Category Archives for "Mash Potatoes Nutrition"

Should I Take Supplements? by Crystal McCullough, RN, MSN

Check out The “Eat What You Want” E-Book to understand nutrition better. With a built-in Macro Calculator, you will have all the tools necessary to getting your nutrition in check.

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Should I Take Supplements?
By Crystal McCullough, RN, MSN
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This is a question I get asked a lot from my athletes both on-site and online. The simple answer is ‘it depends’. That’s really not a simple answer, I know. One rule of thought should always be FOOD FIRST. If you are not getting an adequate amount of something from food, then supplementation may be an option. Don’t look at supplements as a way to replace food, but rather as in addition to.

First and foremost, it is important to understand some basic principles of nutrition: macronutrients and micronutrients.

As you may know, we at Mash Elite have a nutrition program we call Eat What You Want and it is based on macronutrients (macros). Yes, our program is called Eat What You Want, however, our philosophy is nutritious, whole foods a very large majority of the time, but being able to sneak in an indulgence now and again. This allows for sustainability and no shaming of yourself when you enjoy a treat.

The three macronutrients are protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

• Protein has many roles in the body. When it comes to muscle, it is needed for muscle repair and growth. The amount a person needs is usually around 0.7-0.8g/day per pound of body weight. Good sources of protein would be meats, eggs, and legumes.

• Fat is not the enemy at all. On the contrary, essential fats play a huge role in cell function. Dietary fat is the main fuel source during low intensity training. On top of this, you have Omega-6 and Omega-3, where both are needed in a good balance. Omega-3 is actually an anti-inflammatory!! Good sources of dietary fats would be avocado, nuts, seeds, and oils such as coconut oil and olive oil.

• Carbohydrates or carbs are not the enemy either! Carbs are the main energy source during high intensity training. Good sources of carbs would be sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa, fruits, and green leafy vegetables.

Protein is normally a constant based on body weight while fats and carbs can be manipulated based on which fuel source an individual reacts better to. The key is not to any one macronutrient out. Your body needs all three.

What people sometimes fail to remember are micronutrients. Micro means we need them in small amounts, but if we are deficient, the body is hugely affected. Examples of micronutrients are iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamins B6 and B12, vitamin C, biotin, riboflavin, etc. The best source of micronutrients is whole or real food! I’m sure you can guess that iron would come from red meat, beans, and dark green leafy vegetables. Calcium would come from dairy and vegetables. Vitamins and minerals are found in your green leafy vegetables.

If you are eating a well-rounded, wide variety, nutrient dense diet, you can get everything you need from simply eating food. Where supplements would come in is if someone were deficient in a micronutrient and needs to take a supplement. One instance would be with vitamin B12. For someone with a medical condition called pernicious anemia, their body does not absorb B12 very well and they have to get injections of B12 regularly. This is just one example.

That was just a quick lesson in some basics of nutrition without too much science behind it.

Now, you need to understand what your goals are and where you are health wise. Are you an athlete? Are you a weekend warrior? Do you simply train to look good naked in the mirror? Do you have a chronic disease? Depending on your goals, you may or may not need supplementation.

As an athlete, there may be supplements that someone with a chronic illness may not be able to take or vice versa where someone with a chronic illness needs to take a supplement while an athlete doesn’t need it. That is where the ‘it depends’ comes in.

For all intents and purposes, this article is focused on what a healthy individual, more so an athlete could be taking and what I might recommend to them.

Supplements I might recommend:

Fish Oil – I would actually recommend this to anyone. This is the only supplement I would do that with. You have the Omega-3’s: DHA and EPA, which are essential fats. It can be found rather inexpensively in your health food or even grocery store. You have both liquid and gel cap form. As I said before, it is found to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Creatine – it is actually a substance that occurs naturally in meat. Storage of creatine occurs in the muscle. It helps with short intensity forms of exercise. An example would be a 1-3 rep max on a lift. The idea behind creatine is you will see an increase in performance in these smaller rep ranges of high intensity lifting and over time, strength will increase. Creatine is relatively inexpensive and you can find good quality fairly easily. The most recommended form is creatine monohydrate and dosage is 5g per day. You can take it pre- or post-workout. I put it in my coffee in the morning and I’m done for the day.

Beta Alanine – it combines with another substance in the body to form something called carnosine and is stored in the muscle. This supplement is best used when doing lactate work. The down side to beta alanine is that it causes an itchy sensation and a lot of people don’t like that feeling. The recommended dose is 3.2-6.4g/day, but it can be reduced to as little as 0.75g if the itchiness is bothersome. It is found in a lot of pre-workouts. However, research has found that it is best taken during or post-workout so the muscles are primed to absorb the beta alanine since it is stored there.

Powdered Protein – there is a window of opportunity post-workout for optimal absorption. You should take in a 1:2 ratio of protein to carb. So, you would take in 25g of protein and 50g of carb as an example post workout. Many people can’t stomach a real meal post workout. The alternative would be a 1:2 ratio of a protein powder with a carb source. Personally, I prefer Whey protein, which research shows as higher quality than other types, but soy is an alternative for anyone with sensitivity to whey.

BCAAS (branched chain amino acids) – amino acids are the building blocks of protein, so they are good for muscle repair and growth. Research has shown they have a positive effect on lactate and endurance training. When taken post workout, it has been concluded in some studies to help with muscle soreness and fatigue.

If you look at the list above, three of the supplements are commonly found in pre-workouts…….my personal go to pre-workout is caffeine, i.e. COFFEE!!

I am not advocating for any one brand over the other. Maybe except for BiPro Protein because it tastes delicious, is tested and USADA approved, and they support the Mash Mafia Strength Team!

The question now is do you ‘need’ any of these? The quick answer is again ‘it depends’. As athletes, we are going to have inflammation. It is much safer and more beneficial to take fish oil than it is to take an NSAID daily. This is the one supplement I DO recommend to athletes. For the rest of the supplement list, if you are willing to spend the money, you might see some benefits to using any or all of these supplements. For anyone that feels they may have a deficiency, consult a physician and get blood work before taking any micronutrient supplementation.

About the Writer:

Crystal McCullough BIO

40-year old Army wife and Mom to a genetic 13-year-old freak. Basketball player turned runner turned CrossFitter turned powerlifter. Crystal has podiumed over the years at 5k and 10k road races, local CrossFit competitions, and most recently competed at the Arnold 2016 XPC Powerlifting Finals as well as USAPL Raw Nationals 2016 in the Open division. Her best lifts are 145k squat, 81k bench, and 162k deadlift. She is an RN with a Masters degree in Nursing Education, a CrossFit affiliate owner, and a Mash Elite Performance nutrition coach (among other stuff). She is a member of the Mash Mafia Powerlifting team and is currently studying for her CSCS as she prepares to move to Winston Salem with her family in May to join the Mash Mafia crew on a full-time basis.

Check out one of the Eat What You Want Online Teams:

Eat What You Want (Everything Needed to Perfect Your Nutrition)
Eat and Lift What You Want (Get Your Nutrition and Your Workout Perfected)

Check them out here: ⇒ ‘Team Eat and Lift What You Want’


Sweet Treats to fit any Nutrition Plan

Check out The “Eat What You Want” E-Book to understand nutrition better. With a built-in Macro Calculator, you will have all the tools necessary to getting your nutrition in check.

Check them out here: ⇒ “Eat What You Want”

Sweet Treats to fit any nutrition plan

I enjoy a sweet “treat” almost daily, but, like most of you I’m sure, I eat for fuel, performance, health, AND enjoyment. I do try to limit refined sugar, artificial coloring, and saturated fats which make up most of the convenient treats out there. So, in my never-ending search for foods that are good for the body and satisfying to the taste buds, I’ve been trying out a couple new recipes.

These two recipes are made with protein powder. Travis and I each usually have a protein smoothie per day, but sometimes that does get boring. I would eat either of these recipes in place of a smoothie for an afternoon boost, or after dinner treat. After several experiments with each recipe, I’ve listed below my favorites. Hope you enjoy!

Protein Yogurt Pops

I followed the recipe almost exactly from the BiPro Strawberry recipe book, then experimented with some other flavors on my own, using their protein powder with different flavors. Here’s the basic recipe for Strawberry Chocolate Chip. I encourage you to take this base recipe and create your favorite mixture!

1 cup of greek yogurt (I used nonfat vanilla, plain works too)

¼ cup strawberry protein

½ cup strawberries, frozen

1-2 Tbsp. of milk if needed

Sprinkle of chocolate chips – adjust this ingredient as needed to fit your macros or leave out altogether and add more diced strawberries

In a food processor, mix the yogurt, protein, strawberries, and additional liquid if needed. Pour into popsicle molds. Sprinkle chocolate chips into mold. Using a popsicle stick, stir in the chocolate chips. Freeze at least 4 hours or overnight.

Protein Cookie Dough Bites

This sweet treat literally takes 5 minutes from start to finish and can easily be adjusted to fit your macros. Try adding additional toppings or mix ins like coconut flakes, raisins, cinnamon, dried fruit, or anything else you like! This recipe makes 3-4 balls or 1 serving. I usually triple or quadruple the recipe when I make these because they don’t stay around!

1 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp nut butter at room temperature

1 scant scoop of protein powder, most any flavor will work (chocolate and strawberry flavors shown in picture)

Sprinkle of salt

Stir all ingredients together with a spoon until mixture holds together. Add any mix ins and roll into small balls. In the picture shown, I added the large chocolate morsels into the chocolate protein balls after I rolled them out.

These cookie dough bites can be stored on the counter if the nut butter can be, but I prefer them from the fridge.

For these (and other) recipes, I use BiPro protein powder. I have found that it is by far the best protein for cooking. It mixes seamlessly and does not have a strong protein flavor or texture.

For more meal ideas and recipes find me on Instagram @emilydrewmash

Check out one of the Eat What You Want Online Teams:

Eat What You Want (Everything Needed to Perfect Your Nutrition)
Eat and Lift What You Want (Get Your Nutrition and Your Workout Perfected)

Check them out here: ⇒ ‘Team Eat and Lift What You Want’

My Newest Obsession, Lentils by Emily Drew Mash

Guys “MashJacked” and “Train Stupid” drop Friday April 21st. Until then check out The “Eat What You Want” E-Book to understand nutrition better. With a built-in Macro Calculator, you will have all the tools necessary to getting your nutrition in check.

Check them out here: ⇒ “Eat What You Want”

My newest obsession

What, yes…lentils. They appear on practically ever “super food” “good for you food” “eat this now” list. So of course, I have bought them and kept them in a pretty glass mason jar with my other dried beans. And they just sat there…for a really long time. Good thing they don’t go bad.

I have been creating new recipes lately and trying to perfect our favorites for a recipe book that I’m working on!! The first Mash Recipe Book to go along with our awesome macro book: Eat What You Want. Because really, we all know, you can work out every day but without proper fuel for these workouts, you are missing a ton of benefits. Food is our fuel. So, I have a list of “super” foods that I am actively incorporating into our diet by way of these recipes. Seriously though, even if I wasn’t doing that, I was tired of looking at these lentils.

Lentils seem to be used most often to create a stew or soup. But, it’s 80 degrees outside today and lentil stew does not sound appetizing. So, I researched and read a lot of recipes…and concluded that I just needed to make something up. I did find a couple delicious sounding recipes for colder weather that I will keep around and try in the fall.

Lentils are very easy to cook. I did a few experiments with just basic cooking and I prefer them with a little “bite” left instead of the softer side. Basically, you just cover them with liquid and simmer for 20-30 minutes, depending on your “bite” preference. Seasoning the water first definitely helps. If you have chicken or vegetable stock on hand, this works even better. They do not require overnight soaking, but I am going to try them that way. Once they are cooked, the possibilities are endless. These will be a new staple for my meal prep. And I haven’t even mentioned about the awesome nutritional value. Lentils have 9 grams of protein per half cup cooked! Also for that serving size, they have 20 carbs with 8 fiber, and negligible fat.

For this week’s lentil recipe, I created lentil bowls, which are kind of like rice bowls, but made with lentils. Here is the recipe:

1 bunch of greens of your choice
1 cup of dry lentils
2 ½ cups of chicken stock
1 lb. turkey sausage
1 zucchini, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 onion chopped
Salt, pepper, Garlic, Thyme

Toppings: use what you like! I used crumbled goat cheese and cherry tomatoes.

1. Place 1 cup of dried (rinsed and drained) lentils in a pot with 2 cups of chicken stock, salt, pepper, and garlic. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Keep watching the lentils and add more chicken stock or water as needed.

2. While the lentils are cooking, brown the turkey sausage in a large pot. When cooked, put into another bowl to rest.

3. In the same pot sauté the onion adding salt, pepper, and garlic, and a little oo if necessary. Add a little water or chicken stock to deglaze the pan and incorporate all the sausage goodness from the bottom of the pot.

4. When onion is almost transparent, add in the diced pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes and then add the zucchini and thyme. Cook about 3 minutes, just until the zucchini sweats.

5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables into the same bowl with the sausage, leaving the liquid in the pot. If there is no or little liquid, add about ¼- ½ cup.

6. Place greens into pot and cover. Simmer for about 7 minutes, until just done but not too wilted.

To create a lentil bowl, layer all the ingredients:

Greens, lentils, sausage and veggies, cheese, tomatoes, YUM!

Lentils are even better the next day, so cook extra! They are perfect by themselves for a hearty side and great to sprinkle in your salad or pasta salad.

For more recipes check out my Instagram @emilydrewmash and if you need some direction for your macros, check out our ebook: Eat What You Want and keep an eye out for my recipe e-book coming soon!!

Check out one of the Eat What You Want Online Teams:

Eat What You Want (Everything Needed to Perfect Your Nutrition)
Eat and Lift What You Want (Get Your Nutrition and Your Workout Perfected)

Check them out here: ⇒ ‘Team Eat and Lift What You Want’

Preventing Snaccidents to Prevent Macro-Malfunctions by Jacky Bigger, MS

For more on Nutrition, check out our E-Book ==> Eat What You Want

or Join one of the growing Online Teams ==>Eat What You Want or Eat and Lift What You Want

Preventing Snaccidents and Protecting Those Macro-Malfunctions

by Jacky Bigger, MS

Snaccident (n) – Eating an entire pizza/ box of chocolates/ family sized bag of chips by mistake.

Go ahead and add that in Webster.

But for real, if you’re like me cutting weight on any type of diet plan or just trying to eat healthy in general, odds are that a snaccident or two have thrown you off. I know I have. Whether it is half a jar of peanut butter, 3 packs of pop tarts or even entire pint of Ben and Jerrys. Snaccidents happen and can potentially be a recipe for disaster and lead to a downward spiral of regret, guilt and continued over eating if not handled correctly.

Being a high-level athlete in a weight class sport, I constantly have to monitor my food intake and body weight. Because of this, I use to place way too many restrictions on myself and on my diet. It was unsustainable and eventually always ended in one snaccident, then another, then another. My weight would get out of control. My performance in the gym would suffer, and I would be completely stressed daily about my food and weight. From there I would return to all the restrictions that I had placed on myself previously. It turned into a continual cycle of too many restrictions followed by too many snaccidents. I’ve FINALLY, after lots of trial and error, gotten it under control. So I’d like to share with you some of the things I’ve learned to help prevent the evil snaccident in the 1st place.

Let’s start with how to prevent them in the 1st place. I’m sure many of you have heard the things I’m about to tell you before, but I’m going to tell you them again, because they work. Let’s start with grocery shopping.

1. Don’t buy trigger foods – For me, as mentioned above, these include Pop Tarts, peanut butter, ice cream or really just any yummy snack. I use to continue to buy them, each time telling myself “This time, I’ll have self-control!” “This time will be different.” This only led me to ending up hungry after a big day of squats eating all my Pop Tarts in one sitting. It’s best to just not buy them at all. To feed off of that we’ll go to #2.

2. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry. – I’ve heard this one over and over, and still always make that mistake. When you go to the store hungry, you are far more likely to buy those trigger foods that I talked about above. I suggest that you eat before going to the grocery store, write a list, and stick to it.

3. Separate your food into serving size portions/don’t buy in bulk – I’m only responsible for cooking and shopping for myself. I don’t have a family to feed, so there is really no reason for me to buy my foods in bulk. Having more food lying around the house makes me more likely to over eat. So, if your situation is similar to mine, it’s best to shop for a week at a time, rather than stocking up.

However, if you are cooking for a family, or really enjoy bargain shopping, you may have no choice but to buy your foods in bulk. If this is the case, when you get home from the store, take the time to separate your foods (especially any snack foods that you’ve bought) out into serving size portions. This helps prevent mindless eating, and makes you better aware of the amount of food you are consuming.

Now, what about those nightly cravings? You’ve survived the grocery store, and you managed to leave with only 1 to 2 healthy snacks. You’ve eaten dinner, but you’re still “hungry” and want to eat everything in the kitchen. Sound familiar? Here are some things that work for me.

1. The age-old trick, Drink a glass of water and brush your teeth. – This one’s simple. Chugging water fills the stomach, at least momentarily. Also, who wants to eat right after they’ve just brushed their teeth? Not me.

2. Drink a glass of wine, or have some tea – Odds are, you’re not just hungry, you’er just bored. Drinking wine (which I hate to recommend, but I’m going do because it works) keeps you busy, relaxes you a bit and takes your mind off of food. Tea has the same effect. I’m just not the biggest fan. Plus, one glass of wine a night, or every couple of nights is much better than eating the entire contents of your refrigerator.

3. Leave room in your macros- I myself, and most of us here at Mash are macros people. I’ve found from trial and error that I crave food and am the hungriest at night after training. This seems to be the case for most people in general. So, what works best for me is to eat smaller meals and less during the day, and same a good majority of my macros for a big dinner and a nighttime snack.

4. “Close” your Kitchen – This is one that I learned from my mother growing up. Seems as though I’ve always craved food at night even when I was younger. I would always tell my mom “I’m hungry, I need a snack.” She would reply with “Nope, the kitchen is closed.”

After dinner/dessert, do the dishes, wipe down the counters, tidy up the kitchen, and turn off the lights. “The Kitchen is Closed!” Plus, if you’re like me, you enjoy waking up in the morning to a clean kitchen and an empty sink. This is one way to make that happen.

And lastly Ladies, this one’s for you…

5. Know your cycle – After tracking and marking things down in a planner, I’ve found out that 2-3 days before I begin menstruation, I lose all self-control and eat everything in the ENTIRE house. I literally cannot control it, and I know I’m not alone. However, I at least know when to expect it and to plan for it. I allow myself to have the extra snack or two knowing the reasoning behind my cravings. Awareness helps.

These aren’t exactly fail proof plans and aren’t backed up by any research studies (that I’ve looked into), but they work for me. Using the suggestions listed above I’ve managed to keep them at a minimum, and can get right back on track if I do happen to over eat one night.

For more on Nutrition, check out our E-Book ==> Eat What You Want

or Join one of the growing Online Teams ==>Eat What You Want or Eat and Lift What You Want

Nutrition: Educate Yourself By: Crystal McCullough, RN, MSN, USAW

My latest E-Book “Mash Method” is live and it’s FREE! Check it out now at:
This book has several of the techniques that I used to set personal records and world records along with some of my latest techniques that I’m using to get my athletes and me hitting all-time numbers.
-wave training
-bands and chains contrasted with straight weight
-walk outs
-partials contrasted with full ROM
-Squats for vertical leap -Sled drags to set PR 40 yd dash times
And more!

Nutrition: Educate Yourself
By: Crystal McCullough, RN, MSN, USAW

Whether you are new to this whole fitness thing or you are an elite athlete in your sport, fueling properly is just as important as your physical training routine. Nutrition and training are two sides to the same coin. Now, the question is what are your goals?

Paleo. Zone. Ketogenic. Macros. These are all buzzwords we hear in today’s fitness circles, right? So, you ask, “What should I do? What is right for me?” There really isn’t a right or wrong answer. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with any of these diets. It truly depends on what works best for YOU. The goal with this article is to educate you on these popular diets that surround the fitness industry, provide you with my own experiences (yep, I’ve done them all), and let you decide! I’m not going to touch on cutting weight for a specific goal. This is day-to-day nutrition for any lifestyle.

Let’s dive in! And, to be clear, I am not knocking any of these diets, nor am I a Registered Dietician. My goal is to inform.

Paleo Diet

Robb Wolf, author of The Paleo Solution – The Original Human Diet (among other books), is credited with bringing this way of eating into the spotlight several years ago. There is plenty of research and science out there that support the Paleo Diet . Paleo is, by nature, derived from the Paleolithic, i.e. Caveman, Era. If you can kill it or grow it, you can eat it. This means no processed or hormone-enhanced foods. Food isn’t weighed out and you don’t count calories. For anyone who is starting in their fitness journey and is intimidated about weighing and measuring, this diet can do wonders just by cleaning up the foods consumed.

The Paleo Diet works really well in helping those with Celiac, inflammatory issues, autoimmunity, and diabetes successfully manage their disease. When used as intended, it is a very healthy way to eat! You are able to keep your fat moderate, protein high, and carbs low. It suggests sticking to low glycemic index fruits and vegetables. Legumes (peanuts and beans), dairy, and grains tend to create an inflammatory response, hence the suggestion to avoid. For athletes, it can be a great option as well. The difference is adding in simple sugars and starches immediately post workout. There is a saying in CrossFit circles, “You can’t get all your calories from broccoli.” There is much truth to that statement, especially if you want to be strong!

Above is a helpful chart that tells you foods that you should eat and foods you should avoid with this diet.

To note: prior to 2009, Robb Wolfe was actually the lead instructor on the CrossFit Nutrition certification courses and he promoted Paleo above all others. This relationship ended in 2009.

Here is where the problem lies and this stems from my own experience. I started CrossFit in 2010 and Paleo was all the rage with CrossFit gyms around the country. Paleo this, Paleo Challenge that. As a gym, we would do a 30-day challenge where we would go strict Paleo for those 30 days (cold turkey quit the junk). We would have get-togethers where we only brought ‘Paleo’ food and posted our favorite recipes online. This sounds amazing right? A support group! Well, this turned into shaming (at least in my experience) when you ate brown rice on a Tuesday and binge eating immediately post Challenge. People brought more ‘Paleo’ desserts to the gatherings than they did true Paleo food. So, you can see how this approach doesn’t change a person’s relationship with food nor does it create a sustainable nutrition plan? Paleo in and of itself can absolutely be sustainable if done properly.

This approach worked for me the first few months. I treated it as a lifestyle and would only indulge every so often with the desserts. However, quality was preached over quantity and the tendency to overeat, even if it was high quality food, didn’t work. My other issue would be my cheat meal on the weekend. It would contain so many calories (because I saw it as a reward for being good all week); I would undo so much of what I had worked so hard for during the week.

At the end of the day, in order to lose weight, you must burn more than you consume. In order to maintain weight, it should balance. If you consume more than you burn, you will gain weight. It isn’t necessarily that simple and there are many factors including hormone levels, body fat, lean muscle mass, sleep and stress that play a role. I will talk later about how you can combine Paleo with macros in order to thwart the whole binge eating!!

Zone Diet

Dr. Sears’ The Zone Diet is much more scientific. The ‘Zone’ is the optimal level your body should be in to control inflammation produced by diet. It is actually a clinical physiological state that can be blood tested.
There are 3 markers that can be tested:
1. TG/HDL (triglycerides and high density lipoprotein) – this is tested when you get your cholesterol checked and indicates insulin resistance in the liver.
2. AA/EPA – this will tell you how much inflammation is diet-induced in the body.
3. HbA1c – this test measures the average plasma glucose concentration over a 3-month period and is the test used in screening for diabetes.

Very few people, less than 1% actually, of the U.S. population is ‘in the zone.’ When a person is ‘in the zone’, they are less likely to develop chronic illnesses related to long-term inflammation. This type of diet is long term and requires a high level of dedication in order to reach and stay in the zone. Weighing and measuring food is a huge component of this diet.

Picture courtesy of

The pyramid above is similar to Paleo, in that you still eat fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. The difference is grains and starches are encouraged in small amounts and fat is much lower.

Calculating how much a person should be eating is based on the 40/30/30 macronutrient (macro) rule: 40% Carbohydrates, 30% Protein, and 30% Fat. Blocks are used to describe how much of each macro is needed per meal or snack. A block is equivalent to 7 grams of protein, 9 grams of carbs, and 1.5 grams of fat. A 3-block meal would then include 21g of protein, 27g of carbs, and 4.5g of fat.

In it’s simplest form, we can take the chart from the CrossFit Journal article referenced at the bottom of this article in order to determine how many blocks a day one should eat.

Here is where my issue lies with this diet. For me, as an athletic, well-muscled female, I would get 14 blocks a day. Calculated out for total daily calories consumed would be very low!! Remember how much 1 block is equal to in terms of macros?
14 x 7 g protein = 98g
14 x 9 g carb = 126g
14 x 1.5 g fat = 21g

Now, carbohydrates and protein are both 4 calories/gram, while fat is 9 calories/gram. So, with a little math, we find that I would only be consuming 1,085 calories per day with 14 blocks. In order for a female’s hormones to regulate normally, 1,200 calories is the minimum recommended.

I tried Zone for a couple of months. It was a ton of food, but the food was not calorically dense. I never could finish the 3 cups of broccoli on my plate that was required to meet the blocks I needed in the carbohydrate category!! And remember the quote I referenced earlier: ‘you can’t get all your calories from broccoli’? As athletes, we NEED the denser foods to fuel our workouts and get strong!!

Now, someone could absolutely add in more blocks in order to increase the daily caloric intake. The issue is with how low the chart is itself. For many, if they have no education in the art and science of nutrition, they will take the chart at face value and either get fed up with being hungry and quit the diet or continue under-nourishing their bodies. Neither is ideal! A good place to start is to know how many calories your body needs and base blocks off of those numbers rather than simply relying on the blocks chart itself.

Ketogenic/Carb Cycling

I am going to group these two together. The Ketogenic diet is high fat, moderate protein, low to no carb. The body can use glucose (simple sugar) or ketone bodies (fats broken down) for energy. The brain needs this energy to function. The muscle needs this energy to grow. The fat needs this energy to burn. The Ketogenic diet forces the body to use ketone bodies rather than glucose for these purposes.

In the 1920s, a doctor at the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Russell Wilder, developed this diet to treat epilepsy. According to The Charlie Foundation for Ketogenic Therapies, “an elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood, a state known as ketosis, leads to a reduction in the occurrence of epileptic seizures.“ Since that time, studies have revealed this diet can have therapeutic effects on diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, and CVD. Even more interesting, there is emerging evidence that it could be beneficial for Alzheimer’s patients, cancer patients, and neuro patients.

**The Ketogenic diet is best done under the supervision of a doctor. For women, hormones could get out of whack if they aren’t taking in enough fat and have eliminated carbs out of the diet. There are test strips that a person can urinate on in order to see if they are in a state of ketosis or not. If they aren’t, they would need to up their dietary fat intake.

I have not had any personal experience with the full on Ketogenic diet. I have, however, spent several months carb cycling. My previous coach was an original Ketogenic supporter who wrote books on carb back loading and carb cycling. Carb back loading simply refers to intermittent fasting and timing of carbs (in the evening). Carb cycling refers to high and low carb days.

My personal experience with carb cycling was amazing while I was actively doing it. My first 10 days were spent not counting anything at all! Eat as much fat and protein as you want. I wish I still had the side-by-side comparison that showed the difference. I even did a CrossFit competition toward the end of those 10 days where I PR’d my thruster and my deadlift. After the initial 10 days, I got a carb re-feed where I could eat as many carbs as I wanted after 5pm until 10pm. Days would then go 3 days no carbs, 1 day clean carbs with dinner, 2 days no carbs, 1 day carb re-feed 5pm to 10pm. I did this for almost a year on repeat. I got strong and jacked!! Then, I decided to change things up and I had a really hard time re-introducing carbs back into my daily meals. Even the clean carbs that never bothered me before would bloat me and make me gassy. After a blood panel, it was realized my hormones were out of whack and my blood sugar was messed up. It took a few months for me to level out. Was it the carb cycling or my being a woman that caused it? Can’t say for sure, but I had a guy friend who was doing it at the same time who had some of the same issues with his blood sugar when he started adding the carbs back in.

I love my bacon and eggs, steak, and heavy cream, so it wasn’t hard at all to get on board with this plan. If I were to do it again (which I very well could), I would make sure to keep my hormones and blood sugar in check.

My suggestion if someone is planning on carb cycling is to research it first and again, enlist someone to help them know how long to go without carbs and how often to re-feed.


There are different names out there for macro counting: Flexible Dieting, if it Fits Your Macros, and our very own nutrition program, Eat What You Want. When someone follows a macro counting plan, gender, height, weight, age, daily activity, and workout intensity are all taken into consideration in order to create the perfect numbers to fit anyone’s goals. Protein is the constant, while carbs and fats can be manipulated. As changes are needed, it is easy to go back in and recalculate numbers. There are calculators out there that do the work for you (for the most part). Having a coach to fine tune and tweak as well as provide accountability is even better. This type of diet does require weighing and measuring as well as tracking through something like MyFitnessPal or similar in order to be successful.

DO NOT mistake ‘eating what you want’ as I can eat 9 donuts to get my 1800 calories. That is not what is being advocated here. What is being advocated is a balanced daily caloric intake of protein, carbs, and fats based on your personal goals. The sustainability aspect here is that if you feel like you just want that donut on Wednesday, skip your oatmeal for breakfast and eat the donut. Common sense would tell us to eat high quality, nutrient dense food 90% of the time. The difference is there is no shaming if you eat the donut AND you have not sabotaged your entire week if you use moderation and stick to the numbers laid out for you.

Here is where someone could eat Paleo and get all the benefits that accompany that way of eating by using macros to know how much should be consumed daily. These two diets compliment each other very well.

Time to wrap this up.

I know I’ve thrown a lot at you and have been long-winded. I’m a nutrition nerd and think everyone should know the options. There is plenty of research out there to support all of these diets. Some will say weighing and measuring is the only way. Others will say just eat high quality foods. And, yes, the science is more exact when you weigh and measure. The determining factor is how much work you are willing to put into your nutrition. Is it sustainable for you? Can you make it a lifestyle? Those are the questions you need to ask yourself.

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Nutrition and the Holidays: Staying on Track by Rebekah Tilson

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As we come up on Christmas and head towards New Year’s, it’s common to struggle with your nutrition and put on some unwanted fat. So Rebekah Tilson is here today to give you some great tips on how to manage it all. Rebekah has an extensive education and history in training and nutrition – and she’s the head coach for our Eat What You Want program. If anyone will give you straight advice on nutrition in real life, it’s her. So enjoy!

Nutrition and the Holidays: Staying on Track by Rebekah Tilson

Well, it’s that time of year again… candy canes and cookies and dreamy sugar plum fairies. Cheese dipped this and chocolate covered that… but wait, we’re training… and trying to get jacked. So what’s a girl (or guy…) to do with all these temptations swimming around? Here are some of my go-to tips for creating a Holiday season filled with health, happiness, and a bit of that enjoyment thing…

  • Stick to your goals. No excuses. You’ve spent all year training to keep your body in shape, have made progress in the form of weight loss, or killer PRs… just because December 1 rolls around doesn’t mean you throw caution to the wind and forget about all the work you put in for the past 11 months. Whatever your goals, keep that in the forefront of your mind. For me it’s living long and living healthy. Scooping up a mini-cheesecake is not going to help me reach my goal; my goal is bigger and more important than that sugar-laden confection. For you it might be to lose 3% body fat, or hit 100 kilos on your snatch. These goals are more important than momentary satisfaction and indulgence. So next time you reach for the tipsy egg nog or decadent chocolate treat, remind yourself that your goals, your progress, and you are more important.
  • Make a plan. We have a yearly spaghetti dinner with friends that we are lucky enough to attend. We know this, so we don’t eat spaghetti for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that day. In fact, we save a bunch of carbs (from our macro plan) for that evenings’ indulgence. Yes, I said it, we go HAM on some spaghetti. That’s our plan, we’ve thought about it. We don’t leave our health to chance, we make a plan and a decision. Another plan that works great: limit yourself to two appetizers, or two drinks for that work party you’re going to… “But, it’s the end of the day and I’m starving?!” you say… well, here’s where the next tip fits in…
  • Prep, prep, prep. Prep time is not just for pre-competition, or for those days when you have all the time in the world to bake 25 sweet potatoes on a Sunday night. Prep is to fuel your goals. Set aside an hour or two one day a week to cook protein, carbs, and whatever else you need for a successful and healthy week. Add some extra fiber to enhance satiety so you’re not tempted to reach into that bowl of red and green foiled kisses sitting on your co-worker’s desk. Use spice (cumin is where it’s at) and make your food more interesting to eat than the factory-made, store-bought, tastes-like-waxy-sugar mini crunch bars jumping and waving at you from across the room.
  • Let it go. If you’ve jumped ship into the world of creamy, sugary crazy, don’t give up hope. Let it go. Don’t continue to snowball into a frenzy thinking January 1 is around the corner. Your new year’s resolution starts right now. Don’t beat yourself up at going over your two-app limit, or having an extra piece of cake, it’s ok and your body will get over it… so let your mind get over it, too.

Creating some simple “rules” or guidelines for yourself during this season is extremely helpful in feeling like you can indulge a bit and have fun with friends and family while not derailing your goals. As a note, every December my goal is to leave the holiday season more fit than when I went into it. It’s not too late for you to jump on board, too… we still have these next seven days to knock it out of the park!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and amazing New Year!




Mash Mafia is celebrating Christmas and the Holidays with the “12 Days of Christmas” Holiday Specials. Here’s what you get:

10% off all E-Books


Free Domestic Shipping for all of our New Apparel


Check out all the savings here: ==> 12 Days of Christmas Holiday Specials

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