“Indeed, CrossFit athletes who betrayed the diet plan, for example, eating a whole pizza twice a week, were protected from overtraining symptoms and improved their performances,” explains the Brazilian Endocrinologist Flávio Cadegiani, MD, MSc, PhD- the main researcher of the first study on clinical, metabolic and hormonal characteristics in CrossFit, recently published in the Journal of Sports Sciences, produced by Brazilian researches from the Federal University of São Paulo.
CrossFit is a relatively new sport that has millions of athletes worldwide. The United States is among the leading countries in which the sport is practiced. Despite its popularity, few studies have been published about the benefits of CrossFit. According to research led by Doctor Flávio Cadegiani, who coordinate a medical center called Corpometria in Brazil the benefits of practicing this sport were many: improvement in muscle recovery, mood, fat oxidation, and muscle mass and a decrease in body fat.
The study revealed great news. Surprisingly, athletes who did not follow the popular low carbohydrate diet were benefited. “For these athletes, cheating the diet sometimes can be highly beneficial as it boosts performance and, paradoxically, induce fat burning. In our study, those who ate a whole pizza twice a week were protected from overtraining and improved their performance,” explains Cadegiani.
The study also identified that athletes on a long-term low-carbohydrate diet may suffer from a “contemporary version” of the overtraining syndrome, not triggered by excessive training, but from underfeeding and overwork, affecting hormones, metabolism, muscle, moods, and body hydration status. From the findings of the EROS-CrossFit study, the researchers give practical tips at the end of the study, which can be very useful for CrossFit users. Some of these tips are:
1. In the case of a long-term low-carbohydrate diet (longer than 8 weeks), the high-carbohydrate compensated meal may protect against fatigue or any unexplained loss of performance and may improve performance and fat burning.
2. Athletes may not notice typical and atypical signs of overtraining, including fatigue, mood swings, decreased performance, increased the sense of effort or increased paradoxical body fat or decreased muscle mass as they are highly motivated by the sport.
3. When training for competitions, athletes should avoid excessive cognitive effort (studying or working) for more than 8 hours a day, as this may be an external trigger of overtraining.
4. Sleep better. Practice relaxation exercises that are effective for high-performance athletes.
The full EROS-CrossFit study can be found in the Journal of Sports Sciences and reveals that CrossFit is the only sport that enhances all 10 major types of physical fitness processes and has unpredictable and irregular training patterns.