Hey CrossFit friends! Here is a breakdown of the different common diet protocols. It’s important that we preface that this is educational and just because it is listed below doesn’t mean we endorse the program. We’ve included links for more information so you can further educate yourself on what diet protocol best fits your lifestyle and goals. Enjoy!


IIFYM is an acronym for If It Fits Your Macros and has become one of the fastest growing dieting trends. IIFYM is sometimes called Flexible Dieting.

Why is IIFYM so popular?

Because it revolves around the concept that dieters can eat ANYTHING as long as it fits their prescribed set of macros. This is refreshing for many who are coming from most other dieting trends that are very restrictive.

  • There are no forbidden or “bad” foods.
  • People feel they can eat “normally” again.
  • It’s much easier to stick with during social events.
  • People can generally eat more and eat the foods they love while still reaching their weight loss or muscle building goals.

This information is provided courtesy of the Healthy Eater website, click here to read the rest of their IIFYM quick start quide.


The Paleo Diet

The paleo diet is a focus on eating natural, real food that is widely available with little or no processing. In other words, the paleo diet focuses on eating the way nature intended us to eat.

Our current diet is relatively recent, as we’ve only been eating this way for about 10,000 years. In contrast, most estimates say that humans have been around for a little over two million years. Now that’s a long time. The paleo diet focuses on eating food the way we ate before the last 10,000 years.

Nowadays, the Standard American Diet (SAD), featuring sugarrefined sugar, and even more sugar, is simply ruining the health of almost anyone who tries to eat according to the food pyramid.

Clearly something is not working. The paleo diet seeks to fix that.

  • You’ll eat meat, nuts, eggs, seafood, seeds, a little fruit and some natural unprocessed oils.
  • Paleo eliminates grains and processed foods like bread, cereals and most fast foods.
  • Higher fat and protein diet with lower carbohydrates
  • Switches your body to burning fats for fuel instead of relaying on carbohydrates to maintain energy levels.

Most of the above excerpt is found on Ultimate Paleo Guide 101, check out the full read here.


The Whole 30 Diet

The objective: Eat real food.

Eat moderate portions of meat, seafood, and eggs; lots of vegetables; some fruit; plenty of natural fats; and herbs, spices, and seasonings. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re whole and unprocessed.

The ethos: Avoid for 30 days…

  • Do not consume added sugar, real or artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, date syrup, stevia, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, etc. Read your labels, because companies sneak sugar into products in ways you might not recognize.
  • Do not consume alcohol, in any form, not even for cooking.(And ideally, no tobacco products of any sort, either.)
  • Do not eat grains. This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, sprouted grains, and all gluten-free pseudo-cereals like quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat. This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn, and rice into our foods in the form of bran, germ, starch, and so on. Again, read your labels.
  • Do not eat legumes. This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).
  • Do not eat dairy. This includes cow, goat, or sheep’s milk products like milk, cream, cheese, kefir, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, or frozen yogurt.
  • Do not consume carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites. If these ingredients appear in any form on the label of your processed food or beverage, it’s out for the Whole30.
  • Do not consume baked goods, junk foods, or treats with “approved” ingredients. Recreating or buying sweets, treats, and foods-with-no-brakes (even if the ingredients are technically compliant) is totally missing the point of the Whole30, and will compromise your life-changing results. These are the same foods that got you into health-trouble in the first place—and a pancake is still a pancake, even if it’s made with coconut flour.

One last and final rule:

  • Do not step on the scale or take any body measurements for 30 days.

For more information on  the Whole 30 Diet, visit the official whole 30 website here.


Calorie Restriction

A Calorie Restriction diet is a diet where you lower your total calorie intake to a fixed percentage (usually between 30-60% of your maintenance level of calories without restricting nutrient intake or being in a state of malnutrition. There are minimum calorie requirements as well, as the diet is not meant to be a starvation diet. This type of diet is meant to be a short term solution for the training athlete, this type of eating is not recommended as an ongoing lifestyle choice as calorie intake is important to the training, recovering athlete.

  • Studies show that there is a decreased risk of heart disease and promotes healthy cellular function
  • Encourages weight loss
  • Promotes cardiovascular and metabolic health


Ketogenic Diet

A keto diet is well known for being a low carb diet, where the body produces ketones in the liver to be used as energy. It’s referred to as many different names – ketogenic diet, low carb diet, low carb high fat (LCHF), etc.

When you eat something high in carbs, your body will produce glucose and insulin.

  • Glucose is the easiest molecule for your body to convert and use as energy so that it will be chosen over any other energy source.
  • Insulin is produced to process the glucose in your bloodstream by taking it around the body.

Since the glucose is being used as a primary energy, your fats are not needed and are therefore stored. Typically on a normal, higher carbohydrate diet, the body will use glucose as the main form of energy. By lowering the intake of carbs, the body is induced into a state known as ketosis.

Ketosis is a natural process the body initiates to help us survive when food intake is low. During this state, we produce ketones, which are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver.

The end goal of a properly maintained keto diet is to force your body into this metabolic state. We don’t do this through starvation of calories but starvation of carbohydrates.

Our bodies are incredibly adaptive to what you put into it – when you overload it with fats and take away carbohydrates, it will begin to burn ketones as the primary energy source. Optimal ketone levels offer many health, weight loss, physical and mental performance benefits.



Also known as “juice diet”, “juice cleanse” or “juice detox” are all ways to nourish and detoxify the body by drinking (or eating in the case of juice feasting) plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. The key is to HYDRATE and nourish your cells with the correct vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants that you don’t get from cooked foods.

A person doing a juice FAST consumes only fluids like fresh fruit and vegetable juices, up to three times a day in place of their solid food meals, i.e. breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The amount of juices drunk a day is 1-2 liters/quarts a day. In between “meals”, you a juice faster may also drink vegetable soups, herbal teas, and plenty of drinking water (just pure fluids). With this kind of fast, healing reactions may happen earlier in your fast and possibly more severe. During juice fast, you eliminate all other harmful foods from your diet: Flour and sugar products, processed and deep-fried foods, dairy and meat products, soda, alcohol and caffeine.

For more, check out Juice for Health’s complete guide to juice fasting and feasting

CrossFit’s Diet Prescription

CrossFit nutrition prescription is simple and resides in one sentence–“Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar”– it is believed this will deliver you from metabolic derangement (i.e., hyperinsulinemia, Syndrome X, and their relatives) and keep you generally well. CrossFit HQ has also promoted the Zone diet in it’s Level 1 course (see below).


The Zone Diet

The Zone diet is a low carbohydrate fad diet devised by biochemist Barry Sears. It specifies the consumption of calories from carbohydrates and protein in a specified ratio, recommending eating five times a day to create a sense of satiety that discourages overeating.[wikipedia]

The Zone Diet is measured in “blocks”. One Zone Block of protein contains 7 grams of protein, one Zone Block of carbohydrate contains 9 grams of insulin-stimulating carbohydrates (total carbohydrates minus fiber) and one Zone Block of fat contains 1.5 grams.

Zone uses this tool to assemble meals and snacks that fit your lifestyle:

  1. Find out how many Zone Blocks you’re allowed to consume in a day. For most women it will be about 11, and for most men it will be about 14. Your activity level influences your Zone-Block daily allowance. Use the Body Fat Calculator to determine the exact amount of food blocks you can consume based on your activity level.
  2. Search for foods within the Zone Food Block Guide to assemble meals and snacks that align with your food block allocations.

According to the Zone Diet website, benefits of being in the Zone include:

  • Losing excess body fat at the fastest possible rate
  • Maintaining wellness for a longer period of time
  • Performing better
  • Thinking faster
  • Slowing down the rate of aging

Visit The Zone Diet website for more information on The Zone Diet

featured image Copyright: rangizzz / 123RF Stock Photo


Carb Back-Loading (CBL)

CBL basically revolves around taking advantage of the supposed fluctuations in insulin sensitivity (IS) within the muscle and fat tissue throughout the day, as well as the non-insulin mediated uptake of glucose within the exercised muscles.

For example, insulin sensitivity in both muscle and fat tissue is generally higher in the morning relative to the evening [1]. As such, it has suggested that eating carbs in the morning/earlier in the day (when overall IS may be higher) relative to the evening, will result in greater glucose uptake by the muscle (a good thing), but also in the fat tissue (a potentially bad thing).

Therefore, it is is suggested that a way to get around this problem would be to train in the evenings as well as consuming almost all of your daily carbohydrate post-workout (PWO), whilst eating as little carbs as possible throughout the day. That way, you would supposedly take advantage of the reduced IS in fat tissue in the evenings, but also have the benefits of increased insulin sensitivity (more specifically, non-insulin mediated uptake of glucose) in the muscles PWO due to the evening training.

The following points briefly summarise how CBL works:

  1. Shift calories to later in the day, eating lighter in the morning and early afternoon, and feast at night. This may include skipping breakfast.
  2. Keep carbs at an absolute minimum throughout the day until training.
  3. Train in the afternoon, at around 5pm or so.
  4. Start ingesting carbs after your training session, up to 30 minutes later.
  5. Continue eating carbs throughout the night.

Courtesy of Science Driven Nutrition, read the complete article here