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View Full Version : Elite Zoners: Athlete's Zone?


Greg Battaglia
12-05-2007, 10:02 PM
Ok, so admittedly, these days I've been a hell of a lot closer to Zone ratios than in the past. I know, some will drill me for going Zone after bashing the hell out of it for so long, but oh well. I'm not afraid to admit I was wrong. I switched from an Paleo/low-carb approach to Paleo/Zone Anyway, I know that over at CF Coach claims that all his top athletes follow the zone strictly. When he mentions this is he referring to standard zone ratios, or the athletes Zone in which fat blocks are increased 3-5X? For example, people like Greg A., Eva T., etc. Thanks, if I get drilled, I deserve it, lol.

Jane Michel
12-06-2007, 04:26 AM
Interesting question. I think Coach is referring to Zone + upped fat blocks (even though some would say that isn't Zone anymore) because Nicole and Greg A are (or were) definitely doing that.

Garrett Smith
12-06-2007, 06:40 AM
Greg,
I believe Coach Glassman is really referring to his athletes WAMing their food to ensure consistency of intake.

Without knowing the macros that are going in, one can't gauge their "food" performance.

Gant Grimes
12-06-2007, 11:57 AM
The Zone is concerned with carb--protein ratio, so increasing the fat doesn't affect that ratio (i.e. doesn't take you out of the Zone).

I know that over at CF Coach claims that all his top athletes follow the zone strictly. When he mentions this is he referring to standard zone ratios, or the athletes Zone in which fat blocks are increased 3-5X?

Robb W. refers to the athlete's Zone in "42 Ways to Skin the Zone" as increasing the fat in a traditional Zone up to five times the normal amount, or 25-15-60.

I have no doubt that many top performers are strict zoners, but there are a few good ones that aren't. One of these guys eats about 3500 calories a day, in Zone conforming ratios, and trains with mostly OLY lifting; another guy eats an "unmeasured" Zone diet; and a third eats organic foods with the occasional rice and pasta. I'm referring to Josh Everett, James Fitzgerald, and Brett Marshall, the top three finishers at the CrossFit Games (CFJ 60, pg. 11).

Greg Battaglia
12-06-2007, 12:24 PM
Thanks. I'm aware of the Zone philosophy. I was mostly curious as to what those elite CFer's were doing. The reason I ask is because on the Crossfit main site the recommendations are geared toward standard Zone ratios with no mention of the athletes Zone or upping fat blocks once dialed in. I was also wondering if the 6 meals/day schematic actually works for anyone. I personally can't do it. I'm mostly just sticking to an eye-ball zone in that i fill 2/3 0f my plate with steamed veggies, 1/3 with lean meat or eggs, and a small piece of fruit on the side with a small handful of nuts. Eat when hungry.

Greg Battaglia
12-06-2007, 12:28 PM
P.S. So Dr. G, you're basically saying that the main point he was trying to make is that consciously controlling your variables is the take-home message? I'm thinking about giving the Zone a go, 100%. I've never done it full-compliance before (I should have before talking trash on it) and am curious to see if the performance gains are as drastic as I hear.

Mike ODonnell
12-06-2007, 12:53 PM
am curious to see if the performance gains are as drastic as I hear.

Compared to what? If people just starting CF are doing the zone are raving about results...I have a feeling their eating was crap before that....so really not going to be a good comparison. Zone keeps your muscle glycogen steady and enough protein to keep muscle so I imagine it works....but it's a pain in the ass eating that much in perfect ratio, and I see greater benefit in more random macronutrient variables and timing...rather than some strict % all day every day. That being said...it can work...but I have a feeling most people that rave about it were not eating healthy in the first place.

Garrett Smith
12-06-2007, 01:10 PM
Greg,
I believe the main point Coach Glassman is making is that the standard Zone ratios are the best place he has found for starting folks into the great nutrition experiment of one (themselves). Even Sears says the same. Start there, then after observation and educated guesses, one can start tweaking.

Without WAMing, ever, one doesn't know where they are coming from in order to make future changes.

Standard Paleo/Zone worked awesome for me to lower BF% in the beginning of my CF experience. I did notice that I didn't like having to eat fruit (fresh or dried) to get to my full carb block allotment, it tended to make me feel really bloated and I got the 2-3pm "crash" when I went hypoglycemic from too many carbs. After the expected BF% "crash" and subsequently upping the fat blocks, I was back on track mostly, except then I felt even more bloated when I had to have fruit.

So I eventually went to mainly Paleo with BED influence. If I had to redo the WAM approach now, I would immediately cut the carb blocks in half and up the fat to compensate.

I would never have come to this realization without ever WAMing my food and watching my performance and how I felt. I don't know that I ever want to associate eating with such an OCD practice again, personally. Was it an extremely valuable learning experience? Absolutely.

BTW, I never actually weighed. If I cooked up a pound of ground beef (16 blocks) and I only needed to eat 8, I'd eat what I estimated was half of it. I did measure, though. Personally, buying a scale was an expense I didn't want to justify, and my results seemed to show that being that anal wasn't necessary.

You may want to "reverse-engineer" your diet, that is, WAM what you would normally eat now, without consciously changing the food amounts you would normally eat. FitDay would likely be a big help in doing that.

Hope that helps! You will benefit from the experiment, you just might not know how at this moment.

Gant Grimes
12-06-2007, 02:00 PM
Thanks. I'm aware of the Zone philosophy. I was mostly curious as to what those elite CFer's were doing. The reason I ask is because on the Crossfit main site the recommendations are geared toward standard Zone ratios with no mention of the athletes Zone or upping fat blocks once dialed in. I was also wondering if the 6 meals/day schematic actually works for anyone. I personally can't do it. I'm mostly just sticking to an eye-ball zone in that i fill 2/3 0f my plate with steamed veggies, 1/3 with lean meat or eggs, and a small piece of fruit on the side with a small handful of nuts. Eat when hungry.

From CFJ 21, "Unfortunately, the full benefit of the Zone is largely limited to those who have at least at first weighed and measured their food...natural variances in caloric intake and macronutrient composition without measurement are greater than the resolution required to turn good performance to great."

Mike, my results--performance and recovery--improve dramatically the more I WAM. I had CF'd for several months using the eyeball method and had decent results. I decided to follow the advice of other CFers and try to stricter plan for a couple weeks. It didn't take more than a couple days to tell the difference. I was eating the same foods, but my eyeball method didn't come close. 80% accuracy is not 100% accuracy.

I have just now become comfortable enough with nutrition to modify my program. I have increased my protein by about 30%, halved the carbs, and jacked up the fat. If I have to eat out, I get a measured portion of protein, a Greek salad and a shot of olive oil (or a chicken fried steak if the mood hits me).

WAM can be a bit of a pain, but pure Paleo and IF aren't realistic options for me. I eat everything but dinner at work, so it's not a big deal to slap some meat on the postal scale, measure some peaches or strawberries, and take a measured shot of olive oil.

Greg, I eat three 5P/2C/15F meals at work, a 2P/1C/9F preWO, and a 5P/6C postWO shake, and a 5P/4C/9F dinner. Total=27P/17C/63F. Nothing difficult about it.

My advice to anyone contemplating the Zone is to read CJF 21, read Robb Wolf's article about swapping fat for carbs, and WAM for at least two weeks (the eyeball method isn't worth a damn if your eyeballs aren't trained).

Greg Battaglia
12-06-2007, 02:39 PM
Thanks for the informative replies. Great stuff. My problem is that every time I try to go Zone I simply can't make it because calories drop to low due to a busy schedule. A more random schedule works better because some days I'll have class earlier or later, some days I don't have work, etc. I'm drawn toward the Zone because recently I've been forced to pack in lots of calories in a very small time period, and this has not done good things for my health. I need smaller portions, as my digestive system simply cannot handle such large quantities of food at once. The Zone may not be an option, I don't know. I could go back to IF with a 6 hour nightly feeding window but that became troublesome in the past due to a lack of time for eating due to family/social responsibilities. Any suggestions?

Gant Grimes
12-06-2007, 03:20 PM
When I was straight Zoning, I had trouble with the volume of food I was eating. There's just too damn much, especially when you approach 20 blocks all around. Now, I can get a 5P/2C/15F meal with 5 oz. smoked turkey, a little BBQ sauce (yeah, I know), and a shot of olive oil. Sufficient blocks, no indigestion, and no crapping like a pack mule.

Garrett Smith
12-06-2007, 03:39 PM
Totally agree with Gant.

Towards the end of my Zone days, I decided I wanted to get bigger. I weighed around 175 at ~7%BF. I decided I wanted to be 200 at around 7% BF. So I decided to eat like I would have to if I was 200 pounds, figured out my blocks and all.

Talk about feeling crappy and forcing food down! The indigestion only got worse, as I had to eat more and more fruit in order to fit in MORE carb blocks! That's the last time I think I'll ever actively try to get bigger (unless Coach Greg E. puts a "hypertrophy" phase into the CA WODs, but I still won't change my eating!). I also believe that was the end of the Zone and the beginning of unmeasured Paleo with BED influences.

Chris Forbis
12-06-2007, 03:55 PM
The Zone (Sears' forum, to be specific) is actually how I discovered Crossfit. I spent about 1-1.5 years on it, before moving on to other (better) stuff. I find I do better on lower carbs. I am still a WAM Nazi though.

Greg Battaglia
12-09-2007, 04:08 PM
I've been following the Zone pretty tightly the past few days and I've observed a few things, some good, some bad:

Good
-I never feel bloated after meals
-I'm leaning out a bit

Bad
-ravenous hunger, at times
-No fatigue, but a lack of energy for workouts
-Relying on too much fruit to meet carb levels

Chances are this won't last long.

Jonathan Owen
12-11-2007, 02:57 AM
Gant, do you use any tricks to help down the olive oil, or just open up a can-of-man and do it? I have tried shots of oil before, and felt like puking for hours aterwards!

Jon

Jordan Glasser
12-11-2007, 06:27 AM
Greg,

Right about the same time you began this post I restarted the zone. My reasons for switching from were because my attempt in seasonal approach to IF/Paleo surely did not match my activity level and types of physical activity (I am way more active in the winter). When I became more of a PWO carb nazi, I decided that I was pretty close to zoning, so I may as well jump back in. The one other reason was I believed I was eating too much protein. Along the lines of what you posted in another thread.

I'm still on top of my pwo carbs, and sometimes my a little pre-workout with great results. Since everyone's beef with the zone seems to be volume of food and eating all the carb blocks, basically I just dont' eat'em unless I need'em. If I don't workout heavy, and stay away of metcons, I eat about 6-8 of my 16 blocks of carbs, replacing those with added fat. With my carbs all green and leafy and volumous to help fill me up. In the end it's very much so like a paleo diet, but, I WAM, and have limited amounts of protein.

BTW, except for adding some whey protein as of late, everything else is 100% paleo.

Have to run, but results have been great. Leaned out a little, energy level up, and performance up.

I'll get back to this when I get finish work.........

Greg Davis
12-11-2007, 07:46 AM
Jonathan,

Its can be just like taking a shot of alcohol, and theres a way to take it down where you don't taste it at all. Just slug it back but have a drink ready, and don't swallow until you follow up with the swig of your drink.

I bring a travel olive oil bottle (small one I just refill) with my meals if I have to bring a lunch etc., and if needed I just follow up the meal by swigging right from the bottle and chasing it down with my drink/water.

No way I'm swallowing olive oil on its own, thats when you get the nasty taste (worse if your oil quality isnt great).

Learned how to do it taking back shots of gin in college... but for some reason its hard to explain and some people dont get how to do it. Not that shooting olive oil should be a mainstay of a diet but hey gotta do whatcha gotta do sometimes to keep it real.

Troy Archie
12-11-2007, 07:58 AM
Buy really good Olive Oil if you want to take it down straight. You'll find it easier to take down and eventually probably really like the taste, that's what at least has happened for me. Also, check out Scotty's Mayonnaise recipe in PM Issue 28 of May '07. That stuff is gold.

Jordan Glasser
12-11-2007, 12:17 PM
I take swigs of olive oil all the time. It's fine by me. Troy's right, there are some that are more palatable then others. I don't know if pure price makes it better tasting for me....I go with a generic brand organic, Taste great!

Troy Archie
12-11-2007, 12:32 PM
Look for First Cold Pressed Olive Oil.

Gant Grimes
12-12-2007, 07:54 AM
Jonathan, I just take it down. After a couple swigs, it's no longer a problem. It also makes it easier if you think about all the stinking carbs you don't have to eat because of it.

Try drinking it in front of other people. It will take you back to the school-yard days of eating disgusting things and grossing out classmates. For some reason, that steels your stomach a bit, and it doesn't seem to taste as bad.

Do like others said and find a good olive oil. I forget the brand, but I've found a good batch of cold-pressed extra virgin that's bold and spicy. I'm trying the fast thing today, and I can't wait to tear into it.

Jonathan Owen
12-12-2007, 05:53 PM
Thanks guys! I will look for a better quality cold pressed olive oil. Greg, I will give the shot&chaser technique a try, I think that will work pretty good for me. If that fails, I am going with Gants idea and just try to gross out everyone around me!

Jon

Greg Battaglia
12-12-2007, 07:02 PM
Ditched the Zone due to insane amounts of hunger, plus poor performance. I'm gonna go with the "eat whenever you're hungry, and stop when satisfied, but not stuffed" method. That seems to never fail.

Steve Liberati
12-13-2007, 04:25 AM
Greg,
I had the same hunger problems as you on the Zone. However, only after a few weeks the hunger pains started to subside (I'm thinking as a result of stablized hormone and blood sugar levels). After awhile I did end up ditching the accuracy of the scale in place of eyeballing zone portions. It just become to much of a hassle coutning calories. I have to say it was a good learning experience for me though, as I didn't realize how many extra calories I was previosily eating. When did you start the zone by the way? Seemed like it was only a short awhile ago...

Troy Archie
12-13-2007, 07:46 AM
The thing I hate the most about the Zone is hearing about people going out to expensive resturants or family functions and trying to keep things in Zone ratio.