This is part of Athlete Daily’s weekly series highlighting high-level athletes across the world of strength training and functional fitness, and how they approach diet and nutrition. Learn what some of the best athletes in the world eat, how they fuel themselves and lessons learned along the way. Today we are talking to first-time CrossFit Games qualifier Christian Lucero.
Lucero, who started CrossFit in 2013, manages CrossFit AVA in Orange, Calif. and his wife, Jessica, is an elite Olympic weightlifter. After finishing 19th in the worldwide CrossFit Open, he secured a trip to the CrossFit Games by placing fourth in the California Regional. The 23-year-old Lucero is listed at 5’10”, 190 lb.
Athlete Daily: What’s your general approach to nutrition—macros, zone, Paleo, etc.?
Lucero: “I work with a [nutrition] coach and he gives me my allotted macros based on my body composition, the volume of my training, all of that. I work with a local company called PaleoZone—they take care of preparing my meals and getting those ready to go. Most of their stuff is paleo—they’ll incorporate [basic Paleo staples like] cabbage, fruits, meat, etc. and then for me, just because of the volume of my training, they’ll do pancakes, tacos and burritos. I try to follow the basic guidelines of getting all those nutrient-dense foods in first and then supplement with other stuff.
Right now, [leading up to the CrossFit Games], I eat 70 grams of fat, 250 grams of protein, and 550 grams of carbohydrates.”
Athlete Daily: What about before you started following macros, how has your diet changed over the years?
Lucero: “I’d say about a year or so ago I started eating more starchy fruits and starchy carbs and honestly just felt better, with the amount of volume in my training and all the things that I’m doing. It’s all about finding a good balance for me, and not overdoing it.
[So I eat] a lot of starchy foods as well. I’ll do pastas, tortillas, rice, quinoa, a good amount of sweet potatoes and lentils, and then I’ll also throw in some bread, so things like bagels. I’ll throw in a donut in there if I’m craving one. Pizza is my other vice. If I’m feeling super wiped from training I’m craving a cheat food, I’ll do it just to keep my mental sanity.”
Athlete Daily: What made you start adding more starches to your diet?
Lucero: “Just feeling beat up [from training], seeing what other athletes were doing that I was friends with or training with. Seeing what other top athletes were experimenting with and what they were successful with. It’s all about trial and error. ‘Let’s try this and see if it works’. Is this working? No, okay change it up.
It’s all about finding what works for you, there’s no one magic thing that works for everyone. You just have to find what works for you and it doesn’t matter if it’s working for everyone else. Just find what works for you and just be confident [with that].”
Athlete Daily: How long do you typically train for?
Lucero: “During the year, I train for about three to four hours a day. I usually do a mid-morning session that’s an hour long and then an early afternoon session that’s about two to two-and-a-half hours long. I do that four days a week and then one day a week I’ll just do one longer [training] piece. I usually take two full rest days.
Leading into the CrossFit Games, training has been different. So yesterday was a typical day: we went to the beach and trained for about two hours; came back and trained for another two hours at the gym, and then came back again in the evening for another 3 hours. So that was about a seven-hour day [of training].”
Athlete Daily: With the amount of times you’re training each day, is it hard for you to stay fueled throughout the day? Do you pay attention at all to meal timing?
Lucero: “I’ve seen how good I feel when I eat when I’m supposed to, so I try to stick to [a schedule], making sure I’m getting good food in every 30 minutes after a workout. Sometimes I’ll eat 30 minutes before training if I’m doing four sessions a day. [Otherwise it can be] hard to get food in two hours before. And I usually supplement with protein shakes and other recovery aides if I can’t get food in me for a few hours.
And that’s where [working with] the meal prep company comes in huge. On training days, I do supplement on top of those meals. Throw in some frozen yogurt and make it fit.”
Athlete Daily: You mentioned working with a nutrition coach. When did that start?
Lucero: “I work with a coach through Working Against Gravity. The owner, Adee, is a close friend of my wife. She started helping my wife out [with her macros] to be on weight for weightlifting competitions. [So] it’s a little more vital that she’s at a certain weight and be as strong as she can be at that weight…you have to fuel yourself correctly. [So] after seeing the amazing job she did with her, I started doing it too this past November.”
Athlete Daily: Any foods in particular that you avoid completely?
Lucero: “I stay away from empty sugars, so things like candy, soda, Oreos, you know, empty junk food. If I’m going to cheat, I’m going to try to make sure it’s pretty dense, it’s not empty [calories].”
Athlete Daily: Any go-to snacks/foods you have before or after workouts?
Lucero: “My PaleoZone meals and Progenex supplements are staples for me. I take a multi-vitamin and fish oil and BCAAs. Something I’ve been consistently doing is frozen yogurt, either before my evening workout or after. I’ll go to Yogurtland and they weigh it on a scale there so then I can just track it [on My Fitness Pal].”
Typical Day of Food and Training for Christian Lucero
Daily Macros: 70 grams fat, 250 grams protein, 550 grams carbohydrates
Wake up— 8:30-9:00 a.m.
Breakfast— Protein pancakes (total macros 125g carbs, 47 protein, 13g fat)
This is usually pretty close to training so I keep it super simple.
Training Session #1 (2 hours)— 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Post workout— Progenex Amplitude (creatine supplement) + build (carb supplement) mixed in water
Lunch— Eggs, whites, sweet potatoes, and a couple pieces of bacon
Pre workout— Creatine + BCAAs mixed in water
Training Session #2 (2 hours)— 1-3:00 p.m.
Lunch #2— Something easy to get down, usually rice, beans and chicken or I’ll do quinoa, lentils, and pulled pork
Meal/snack— A protein bar or I’ll have another meal before my evening training session, something smaller, usually a burrito with rice, beans, and chicken [from Paleo meal service].
Pre workout— Force + creatine mixed in water
Training Session #3 (3 hours)— 5:30-8:30 p.m.
In the middle of this session I’ll have a shake with protein and build, so I can have some carbs and protein.
Post workout— Creatine + BCAAs mixed in water
Dinner— Mashed potatoes, steak, broccoli, brussels sprouts or asparagus
This is typically a pretty hearty, dense meal for me.
Snack— Greek yogurt or frozen yogurt
If I need more protein I’ll add some to the Greek yogurt or I’ll do frozen yogurt if I need more carbs.
Bed around 10:30-11:00 p.m.