This is part of Athlete Daily’s 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. This week we sat down with CrossFit and GRID athlete Jamie Hagiya, who discussed all things body image previously.
Hagiya, a former USC Trojan, played four years of collegiate basketball and found CrossFit in 2012. She is a co-owner of CrossFit Torrance and competed at her first CrossFit Games this year, finishing 18th overall.
Athlete Daily: What’s your general approach to nutrition—macros, Paleo, Zone?
Hagiya: “I follow Renaissance Periodization, which goes by macros. It’s not so much Paleo, as we need [more] carbs—especially working out so much—but they break it down for you as far as protein, fats, and carbs and the timing of [when to eat] it.”
Athlete Daily: You’ve been an athlete pretty much your whole life. Did you always know nutrition was important?
Hagiya: “For me, personally, I have four meals throughout the day. I’m 31-I’m old [laughs]. And I played basketball my whole life—in college, professionally, and I never knew anything about nutrition. Even [my] first three years into CrossFit I was eating two meals a day.”
Athlete Daily: So when you were playing basketball you were eating two meals a day?
Hagiya: Oh god, it was probably even worse over there.
Athlete Daily: How were you able to do any kind of athletics eating two meals a day? Was that purposely?
Hagiya: “I think in every other sport women and body image issues is a tough thing to talk about, and I specifically remember one time in college my [basketball] coach weighed us. Normally I’m around 148-150 lb., 152 lb. maybe. But there was one time I went up to 158 lb. and he talked to me and my best friend about this, and he’s like “Guys…”. And it makes you very self-conscious.
So there’s that, but I think overall basketball players are not so strict on our diets. We would go out and they would let us order desserts and pastas and bad things. When say, you’re on the track team or the volleyball team, and swimmers—they had to be very strict about their diets.
In general, I would eat clean for the most part, but I love cupcakes, I love cookies, I love French fries. In Greece that’s all they have. Their diet is healthy — chicken and euros and that kind of stuff — but there’s always French fries with every meal. Their desserts are delicious, and so I would just eat whatever I wanted.”
Athlete Daily: Did that change at all when you started CrossFit?
Hagiya: “When I started doing CrossFit I would skip breakfast, work out in the morning/afternoon-ish, and then eat my first meal at 1-2:00pm of chicken, rice and whatever veggies. Then I would work out again or train people or coach. and then not eat again until we’d go out to eat at maybe 8 or 9 at night.
When I first started with RP, [my coach], Nick Shaw, had me send him a template of what I ate. And I sent him that, and he goes ‘Seriously, I don’t even know how you function. I don’t even get how you’re able to do workouts on eating that.’”
Athlete Daily: So how many years into CrossFit before you even thought about changing how you ate?
Hagiya: A good two, two-and-a-half years. Literally that’s what I would do [just eat those two meals]. No protein shake, nothing. I think in my head [it made sense], because I was still thinking, ‘Oh yeah, I can be skinny and work out and I’ll just eat these two meals.'”
Athlete Daily: Did you feel like hungry at all or lethargic, just eating two meals a day?
Hagiya: The weird part was I thought I was okay. I don’t know, I thought my energy levels were okay, but maybe not. Once I got with [with a nutrition coach] the crazy, eye-opening thing was, hey I need to eat.
Because [my nutrition coach] was like ‘Woah, woah we’re changing A LOT of things.’ And, at first, like every girl or even males probably are like this, [I said] you want me to eat more food and more often? I’m going to gain SO MUCH weight. And [I was] kind of afraid to do that.
Until I gave it a chance and I said, ‘Wow’. I really saw my energy levels go up. I saw my [body] fat going down and my muscle going up and my numbers going up in weightlifting. It was really a good, good thing for me to actually have some direction in nutrition.”
Athlete Daily: Going from eating two meals a day to eating what was prescribed for you, did it take you awhile to buy into that? Did you have to work up slowly to eating more food?
Hagiya: “Well, that’s why I came [back to him] with so many questions. I [said], ‘What does this mean, what are these numbers, what is this? And he had to say so many times ‘just trust me, just give it a chance.’
I feel like probably everyone does that, [say] ‘No, I can’t eat too much’. That’s why I tell people it is tough in the beginning. But once you get used to it and you get results — maybe 2-3 months — then you’re sold.”
Athlete Daily: How regimented are you with your diet? You mentioned still fitting in some Oreos every now and then.
Hagiya: “Sometimes I’ll go off of [my diet]. For me, because I love food so much, it is so hard for me [to stay exactly to the template all the time], you know? And I talked to Chyna Cho at Regionals and she said the same thing—she follows RP, too. I think RP is great and if you stick to that 95% of the time, great.
But if you literally love food it’s okay [to be flexible]. I think that’s what helps me from binging. At nighttime if I have a little bit of ice cream or some days I really want [something], don’t deny yourself that.
For me I know that’s what works. I know for some people, you open that door and it opens the flood gates. It helped me relax, going into Regionals and everything. Chyna was saying ‘Yeah, I have a glass of wine every couple of nights.’ And I thought, ‘Okay, cool’. When I need to buckle down, yes, I will. And sometimes I’ll slack off a little bit. But, overall it’s been such a good thing for me [to dial in nutrition].
I think the joke with me is that my diet is all cupcakes and cookies and ice cream. But I’ll eat clean for the whole day and, if we have ice cream in the freezer, I’ll have some if I want to. Even during Regionals, even during the Games.”
Athlete Daily: It’s all about finding out what approach works for you and what foods work for you.
Hagiya: [Yeah] There was a time when our training volume went up crazy, I was running so much and doing so much more cardio that I went out and bought Fruity Pebbles at the store and I thought I can eat this. Then I went to that Training Grounds Camp and it was just interesting to hear what some people eat. Like Michelle LeTendre eats totally clean, she said pita bread is like a cheat. And some people eat horrible, you know french fries and cookies. Jen Smith loves ice cream. And that’s why I [wondered] should I not be eating fruity pebbles, should I eat clean? So that kind of changed it to, oh for me, I probably should not eat like that, because my body type. So I changed to cleaner carbs, like pita bread and rice and things like that.
Athlete Daily: What was the first thing you treated yourself to after the Games ended this year?
Hagiya: “The first thing I did after the Games was go to Paleo Nick’s booth and get his chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich. It was the BOMB. I seriously texted him and said, “I hope you have some because I’m coming straight over there’. Literally after my last event, I beelined to the vendor village.”
Typical Day of Meals and Training for Jamie Hagiya
Training session #1 10:30am-12:30-1:00pm
Post workout— 3FU3L chocolate protein shake mixed with water (it contains both protein and carbohydrates.)
Lunch (1:30pm)— Chicken or steak with white rice, salad and veggies (I love Mediterranean food so I’ll eat that a lot.)
Then I’ll head back to the gym to either coach, workout for another hour, or train kids.
Small meal (5:00pm)— chicken, broccoli, some white rice and maybe some hummus. This is typically a smaller version of my lunch.
Coach at the gym until 7ish.
Dinner (7:30-8:00pm)— Sometimes we’ll go out just grab whatever is open. Again, I love Mediterranean food so we’ll do that a lot.
Athlete Daily Nutrition Series
Week 1 — CrossFit Games athlete Emily Bridgers
Week 2 — CrossFit athlete Christian Lucero
Week 3 — CrossFit Games Masters athlete Cheryl Brost
Week 4 — U.S. Olympic Team Weightlifter Morgan King
Week 5 — Human Improvement Project’s Gabe Subry
Week 6 — Weightlifter, GRID CrossFit athlete Marco Coppola
Week 7 — CrossFit Games athlete Lindy Barber
Week 8 — GRID and CrossFit athlete Jamie Hagiya
Week 9 — GRID athlete Andrew Rape
Week 10 — Olympic lifter Anthony Pomponio
Week 11 —CrossFit athlete Andrea Ager
Week 12 —Powerlifter Ewa Januszkiewicz
Week 13 — Weightlifter and Powerlifter Kris Pope
Week 14 — Weightlifter Travis Cooper
Week 15 — Weightlifter Cortney Batchelor
Have an athlete you’d like to see featured? Let us know!