Eat to Thrive, Not Survive

There are a lot of areas in life where “good enough” can be the goal. Ultimately you have a finite amount of time on this planet and if a task is not important to you then you want to outsource it or put in the minimum effective dose of effort so you can move on with your day. 
There are also many areas where you should put in your very best work. When it comes to movement you want to be strong and pain-free. When you do your taxes you ensure that they are accurate and timely. When you spend time with the ones you love you put the phone away and are fully present in the moment. 
One area that often gets the “good enough” treatment is your diet and nutrition. When life gets busy or making healthy choices becomes inconvenient the spectrum of foods you consume tends to take a dive in quality. Rather than let slide occur in favor of other activities that seem more important, you may find it worth your while to optimize your diet and nutrition. Here’s why: 
Even if the doctor says you are healthy, you are happy with the way you look, and you can’t stand cooking – nutrition is one area that literally transcends into ALL areas of your life. 
If you only ever aim for the minimum in your diet then you are capping your maximum potential in how much you can lift, creatively solve problems, and even love your family. 
We often treat food as an activity that gets scheduled into the day. Food breaks up the workday and provides structure in the evening. It is a social affair with the family or a way to do business. 
The foods you consume during the day are the driving force behind all of this. They not only provide the immediate nutrients needed to fuel your physical and mental performance but are also the long term building blocks for every cell in your body. Every bite you chew or sip you take is going to be broken down into the amino acids that build your muscles and organs. The fats and oils become the cell walls that handle communication between cells in your body and control processes like your immune system function and inflammatory response. The vitamins and minerals will help your body create the energy it needs to keep you moving and eliminating toxins from your body.
Scientists have even found links between our gut bacteria and neurological disease. The foods you are eating today and the way your prioritize diet could determine your likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease later in life. 
The way you choose to eat is affecting the way you live, both today and 40 years from now. If you want to be your best self for your family, your career, and the things you care about accomplishing in life then taking care of your nutrition is not a “nice to have”. It’s a must.
Not sure where to get started? Start by having a conversation with one of our  nutrition coaches today. 

The Top 5 Most Important & Obvious Markers for Health you still ARE NOT doing

When it comes to the field of nutrition and health it seems to be full of mythology, politics and a lot of grey area instead of simply being straight forward science and black and white recommendations.  Part of the reason for this is not only that much of it really is political but also studies are not only expensive but can be slanted towards a researches bias.  Since Ancel Keys[i] vilified saturated fat and cholesterol in the 1970s people have been afraid to eat meat, especially bacon and anything high in fat.  Now we know this has been a completely false recommendation and concern as it has been shown that there is no association between saturated fat and CVD.[ii][iii]  Just this last week Dr. Oz to my surprise admitted he was wrong on the topic of saturated fat.[iv] 

With all the myths and confusion out there I want to get back to the basics and give you a short list of the most important factors effecting our health that the vast majority of authorities all agree upon.   

1. Water Consumption: Everyone knows that the body is made up of mostly water and you will very quickly die without it…so drink your water!  Evidence has not shown that drinking a ton of water will improve health[v], however its clear that dehydration is always detrimental to health.  You can get away with a surprising little amount of water if you are sedentary but I hope that’s not my audience, so my recommendation will be largely exercise specific as the more you sweat the more fluids you need.  It has been shown that weight loss of more than 4% of body weight during exercise may lead to heat illness, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke[vi].  To make up for this loss of fluid, the athlete should consume 0.5 to 2 L/h of fluid.

Summary:  Don’t stress out about drinking a lot of water, but rather use thirst and exercise as your guides to water consumption.  My recommendation is to consume a tall glass of water first thing in the morning, another 1 liter within the 60min. following the average CrossFit workout, and for the rest of the day use thirst as your guide. 

2. Sleep: Perhaps more then anything else in life by which you have control over, the quality of your sleep has the biggest impact on your health and longevity.  A bad or missed nights sleep makes the following worse:

A lack of sleep as you can see literally makes everything in life worse.  There is literally no good excuse for continued missed sleep.  If you have come to me asking about supplements to increase your exercise performance, you should take a step back and realize improved sleep will do way more for your health and performance then any (legal) supplement. New research has actually shown something that is completely unique to sleep, which is that fact that our brain cells actually shrink allowing our cerebral fluid to flow more easily.  This increase circulation helps clear out toxins while we sleep, which again makes sleep absolutely critical.  You can listen to a short NPR piece on this topic –[xv] 

Summary:  Getting 8-9hrs. of sleep is critical for your health, likely more then anything else including the best possible diet.  The following are my top 6 recommendations for improving sleep quality:

  1. Decrease exposure to LED light 2hrs before bed. 
    1. Install onto your computer asap!
    2. Buy Blue Light blocking glasses –
    3. Sleep in a cold room between 60-70°F
    4. Sleep in a completely blacked out room – You can’t see your own hand.
    5. Supplement with a 200-400mg of chelated magnesium 30-60min before bed.
    6. Don’t be completely full or hungry:  Eat dinner a few hours before sleep and if you are on a low carb diet, 1-2tsp. of honey right before bed can be beneficial.
    7. Perform 10-15min of foam/lacrosse ball rolling before bed – How do you feel after a massage?  Like you’re ready for a fight or ready for a nap?…Exactly


3.Go Outside: Getting outside in nature is one of the most primal things you can do and anecdotally its one of the most therapeutic and stress relieving activities.  Save a few bucks on a therapist by simply taking a hike.   This may sound tongue-in-cheek however spending at least some of your day outdoors could save your life or at minimum raise your overall mood.  The biggest mechanism is by the production of vitamin D via the exposure to sunlight.  Vitamin D is perhaps the most deficient nutrient, especially among northern Americans.  Its likely the closest thing to a “Super Nutrient” that we have partly because so many people are deficient but mainly because of all the mechanisms its involved in such as: gene expression, hypertension, mood/depression, sex hormones, bone health, inflammation, oxidative damage, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and the list continues.  New research is indicating that super doses or high levels of vitamin D may not be healthier and could be detrimental, however the consensus still seems to be to aim for a minimum of 30 ng/ml.[xvi][xvii][xviii][xix]

Summary:  Leave your phone at home or turn it off and get into nature to distress your life.  If you are fair skinned getting 20 or more minutes at peak sunlight could give you as much as 10,000IUs of vitamin D, however this exposure time increases with darker skin.  My recommendations is the following:

  • Get your Vitamin D levels tested
  • Spend 1hr. or more outside in the sun everyday.
  • Throw away your sunscreen as it can block the production of vitamin D, or apply only after an initial >20min. of exposure.
  • Supplement with 2-4,000IUs of vitamin D each unexposed day
  • Supplement with up 1tsp. of Green Pastures Cod Liver Oil, as it’s the best possible food source of Vitamin D with optimal levels of Vitamin A and K2 combined together –
    • Other food sources of Vitamin D are: Seafood, Eggs & Beef Liver
    • Whenever possible walk barefoot or use “earthing” sandals such as these ones –

4. Movement: “Sitting Is The New Smoking” 

Answer the following questions:

Do you spend the majority of your day in some kind of movement?  Or do you spend the majority of your day sitting?  Not only does sitting effect your postural health as well as give you a tight Psaos because your glutes and abs are relaxed which can decrease exercise performance.  However beyond that long term sitting greater increases weight gain and new research has shown that despite any physical activity done, if you sit for more then 6 hours per day you have a 40% greater risk of death over the next 15 years.  In fact marathon runners and exercisers alike are even more likely to follow up their day with sitting, which will not buffer the negative impact of hours of sitting.[xx][xxi]

Summary: If you spend multiple hours sitting per day try the following changes:

5. JERF: Just Eat Real Food

One of the primary reasons I support the Paleo approach to eating is simply because across all civilizations and even diets the primary cause of health decline among all of them is not high carb, low carb, high fat or low fat but simply when the food has been messed with by modern man and in turn becomes less and less “real”.  In my understanding even though you can find many health benefits from dairy, legumes and dare I say wheat more so when its fermented, the Paleo approach offers an eating approach that is the least messed with by modern processing techniques.  Since “Paleo” is a branded term and comes with its own baggage I often use JERF instead to simply refer to “Real Food”. 

When I use the word “Real” I am meaning it’s not processed or if it has been processed, you are either the one who processed it or you can actually speak to the person who processed it and the food has not been drastically changed from its original creation.  To quote John Durant, “to eat fewer processed foods actually means eat fewer industrial foods”.  In contrast real food is “grown on a farm or herded on a ranch” or gathered from the wild while industrial food is an invention of the Industrial Age and often developed in a laboratory.[xxii]  To know whether what you’re eating is an industrial food or real food often doesn’t need to be explained because you simply know for obvious reasons.  My favorite non-Paleo Nutrition writer is Michael Pollan, and here are his obvious Rules for Real Food[xxiii]:

  • Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food
  • Avoid food products that contain more then five ingredients
  • Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce
  • Avoid food products that make health claims (on the actual product)
  • Avoid food products that say “lite”, “lowfat” or “nonfat” in their names
  • Avoid food products that are pretending to be something they’re not (margarine)
  • Eat only foods that will eventually rot
  • Eat foods that have been cooked by a human being
  • Don’t ingest foods made in places where everyone is required to wear a surgical cap
  • If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t
  • It’s not food if it’s called by the same name in every language (cheetos, Big Mac)
  • Its not food if it arrived through the window of your car
  • Eat animals that have themselves eaten well
  • When you eat real food, you don’t need rules

Summary: Unless you have some kind of unique intolerance or allergy, as long as you eat “Real Food” and cut out “Industrial Food” it doesn’t matter what you call it, it’s a JERF diet and you will be healthier. 























[xxii] Durant, John. The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health. 1st ed. New York: Harmony, 2013. 103. Print.

[xxiii] Pollan, Michael. Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. New York: Penguin, 2009. Print.

Post Workout Nutrition – Protein Shake For Time!

Does the Post Workout “Window of Opportunity” even Matter?

If you read my previous article on energy systems and sports nutrition (If you didn’t read it, click here!) you may be thinking that in order to have strength and especially muscular gains in the gym you have to be pretty anal about your Nutrient Timing. You may even have gone as far as to think that whether you lose or gain muscle mass or simply recover depends entirely on how quickly after your last rep you can get that perfect ratio of sugar (dextrose) & magical Progenix protein peptides from the shaker bottle to your lips. In my last article I said the very alarming statement “Crossfit is Aerobics” and now I am going to say something way more blasphemous….

Post Workout Nutrition Timing DOESN’T MATTER (almost)

Since the beginning of time, part of the bodybuilders 10 Commandments has been the Post Workout Window of Opportunity, which is like a time bomb ticking down. The only way to diffuse it is to have a perfect combination of protein and some kind of special simple fast digesting carbohydrate such as dextrose, maltodextrin and waxy maize, or a patented superduper combination of all three! If this Gain City Shake is not consumed, the bomb will go off, and will result not only in zero gains, but actually losing gains making the entire workout a waste.

If this is truly what you believe and have been told, then as my favorite sports nutritionist and natural bodybuilder Dr. Layne Norton says, “#yougotgurud” – Seriously type that into

Now it is generally wise to bookend your workouts with adequate protein and carbohydrates especially if you’re an athlete, however lets briefly look at the 3 primary reasons for the Dogma of Post Workout Nutrition:
1. Glycogen Replenishment
2. Preventing Protein Breakdown
3. Raising Protein Synthesis

Glycogen Replenishment
This is perhaps the primary reason for the term “Window of Opportunity” as there is a legitimate window after exercise where our muscles are more permeable to glucose uptake, primarily because of the translocation of a protein called GLUT4 from the muscle belly to the membrane of the muscle. Both insulin and exercise signals GLUT4 to move to the surface of the muscle whereupon it acts like an open door or gate allowing glucose to freely travel into the muscle where you need it most. It is even shown that after this 2 hour Window the rate of glucose uptake can decrease by as much as 50%, which is huge.

With all the evidence in support of the all-important PWO timing, you can understand why we have placed so much value on glycogen replenishment. However, the need for immediate glucose intake post workout is based on a few presuppositions:
1. Our glycogen is completely empty after a workout: This is typically only true if you either didn’t begin your workout with a full tank of glucose, or your workout last over an hour of continuous work. A typical CrossFit workout might begin with a low volume Strength or Olympic lifting Part A of roughly 3-6 sets of 5-10 reps at 65-85% maximal intensity, and finish with an 8-20min. MetCon. This workout would use up roughly 30-60% of our muscle glycogen.
2. I need my glycogen to be completely full immediately: Roughly 95% of the members at Beaverton CrossFit do only one workout per day, 4-6 days per week. So why? Why are we in such as rush to have full gas (glycogen) tanks if we aren’t working out for another 24hours? The point is there is no rush for almost all of you! You can relax, as even though glucose uptake is fast immediately pwo, it almost doesn’t matter as you have plenty of time to recover.

Preventing Protein Breakdown
Insulin is anti-catabolic, which means it can prevent protein breakdown post exercise, which will then contribute the muscle hypertrophy. This has led to a lot of post workout insulin spiking via simple carbohydrates. There are two problems, one with the research and the other with application. First much of the research has been done in a fasted state, which greatly increases protein breakdown. Second, the effect of insulin on net muscle protein balance has a plateau that can easily be reached with amino acids or protein alone, without the added carbohydrate.

Raising Protein Synthesis
Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS) is required for the growth and repair of skeletal muscle mass (hypertrophy). Following a workout MPS is already elevated from the workout alone and the studies are extremely mixed as to whether immediately consuming protein has any added beneficial effect on MPS. The conclusive studies are again done in the fasted state. So the beneficial effect of increased levels of MPS post workout will likely have more to do with the previous meal consumed 1-2 hrs. pre-workout or an amino acid or protein supplement consumed 10-30min. pre workout.

For 95% or more of you, Post Workout specific nutrition and timing is nothing to freak out about. This is assuming you are eating 3-5 mixed healthy meals per day and getting roughly 30-45g of protein per meal. It is still generally good practice to consume a hefty meal post workout, which can be in the form of a protein shake, however its not necessary. If anything all I want to make clear is that after your workout there is no incredible rush to chug down a carb/protein shake, but rather you can take your time, go home and make a meal.

Exceptions: For the 1-5% of you, who fit the following description, being a little more attentive to PWO timing and quality will likely give you an extra edge.
• You are very lean: 3-8% BF
• You workout 2 or more times a day, totaling over 60-120min of work
• You are an endurance athlete
• You workout fasted

Did you find some or all of this information helpful? Do you want to sit down with Marcus one-on-one and get your nutrition dialed in? Email Melissa and get a consult set up! 

Wolford Wellness – Energy Systems and Sports Nutrition


With the CrossFit Open coming up you need to be performing at your very best. Perhaps the biggest limiting factor in performance is the rate by which your body uses energy compared to the rate by which your body produces energy.  When you consume food, this food fuels 3 different energy systems to produce usable energy: Phosphogen (ATP-PC), Anaerobic and Aerobic systems.  

Your goal as an athlete is to be as well conditioned (and skilled specific to movements required) as humanly possible, which simply means, you need to meet the energy demands of your sport.  In almost all sports, when an athlete gets tired, or even immediately following a burst of movement, that athlete is subbed for a fresh player, such as in basketball and especially football.  A running-back for example may only run a few yards (5-10) per carry, with a maximum of a 100 yard sprint, which is followed by a period of rest to get ready for the next play.  

In CrossFit, you have no one to sub in for you, and the demands of the sport are both high intense (snatch, box jump, muscle up), and moderate (wallballs, air squats, 400/800m or longer run), therefore this sport is one of the highest demanding sports of all 3 of the energy pathways known to man.  

So the level of your conditioning depends on how efficient the energy systems of your body are at creating energy.  This energy is called ATP – Adenosine Triphosphate.  Now that we know what to do, lets get busy and create some ATP!

ENTER The Energy Pathways of the Body

ATP-PC Anaerobic Energy Pathway

The ATP-PC energy pathway (sometimes called the phosphate system) supplies roughly 10 seconds worth of energy and is dominant during any maximum high intensity burst of movement such as any heavy Olympic Lift (Snatch), 3 rep max Squat or a 100 meter sprint. This pathway doesn’t require any oxygen to create ATP, which is why its part of the “Anaerobic” system.  The initial 2-3 seconds is created from the ATP stored in our muscles, and the rest of the ATP is created from Creatine-Phosphate. Increasing the stored Creatine-Phosphate through supplementation increases the duration of this system.  

Anaerobic Metabolism – Glycolysis

Glycolysis simply means the breakdown of glucose, so this system creates ATP exclusively from carbohydrates with lactate being a by-product (b/c of the absence of oxygen).  The glycolytic pathway provides much more energy then the ATP-PC, however in combination still only burns for a maximum of 2min. and reaches a peak at about 90sec.

Aerobic Metabolism

Aerobic metabolism with the presence of oxygen fuels most of the energy needed for long duration activity.  Its primary fuel source is fat, which is virtually limitless in supply, this is excellent for lower intensity exercise, however is a much slower process so it cannot supply nearly as much power as the previous two systems.  This is the dominant pathway for any sustained exercise over 3min.


As your WOD begins, ATP is being produced through a combination of all 3 energy systems, the factors that determine which system are most dominant depend on the amount of power needed for the movement (intensity), the amount of time required to produce the power, and the total duration of the exercise.  It is important to briefly mention that it is a complete misunderstanding of the term “Aerobics” to refer exclusively to very long duration, low intensity movements.  After only 2-3minutes, the aerobics system is the dominant system, so although crossfitters may not want to admit it, CrossFit is predominately an aerobic sport. ** Insert scary music


The ATP created from each of the energy pathways first originates from the food we consume.  Below I have provided very concise and general recommendations of the nutritional needs of the athlete. 


Consume at least 3-5 liters per day, depending on the humidity, exercise volume and food intake, the amount may be more or less.  Do not wait to be thirsty to start drinking water. 

Average Sweat loss rate is .5-2L/hr, which then needs to be replenished post exercise. This means you need to consume .5-2L of water following the bout.  This can also be determined based on before and after scale weight by drinking roughly 3 cups of water (24oz) for every lb lost.  


Consume at least 1.5-2g/kg or .7-1g/lb per day.  There is not a single study to date that shows consuming high levels of protein is harmful if you already have a healthy liver and kidneys, therefore I suggest consuming on the higher limit, especially if you are trying to shed bodyfat as protein is the most satiating macronutrient. 


For a 200lb male athlete, trying to get 200g of protein would be:

  • 2lbs or more of meat per day (plus or minus protein shakes)

–          5 eggs

–          8oz Grassfed ground beef

–          2, 4oz chicken breasts

–          2 Protein Shakes (45g each)


Carbohydrate intake based on Intensity and Volume:

  • Minimal Physical Activity: 1-3g/kg
  • Light Activity: (3-5hr/wk) 4-5g/kg
  • Medium Activity: (10hr/wk) 6-7g/kg
  • Elite Athletes: (20hr/wk) >7g/kg
  • Elite Endurance/Ultra: 7-12g
    ** Evidence also shows effectiveness at very low carbohydrate intake for endurance athletes which requires a fat intake of 65-85% of total calories.

** Specific amount depends on insulin sensitivity, number of hours or bouts of exercise, and intensity of exercise.  
** If your goal is fat loss, I provide tailored recommendations for specific needs, so please contact me for more information.

Post Workout Nutrition

–          Phase 1: Consume 1g/kg of carbohydrate plus .5g/kg of protein, w/ .5-1liter of water and a pinch of salt immediately following exercise (30-60min.).

–          Phase 2: Consume another meal with equivalent macros within 2hrs. following bout or roughly 1hr after your first PWO meal/shake


–          PWO Shake for a 200lb athlete: 45g Whey Protein, 90g dextrose, .5-1L water, plus 1/8tsp salt (340mg) or simply a “pinch”.

–          PWO Meal for a 200lb athlete: Two 3-4oz Chicken Breasts, 2 cups cooked white rice, .5-1L water, salt food.

** The salt is based on research that an athlete will lose on average 300-600mg of salt every hr. of exercise.  

This is quite possibly the most ergogenic aid next to plain ol’ water that you can do to benefit your fitness.  If your diet is perfect and your sleep is crappy, then say goodbye to performance. 

–          8/9hrs per night

–          Pitch Black Room: Take this seriously

–          Decrease/eliminate screen time roughly 2-4 hrs before sleep

  • Install f.lux on your computer
  • Purchase blue-light blocking glasses –

–          Take magnesium glycinate 30-60min. before bed

–          Consume caffeinated beverages no later then 12-2pm

Meal Timing:
“It takes about 4 hours for carbohydrate to be digested and begin being stored as muscle and liver glycogen. Consequently, pre-exercise meals should be consumed about 4 to 6 h before exercise.  This means that if an athlete trains in the afternoon, breakfast is the most important meal to top off muscle and liver glycogen levels. Research has also indicated that ingesting a light carbohydrate and protein snack 30 to 60 min prior to exercise (e.g., 50 g of carbohydrate and 5 to 10 g of protein) serves to increase carbohydrate availability toward the end of an intense exercise bout.” (


  • Creatine Monohydrate: (Creatine Phosphate System)
    – Loading Phase: Consume 15-25g/day for 5 days, broken into 2-3 increments

– Maintenance Phase: Consume 5g/day, optimally pwo

  • Beta-Alanine: (Glycolytic System)

– Consume 2-5g/day

** Start with small 1g doses for 2wks, then increase, as larger doses can cause tingling sensation.

  • Vitamin D3: Get your D levels checked to optimize specific dose.

– Consume 2-4,000IUs per day, optimally w/ meal in the morning.

  • Magnesium Glycinate or chelated amino blend:
    – Consume 200-600mg, 30-60min before bed

– Brands: Doctors Best & Source Naturals

  • Fish Oil: Brand I recommend is “NutriGold” and “GreenPastures”

– 1-2g/day

– Balance your supplemental intake with real food fish intake

  • BCAAs

– 5-10g, 15min. pre workout

Examples of Recommended Carbohydrate Sources:         

–          Dextrose 1tbsp (non-rounded)  = 10 grams

–          1 Cup Cooked White Rice (158g) – 45g

–          Medium Banana (118) – 27g carbs

–          Plantain (154g) – 48g carbs

–          Potato, Sweet Potato, Yam – 25/35g per medium

–          Cassava (100g) – 40g carbs, 1 entire root can be over 150g of carbohydrate

–          Apple – 25g

–          Date – 18

–          Peach – 15

–          Pear – 28

–          Mango – 35

–          Pineapple – 22g (1cup), over 100g for a whole fruit

–          1 Cup Packed Golden Raisin: 131g, 98g sugar

** All Dried fruit is going to be higher in sugar