When I started CrossFit more than two years ago, I asked Jade Jenny, head CrossFit coach and owner of Champlain Valley CrossFit, if he could introduce me to anyone who had inspiring before-and-after transformation stories to share. I was expecting him to have dozens, given that he's been coaching CrossFit for more than a decade. He just looked at me and said that CrossFit isn't the magic key to automatically changing your body composition.
"Reducing body fat ultimately comes down to how you eat," he said. People can do CrossFit or some other workout six times a week, but if they don't change their diet, or they eat garbage, they'll get stronger, but they won't lose fat. He completely agrees with these two old sayings: "you can't exercise away a bad diet," and "abs are made in the kitchen," because he's coached countless people and has witnessed it firsthand. In order to lose body fat, you need to reduce your overall body fat percentage by dialing in your diet, eating whole foods, ditching the junk, and creating a calorie deficit.
The other thing that will help lose weight, Jade suggests, is "putting on muscle." So instead of hours of cardio, focus your workouts on strength training, and don't be afraid to lift heavy! Even if you don't change your diet and you "maintain the same amount of fat on your body and add muscle, you'll effectively decrease the percent of fat on your body, which will ultimately help you look slightly leaner." What's more, muscle also burns more calories at rest, "so if you're keeping your food intake the same, and you put muscle on, there is a good chance you'll lose a little fat at the same time," he explained.
If you're working out to lose more than a few pounds, but you haven't seen results aside from the number of plates on your bar, it's time to look at the amount of food on your plate. Keep a food journal and track your calories and macros for a week to see your habits. If you're eating tons of sugar, processed junk, fried foods, or refined carbs like pizza, bagels, and pasta, you'll want to start swapping those for whole foods. Load up on the veggies, lean protein, fresh fruit, complex carbs, and nuts and seeds. If you're already eating clean, you may want to measure and weigh your food for that week to get an accurate sense of how much you're eating. After that first week, you can make small adjustments to reach your goals.