The Winner? Both.

The approach we take to nutrition is a nice blend of two different philosophies; drawing on principles from the Zone Diet, popularized and created by Dr. Barry Sears in 1994, and the Paleo diet. We use the Paleo diet (with some exceptions) to decide what to eat and what not to eat, and the Zone diet to tell you how much to eat and when to eat it.

In this introduction to Shadow's nutrition program, we will cover some of the basic science supporting the use of the methods, and give you instructions on how to apply them yourself.

Zone versus Paleo diet - which diet is better?


Food Pyramid - Shadow CrossFit Quincy Illinois

Thankfully, we will be doing most of the work for you and providing you with useful charts that tell you what you can or cannot eat. We recommend eating meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no (refined) sugar.  You can't get much easier than that right? However, you wouldn’t believe how difficult some people make this.  If what you're eating doesn't fall under that list, stop eating it! As we learn more about the Zone Diet, you will need to learn how to differentiate between the three macronutrient categories. Protein (think meat), Carbohydrates (vegetables and fruit), and Fat (nuts/seeds, oils, olives, avocados, butter). The protein we consume should generally come from animal sources. Our carbohydrates need to be predominantly low glycemic (explained below). When it comes to fats we should strive for monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and Omega-3 fatty acid varieties. At the end of this article we will provide charts that tell you how to portion all of this food the right way.



Carbohydrates are sugars, plain and simple. This doesn't mean we don't want you to eat sugar, we just don’t want you to eat refined sugar. You know, that delicious white stuff you like to put in your coffee! We also want to avoid eating artificial sugars like corn syrup; if you see this on your food label, keep walking. You see, now all carbs are equal. There is this wonderfully fancy thing known as the glycemic index (clink the link to learn more); it measures how carbs raise our blood sugar levels. Lower glycemic carbs (55 or less) will not spike your blood sugar like high glycemic carbs will (70 or more). This spike generally isn't a good thing, and can lead to things like inflammation. Eating to many can lead to things like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. There is a common misconception that eating dietary fat is what makes people overweight. With all food however, if you consume to much of it you’ll gain weight! The real leader in obesity are the tasty sweets made of refined high glycemic carbs. Keep in mind that most fruits and vegetables are always a safe bet. 

As an athlete, we don't suggest cutting out carbs from your diet either. Carbohydrates are an important factor in restoring the glycogen in our muscles (fuel), and even powering our brain so that it functions properly! 


Contact Shadow CrossFit in Quincy Illinois for custom nutrition programming

You see, the Zone Diet is simple and easy to follow. It goes by blocks as a unit of measure to define how much we can eat. Each respective block consists of; 7 grams of protein, 9 grams of carbohydrates, and 1.5 grams of fat. Women will generally be in the 3-4 block meal range, with 1 or 2 block snacks twice a day. Most men will consume 4-5 block meals with 2 or 3 block snacks. An example of what a 4 block meal looks like would be 4oz of chicken as your protein source,  2 apples (1/2 an apple is 1 block) for your carbohydrate source and 12 whole almonds for your fats.  Athlete tip: make sure you're getting enough fats! If you find that you're lacking energy in the gym, or not seeing those "gains" some of us have come to love, then chances are you're not eating enough! This idea also works in the opposite way; if you see the scale continuing to climb up when you're trying to lose weight, then it's time to lower your food intake!

Contact us today for custom nutritional programming! We have fancy charts you can use, because who doesn't love fancy charts?



In order to accurately estimate the amount of blocks you will eat in a day, you need to know your lean body mass. Lean body mass - or LBM - is the weight of our muscles, bones, tendons, and organs. Each of these contribute to your total lean body mass. If you're interested in figuring out your lean body mass, go here to learn more.

Be honest when measuring your lean body mass! You are setting yourself up for disappointing results by lying about your body mass. Knowing your LBM is important! We don’t want to be over eating or under eating. Both have seriously negative effects on our wellbeing. A good goal is to gain or lose 1-2 pounds per week.

Plug in your LBM in pounds below, where N is your activity coefficient (we know some math people that will love this):

Baseline # of Blocks = (LBM) * N/7
N = .7 (For an athlete who is active and does ~5 WODs per week)
N = .8 (For an athlete who is more active with 5+ WODs + Strength work per week)
N = .9 (For an athlete who is extremely active doing multiple WODs per day)



Once you have your daily block requirements, you can go about structuring your meals. A 17 block male would ideally eat a 5 block breakfast, 5 block lunch, 5 block dinner, a 1 block snack during the day and a 1 block snack prior to sleeping. You want to structure your meals so that you eat every 4 hours. Try not to go longer than 4 hours between meals. GO BUY A SMALL SCALE AND SOME MEASURING CUPS. If anyone ever told you that you don’t need to measure your food, reach back in time and slap them across the face. This is just something you’ll have to do, especially initially, to make sure your food intake is accurate. Once you have been eating in the Zone for a month or two, you’ll be able to eyeball most foods and make an accurate decision, but we recommend continuing measuring just to keep yourself honest. Another thing that will help is keeping things simple. It’s fun occasionally to whip up some magnificent Zone/Paleo recipes but doing complicated things constantly is draining. Try to stick to basic meals about 80% of your week just to keep it easy for you.



DO: Eat protein from animal sources as well as  primarily low glycemic carbs and monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and Omega-3 fatty acids.

DON’T: Eat refined carbohydrate, white flour, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, added sugar, trans fats, etc etc. DO NOT drink alcohol or use tobacco. Drinking alcohol can ruin what you're trying to accomplish. The whole "glass of wine a day thing" is just an excuse. If you insist on drinking, try and keep in to a cheat day.

CHEAT DAYS are important! Once a week, feel free to let loose within reason. It’s okay to enjoy those bad foods once in a while so long as you stuck to your diet the rest of the week. By within reason we mean trying to stay within portion sizes you'd eat on a normal day, but with the foods you've been craving. 

Think of your cheat day as a way to make up any deficit in calories from an intense week of training. Just because you had a cheat day, doesn't mean you should change your blocks around on other days. Stick to the plan! However, if cheating stresses you out to much, simply don't cheat and keep staying strong! 


let's go!

You now have all the basics you need to know nutritionally to be really freaking healthy.

Feel free to contact us with any and all questions. Try the Zone Diet for 6 weeks. Take a picture of yourself on day one, be strict for 6 weeks and then retake your photo at the end for comparison. If you stayed true to the plan, you WILL see results. There will be leaner muscle where there wasn't before, and less jiggle in the areas we don't want jiggling!