Talking nutrition with Tim Pedersen: Insights from my 6 Week +1 CrossFit Challenge

By Gene Galin

Pittsboro, NC – On the eleventh day of my 6 Week +1 CrossFit Challenge, I sat down with CrossFit 15-501 owner Tim Pedersen to discuss the role nutrition plays in successfully completing the challenge. Tim delves into the critical role of nutrition, specifically focusing on macronutrient intake and debunking common dietary myths. From the misconceptions surrounding calorie counting to the benefits of a ketogenic diet, Pedersen provides some insights aimed at optimizing health and performance.

Understanding Macronutrients: The Foundation of Nutrition

Tim Pedersen, a seasoned CrossFit trainer, emphasizes the importance of macronutrients—proteins, fats, and carbohydrates—in fueling our bodies effectively. “When people hear about macronutrients, they often think of calorie counting. But it’s not just about calories; it’s about where those calories come from and how they impact your body,” Pedersen explains.

Proteins: The Building Blocks

Proteins are crucial for muscle repair and growth, making them essential for anyone engaged in intense physical activities like CrossFit. Pedersen suggests a high protein intake, particularly for those looking to build muscle mass. “Aim for at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. This ensures your muscles get the necessary nutrients for recovery and growth,” he advises.

Fats: The Misunderstood Nutrient

Pedersen addresses the common fear of dietary fats, especially in a society that has long vilified them. “People freak out when they hear 70% of their diet should come from fats, especially those who’ve followed low-fat diets like Weight Watchers,” he notes. However, he clarifies that not all fats are created equal. Healthy fats from sources like avocados, nuts, and olive oil are beneficial and necessary for various bodily functions.

Carbohydrates: The Double-Edged Sword

While carbohydrates are often considered the body’s primary energy source, Pedersen advocates for a reduced carb intake, particularly refined carbs and sugars. “Our modern diet is overloaded with carbs, leading to insulin spikes and inflammation. Reducing carb intake helps in shifting the body’s fuel source from glucose to fats, which is more efficient and less inflammatory,” he asserts.

Debunking Dietary Myths: Calorie Counting vs. Nutrient Quality

Pedersen challenges the long-held belief that calorie counting is the key to weight management. “It’s a common misnomer. While calorie intake matters, the source of those calories is far more important,” he argues. He points out that a diet high in refined carbs and sugars, even if calorie-controlled, can lead to health issues such as insulin resistance and inflammation.

The Ketogenic Approach

A significant part of Pedersen’s nutritional strategy during the challenge involves a ketogenic diet, which is low in carbs and high in fats. “For six weeks, we focus on lowering carb intake to shift the body’s fuel source to fats. This transition can lead to improved energy levels, mental clarity, and fat loss,” he explains.

The Impact of Food Quality: Whole Foods vs. Processed Foods

A recurring theme in Pedersen’s nutritional philosophy is the emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods. “The longer the shelf life, the shorter your life,” he quips, highlighting the dangers of highly processed foods loaded with preservatives and artificial ingredients.

Understanding Inflammation

Pedersen explains inflammation as the body’s response to harmful substances, including certain foods. “When you eat something your body perceives as a poison, it sends blood to the digestive tract, causing inflammation. Chronic inflammation is linked to numerous health issues, including autoimmune diseases,” he warns.

The Dangers of Ultra-Processed Foods

Using the example of McDonald’s French fries, which contain 22 ingredients including genetically modified potatoes and various chemicals, Pedersen illustrates the perils of consuming ultra-processed foods. “Our bodies don’t know how to process these chemicals, leading to inflammation and other health problems,” he states.

Practical Tips for a Healthier Diet

Reading Labels and Understanding Ingredients

Pedersen advises participants to become label-savvy. “If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it. Stick to foods with ingredients you recognize and understand,” he recommends. This simple rule helps avoid hidden sugars and unhealthy fats often found in processed foods.

Choosing the Right Oils

Not all oils are created equal. Pedersen suggests avoiding canola oil and other highly processed oils. “Opt for natural oils like avocado oil or olive oil. They’re less processed and better for your health,” he advises.

Incorporating Healthy Fats

For those new to a high-fat diet, Pedersen offers practical tips. “Incorporate healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and fatty fish. Don’t be afraid of full-fat dairy; it’s more nutritious and less processed than its low-fat counterparts,” he notes.

Balancing Macronutrients

Pedersen emphasizes the importance of balance. “While fats should make up 70% of your diet on keto, it’s still essential to get enough protein and keep carbs low. Use apps to track your macronutrient intake and ensure you’re hitting the right ratios,” he advises.

A reminder. Tim Pedersen and Gene Galin are NOT medical doctors and they never played doctors on TV. This is just a conversation they had after a workout.

Watch video on YouTube – Talking micronutrients with Tim Pedersen during the 6 Week +1 CrossFit Challenge – 6.21.23

“Optimizing Nutrition on a Keto Diet for the 6 Week +1 CrossFit Challenge with Tim Pedersen”

00:14 Importance of lowering carb intake for better health

  • Discussion on transitioning to a low carb keto diet for 6 weeks to switch fuel source to fat
  • Clarification on the misconception around cholesterol and its correlation with heart disease

02:16 Importance of consuming fat in keto diet

  • Focus on getting 70% of calories from fat in keto diet
  • Avoid low-fat products as they often contain added sugar for taste enhancement

04:05 Impact of consuming chemical-laden processed foods

  • Chemicals in processed foods can cause inflammation in the body, leading to health issues.
  • Inflammation is the body’s response to healing but can be harmful when caused by processed food chemicals.

05:45 Inflammation and insulin spikes affect fat burning

  • Inflammation in the digestive tract from inflammatory food causes bloating and discomfort
  • Insulin spikes from eating constantly prevent fat burning and contribute to obesity

07:30 Controlling insulin is crucial for diabetes prevention.

  • High sugar levels lead to insulin resistance and diabetes.
  • Monitoring and controlling insulin levels is important for overall health.

09:19 Importance of checking insulin levels for insulin resistance

  • Insulin test is an essential, often overlooked, $25 test that can signal insulin resistance
  • Diet focus on 70% fat, 20% protein, and minimal carbs to manage calorie intake

11:04 Carbs are not essential nutrients and our body can regulate its intake

  • Macronutrient balance is important, focus on macros over calories for weight loss
  • Consider fasting and meal timing if weight loss stalls despite correct macronutrient intake

12:47 Importance of mindful food choices

  • Eggs and homemade tomato sauce are part of the regular diet, emphasizing the value of fresh, natural ingredients.
  • Discussion on understanding net carbs and the potential impact of added fiber on processed foods.

14:24 Be cautious of ultra-processed foods labeled as healthy.

  • Natural, unprocessed foods like spinach and broccoli are a better choice.
  • Keto is a way of living, not just a fad diet, originally created for epilepsy.

16:12 Avoid canola oil due to inflammatory processing

  • Canola oil is highly processed and goes through harmful procedures like chlorine bleaching, hexane treatment, and steaming.
  • Consider healthier alternatives like avocado oil, which is minimally processed and free from toxic byproducts.