You started CrossFit and everything seemed to be going so well! You lost weight, you felt stronger, and you started seeing muscles show up you didn’t even know you had. Then things slowed. Weight loss stalled or perhaps you even put some weight back on. Or maybe you went into CrossFit hoping to lose weight and 6 months to a year later, you are still stuck at the same body fat percentage. So what is the deal?!
Let’s start with how CrossFit helps you lose weight. CrossFit burns a ton of calories, dependent on how hard you push yourself as well as the amount of volume you do. If you are coming from a different training regiment that wasn’t as intensive, most likely you will see body fat loss due to the increase in energy output. If your energy output exceeds your energy intake, you will lose weight. So if it is this easy, why do some people struggle to lose weight?
- You are Eating More Than You are Burning– Just because you do CrossFit does not mean you will lose weight or can get away with eating recklessly. You still need to be in a deficit in order to lose weight…that is the rule!
- You are Eating Too Few Carbs– Sorry kids, but low carb doesn’t cut it for this sport. When it comes to a glycolytic sport, your body wants it’s #1 preferred energy source, carbs. Don’t make your body struggle to create the fuel it needs to push through workouts. But why do low carb diets work initially? They can work initially when your hormones are in a healthy state. But once your added training and low carb stress become chronic, your hormones can wane and that is when things tend to stop working and the body fat slowly creeps back on. This is why a lot of people end up slowly gaining weight back while following a paleo diet. Is paleo a bad “diet”? No, if you can get in enough carbs while eating foods that are paleo approved. But that is quite challenging for most athletes when eating the proper amount of carbs. When in a cut, I may eliminate rice from my diet to decrease hunger, but potatoes still make up a good bit of my carbs or else I would struggle to hit my daily grams of carbs.
- Your Hormones Suck– Whether from not enough sleep, too much life stress, a crappy diet, or even consuming foods that are causing inflammation, you are adding stress to the pot. Throw in a low calorie diet low in carbs and you can pretty much guarantee yourself a low libido, no motivation or energy, and weight gain. For the lucky resilient types or those with fabulous genes, they may be able to get away with this lifestyle for a while before they see negative side effects. For the not so lucky, they potentially lead themselves down a rabbit hole that can lead to injury, fat gain, and thyroid issues.
- Your Stress Levels Suck– Whether from lack of sleep, too much stress at work/home, an inflammatory diet, not eating enough, chronic injuries, or too much training, your body is under way too much stress. If the body is under too much stress, it will not be willing to part with body fat. Lower the stressors, and it will be willing to part with what it doesn’t truly need.
Ok, great. But what can you do to lose weight if you find yourself fitting this mold?
- Eat Carbs– eat a minimum of 40% of your calories in the form of carbs. This will help lower the stress on the body during exercise and will give you the energy to push yourself in workouts. Amazing how good carbs will make you feel!
- Take Care of Yourself– get a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep, shoot for no later than a 10pm bedtime, decrease external stressors as much as possible, work on “letting go” of things outside of your control, make sure your needs are being met, do things that make you happy.
- Diet– Being in a caloric deficit can be a stressor. Sometimes simply eating more can start the weight loss train rolling again. By decreasing this one stressor, the body is more willing to let go of excess body fat as it isn’t worried its survival is in jeopardy.
- Reduce Volume/Intensity– Everyone is a unique snowflake when it comes to volume and how much they can handle. The same goes for how much volume one can do and still lose weight simultaneously. Some of my clients I advise to pull back on the volume/CNS intensive work and others are fine to keep at it as long as they feel good. I, myself, am one that needs to pull back on volume to lose weight at a respectable pace.
Making these changes won’t necessarily lead to instant weight loss as it depends greatly on hormone health for most. But these changes will set you up to heal, destress, and allow you to lose weight down the road!
Side note: Curious about getting your hormones tested? Check out my functional diagnostic testing page by CLICKING HERE and send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions!
Also I am giving a FREE Nutrition Webinar this Sunday at 7pm EST! If you can’t make it, don’t worry as I will be sending out a replay link that will be active for the next few days. CLICK HERE to sign up!