers.

Protein Supplements – you’ve seen your teammates with their shaker bottles after workouts. What’s the deal with protein? We did a Facebook post about the recovery protein supplement from Formulx that we carry in the gym (the one I use personally).  Usually recovery proteins are whey-based (dairy), but there are also various other types like egg protein or vegetable protein. The Foundry chose Formulx due to the fact that the whey comes from grass-fed cows, it is low in sweeteners, and is gluten-free. Additionally, the Formulx recovery formula has BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) that have been shown to aid in muscle gains and fat loss.  However, there are many protein supplements on the market to choose from – the recommendation is to choose one that is low in sweeteners and other chemical additives.

Creatine/Glutamine/Etc – these are supplements that I personally do not take. You may have an interest in these if you want to be a competitive CrossFit athlete or have other athletic goals outside the gym.  I’ll link you to some articles I’ve found that can answer some questions about these types of supplements.

Creatine – University of Maryland Medical Center -or- further reading from muscles.zone

Glutamine – from the University of Maryland Medical Center

Supplementation for Competition – from the CrossFit Journal

The Foundry carries the Formulx brand of Creatine and Glutamine if you’re interested in trying them out.

If you have any questions about this article or Part One, leave a comment or ask me personally in the gym!