In our previous article, how to eat to supercharge your CrossFit results, we told you how to eat to get the most out of your CrossFit workouts. We even introduced the types of foods you should eat and gave you a quick introduction to calories and macros.
In this article, we will expand further on 3 simple mistakes that could be ruining your weight loss efforts.
You’re Trying to Out Train a Bad Diet
But I thought CrossFit was perfect for burning calories I hear you scream.
You’re right, it is!
But let me explain.
In its most simplistic form, weight management comes down to two things, calories in versus calories out.
If the calories coming in are greater than the calories going out (being used/burned) you will gain weight
If the calories going out are more than the calories coming in, you will lose weight.
If the calories are equal, you will maintain your weight.
Everyone knows that you get calories in, by eating or drinking and you expel calories by moving whether exercising or going for a walk, all movement, even breathing, burns calories.
The general premise is the more you move the more calories you burn and the more calories you burn, the more you can influence weight loss. Therefore CrossFit, which burns a tonne of calories, should be perfect right?
Many people will go into a CrossFit class expecting to work hard, and they do.
They exit the class, dripping in sweat, satisfied and sore, but happy with the work they’ve put in and safe in the knowledge that they’ve burned a tonne of calories.
How Much Exactly?
The American Council on Exercise calculates that a 169lb individual completing 40 minutes of intense exercise would burn 408 calories.
After warming up, stretching and cooling down, that’s pretty close to the time you’d actually be working in a CrossFit class.
Let’s say you work a little harder in the warm-up and we bring your total up to 50 minutes, as per ACE calculation you would burn 511 calories in that time.
That’s 3 more calories than you’d find in a Big Mac.
In the blink of an eye, you could undo all of your hard work with a few swift bites and the hard work would be for nothing.
That’s the problem, the calories in food/drink is often equal to or much greater than what you can burn from a standard workout.
Let’s say it wasn’t a Big Mac, but instead, Oreo cookies, you’d only need to eat 9 to unravel your hard work and take the calories back in.
Do you like a drink?
Well, 1 bottle of wine is enough to replace the calories you’ve just burned off and give you a few extra to store.
It sounds obvious right?
I mean everyone knows that if you want to lose weight you have to eat more sensibly.
But unfortunately no, no they don’t.
You see, many people will grossly overestimate their performance and time spent actually working out, increasing their true calorie expenditure beyond reality.
That 50 minutes of INTENSE exercise, may actually be closer to 30 minutes of moderate to high-intensity exercise, bringing the calories down from 500 to 300 (the equivalent of a baked potato).
As a result, people think they’re burning excessive calories and don’t entertain the thought that it could be wrong.
They continue to eat more than they should, equating their sore muscles with a high calorie burn and placing too much emphasis on the workout, thinking it can offset the results of eating to much.
Although moving more is going to help you to burn more calories, if you don’t modify your eating and continue to mindlessly shovel food into your mouth, your weight won't budge, the old adage, that you can’t out train a bad diet is true.
Although you need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight, you don’t need to live off salads and berries.
In fact, taking part in CrossFit may allow you to eat more than you would have believed, as you need to fuel your body for the grueling workouts ahead.
But thinking about those workouts is only the first step.
Now you’ve actually got to do them, a mistake many make.
Injuries are a part of any sport, CrossFit included, and an eagerness to keep up with everyone else can often be the downfall of many a CrossFit athlete.
When you start CrossFit you should do your best and try to achieve as much as you can, but remember to pace yourself.
Warming up properly, activating and mobilizing the body should be your initial priority, before executing the exercises with proper form.
Neglecting any of these two areas is a quick way to get injured.
And if you’re injured, you can’t burn the calories off.
Have you ever seen a retired sports star that’s pilled on the pounds and has all of a sudden ballooned up?
It’s because they are no longer doing the amount of exercise they used to, but are still eating too much.
If you don’t pace yourself and are constantly injured, in your pursuit of RXing the workouts, you could find your weight loss efforts stall very quickly.
Instead, work to your capabilities, don’t be afraid of modifying exercises until you’ve progressed sufficiently and ensured that whatever you do, you don’t compromise your form.
You’re Consistently Inconsistent
Do you go to CrossFit to take part in a great workout, mix with like-minded people and smash your previous best week after week, or do you go to CrossFit to tell everyone about it but only actually take part once every couple of weeks?
This might sting a little, but they say the truth hurts.
If you don’t get off your ass and get to class, you won’t lose weight!
Being inconsistent is the quickest way to ruin any fitness goal.
Going to a class here, completing a WOD there, won’t make any difference in the long run if there’s no consistency to it.
If you’re serious about CrossFit, if you’re serious about losing weight, if you’re serious about changing your body and challenging your mind, then you need to go to class.
I get it, I really do.
Things come up, the class times are weird, your body aches.
But it’s all just noise.
If you want to get results then you have to be prepared to work for them, on your good days and your bad ones.
Missing classes and being inconsistent will just set you back.
You’ll fall behind and stall your own progress and in the end, you’ll be the one to lose out.
Conclusion: So What Should I Do to Ensure I Lose Weight from CrossFit?
We tend to make weight loss harder than it should be.
As this article said right at the start, from a simplistic point of view, stay in a calorie deficit and you will lose weight.
Calories in Vs Calories Out is King
But for your own personal benefit, you may need a little more.
CrossFit is an amazing workout that can help you to blast calories like there’s no tomorrow.
It helps to build muscle, which in turn increases your metabolism, and even more, you’ll have fun doing it as the workouts help to foster a team spirit. .
But it isn’t the savior you think it is.
Nutrition, Consistency, and Effort are All Equally Important
To truly be effective in your weight loss efforts start by tracking your calories and recording everything you eat and drink against your personal goal.
Once you know this number you can plan your nutrition for the week ahead and ensure you’re not going over your calories, try to aim for a 500 calories surplus to lose 1lb a week.
Be Consistent With What You’re Doing
Aim for a minimum of three workouts a week and don’t miss them.
See these sessions as pre-arranged meetings with yourself, and don’t cancel.
This applies to the nutrition too.
I’ve worked with clients in the past who haven’t eaten right because of random social events, don’t fall into the same trap.
Be consistent with your training and your nutrition and good things will happen.
Finally, give it 100 percent effort.
This means in your training sessions, give it everything you’ve got. Don’t stop for a chat or extend your water break to a little further than necessary.
Give each and every workout your all and watch as your body goes from strength to strength.
You will get stronger, fitter and more formidable by the day.
This also applies to your nutrition.
Give it your all.
Make the effort to plan ahead of time, prepare what you can ahead of time and eat according to your goals and the body you want.
If you do these things, consistently, properly, you will see amazing results in your fat loss and will be overwhelmed with the results.
CrossFit will deliver the results you want.