Friday, 29 January 2010

Why we like weighing and measuring.

We like weighing and measuring our food. Not necessarily the Zone: we like weighing and measuring our food.

The Zone is 30% protein/30% fat/40% carbohydrate. By Barry Sears' own admission, this is merely a ratio that sits at the top of the bell curve. It's a good starting point, but it won't work for everyone. Robb Wolf said it best: "there is no magic ratio."

But we still like weighing and measuring. Not necessarily the Zone: weighing and measuring.

Lately it seems weighing and measuring and The Zone are perceived as one and the same. But Barry Sears didn't invent weighing and measuring. He invented the block method, which is our favorite thing about the Zone: it makes it a whole lot easier to weigh and measure our food. Blocks are easier than grams, particularly for those of us who are not so mathematically inclined (i.e., Jacob.)

We're big fans of Paleo eating. Quality is important. We see Paleo as the nutritional equivalent of the deadlift, squat, clean & jerk, running, pullup, etc...high quality movements that you need to be performing. But you want to know how much weight is on the bar, how long it took you to run 400m, or how many pullups you did, right?

Nutrition is no different. In order to achieve optimal output, we've got to measure the input, and then adjust accordingly.

Should you weigh and measure every meal every day forever? In a perfect world, yes. But it most likely won't happen, and that's fine. People are too busy, and except for the occasional super Type-A individual, the benefit of having every meal perfectly weighed and measured is not equal to the cost. The suggestion I usually offer to my athletes is this: When starting, weigh and measure for one month. After that, weigh and measure one or two meals each day to keep your "calibration." This allows you to weigh and measure the meals you eat when you're at home and have time to be precise without stressing out.

Once you're used to weighing and measuring, it's time to tweak. Play with lower carbs/higher fat, post WOD nutrition strategies, etc. Record the results, and with time, you'll find your optimal ratio.

If you can't seem to get it just right, don't fear. There are professionals who can do it for you at a pretty reasonable price. I'm doing this now, with Steve from Primitive Foods (who I stole this posts picture from, by the way.)

Post thoughts to comments. If you have recommendations for other meal planning services you've had a positive experience with, post those to comments as well.


Crossfit Tribe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve's Club said...

Wow, some people are so pathetic and money hungry. This guy ordered from us several times in the past before deciding to steal our concept and call them "PaleoPaks"(which is oddly similar to Paleokits). Now he is selling them under a different name. Nice.

Steve, hope you feel good trying to steal Paleokit customers that go to fund a 501c3 non-profit youth athletic fitness club.

Jake said...

Well crap. Russ and I started a discussion on FB on this subject and after reading the full article I agree with every dam thing in it.
Anywho this is what I've said over at FB any input would be appreciated.

What if you don't care to speak of macronutrient ratios? My personal experience is Nutrition follows the Pareto Principle. Paleo is 20% effort 80% results. W&M is 80% effort 20% results. For the majority of people W&M just isn't worth the effort. If you eat clean you will find homeostasis naturally.
Yesterday at 8:30pm ·

Russ Greene Jake, if we were designing CrossFit for the majority of people, we certainly would never program Elizabeth.
4 hours ago

Jake Parent Was your reply meaningful discussion or a non-sequitur. Olympic athletes..grandma's.. difference in scale not kind. Crossfit is not for the majority it is for everyone.
Is our only goal to 'meaningfully speak'. or create results from a black box and let someone else explain why it worked later?
I wouldn't and don't dismiss weighing and measuring. If someone has monitored/journaled their nutrition and it's clean then W&M is the next step.
I've had better results/compliance for myself and my clients with food quality monitoring rather than W&M. But I do have two clients that are about to be 'encouraged' to weigh and measure b/c there results aren't where they need to be. One is still scared of fat consumption and the other thinks she is Dionysus.
Would you care to refute the Pareto Principle I've applied to nutrition. As a thought it is underdeveloped and I would appreciate an alternative view

Stev Rakow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tsypkin said...

Steve L,

You came up with a good product. A great product. It was inevitable that someone would imitate. Steve P's market is much, much, MUCH smaller than yours (I only know about his website because I knew him before) and to the best of my knowledge he has never made any attempts to steal any of your customers, nor do I think he is the kind of person to do something like that. He works a full time job and runs on the side because he loves to do it. He's certainly not pathetic or money hungry.

Steve's Club is an outstanding, beautiful thing. I hope it continues to grow.

Tsypkin said...


The Pareto principle may be correct when applied to the idea of weighing & measuring every meal forever. But that was addressed in the post: I don't recommend that most people weigh everything all the time.

In my experience, however, 1 month of weighing and measuring to find someone's "sweet spot" so to speak, and then regularly but not constantly weighing and measuring to stay "calibrated," will yield far greater returns than only eating clean.

I disagree with the idea that people will naturally find their optimum intake. I, and most guys I train, would eat waaaaay too much protein and fat. Many of the girls would eat far too little protein. By ingraining the idea of proper measurement, we can ensure far closer-to-optimum intake levels without weighing and measuring every meal.

Rich Vos said...

I've been CrossFitting for 2 years and for about 8 months, I weighed and measured everything! Tinkered with the 3x fat, 5x fat, and counted my almonds like a good little boy. I was eating about every 3 hours and spent quite a bit of time preparing food. It was a pretty decent diet, but I was still bringing in cheese, milk, and a little bit of starch.

After attending Robb Wolf's cert (pre-drama), I decided to go straight Paleo for 36 days with no cheats, no weighing, no measuring.

Not only did I feel liberated by the ability to eat as much as I wanted, I found portion sizes that better suited me and (most importantly) I was less hungry and more sane. This isn't even mentioning the weird PR's that came with it.

I don't think comparing zone portions with the amount you load up on the barbell is appropriate. Though, to be honest, I can't think of a better one ... not that there needs to be an analogy in this situation.

When suggesting a diet, I always push Paleo for two reasons:
1. The person probably doesn't have the time or patience for a program based on weighing and measuring.
2. You're not going to Zone your way out of auto-immune disease.

For elite athletes, the Zone may be better. Though, I think the jury is still out on that. People I've put through a Paleo challenge, my own numbers, as well as top-tier athletes like Jolie Gentry are more fit because of Paleo.

Verdict in Zone v. Paleo? Paleo. And get your meat in at every meal.

PLUG: How about a shameless plug!? I just started up a nutrition counseling service (Results Typical) for athletes of all levels. If you have any athletes (or their sofa-sittin moms) that want to make some better progress, send'em my way. Hmm... what diet do you think I prescribe?

Tsypkin said...


You're ignoring the part of the post where I repeatedly state "not necessarily the Zone." We're not saying 30/30/40, we're saying there is value in precision. I'm willing to bet that if you hadn't weighed and measured before switching to an entirely "unmeasured" Paleo you wouldn't be doing nearly as well as you are now. I'm also willing to bet that if we weighed and measured your intake (as in, weighed and measured whatever it is you are eating now) and played with it, we could get superior results.

No one is arguing against eating Paleo quality food - also stated in the original post.

Terrance said...

It's funny to hear people argue this point when by law 99.5% of CrossFit trainers are not allowed to prescribe a diet.. We are only allowed to RECOMMEND a diet to a client??? Just tread gently fellas there are some Marines CF trainers that are going before the man for putting Marines on diets and MCCS(the people who run our fitness centers) took action.. It's a great debate but just be careful what you post and how you post it about diets...

Tsypkin said...


Thanks for the warning. I'm pretty sure nothing in this post can be taken as a prescription, since all we say is that we value weighing and measuring. Nonetheless, "tread gently" is always good advice.

Jeff said...

So those prepackaged meals are good? I'm thinking about picking some up, so let me know if you think it will be healthy and tasty

Tsypkin said...


I've had them - they're excellent. Far and away the best jerky I've ever tasted.

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