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. This week we sat down with CrossFit Games Masters athlete Cheryl Brost.
Cheryl Brost knows what it means to be busy. The 45-year-old mother of two splits up her days juggling her work in real estate—which she does along with her husband— and squeezing in about three hours of CrossFit training a day. Having made six appearances at the CrossFit Games, (three as a Masters athlete) Brost knows a thing or two about fueling and performance, boasting a 165 lb. snatch!
After placing fourth at the 2016 Games, she secured her place atop the podium this past year, as the 2017 CrossFit Games Masters 45-49 Champion. Brost, who trains out of CrossFit All-Star in Waimea, Hawaii, isn’t a slave to her food scale and wants to inspire other women in their 40s to do the same.
Athlete Daily: What’s your general approach to nutrition? Macros, Paleo, Zone, etc.
Cheryl: “Over my CrossFit career I’ve done a little of everything—Paleo, Zone. I’ve come full circle—tried them all and I liked them. [I] did the very strict, Whole 30 program…where you couldn’t even have a piece of chewing gum. [With] where I’m at now, I know what I need to eat, I know what an athlete needs to eat, I know to be a healthy person, what you need to eat.
In 2012, when I was still competing with youngsters, I was probably at my very leanest that I’ve ever been 9-10% body fat, and I started to feel like my body was starting to break down a bit. I just needed to add more starches, more carbs to my diet. So I started to loosen up [my diet] and be a little bit more flexible.
My mom is Hawaiian, so we were raised regularly eating rice every night. I had completely cut that out of my diet for a long time, so I started adding that back, and of course potatoes—things that would give me a little bit more energy.”
Athlete Daily: Are there any foods you avoid completely?
Cheryl: “I don’t really have any dairy intolerances or gluten intolerances. I try to limit it, but I don’t completely abstain from them. I keep an eye on my sugars—don’t eat a lot of them. But if I want to go have a yummy shaved ice every now and then I will [laughs]. Or ice cream. I’m not a big sweets fan, I think I’ve kind of weaned myself off of it. Sodas, I don’t drink sodas, so that’s one things [I avoid] for sure. Alcohol—very rarely, when we’re on vacation, just very sporadically. I’m not afraid to have a night out and just relax though. I don’t freak out like ‘Oh my gosh I’m having a beer!’ I’m more relaxed.”
Athlete Daily: Even close to the Games, you’re still keep things pretty relaxed? If your husband wanted to go out to dinner and maybe have a beer, you wouldn’t say no I can’t?
Cheryl: “I’ve been there, done that, and I don’t really like the feeling of..my family supports me, but you know when you’re with a big family gathering and [people are saying], ‘Oh, can you have that Cheryl?’ And I’m like, ‘Umm..’ Not that they’d peer pressure me, but it makes them kind of feel uncomfortable when I’m choosing not to [eat something].
The other night we had a family friend on the island, and we all got together and I had one glass of red wine. I enjoy the taste of wine, it’s nice and relaxing. But I’m not a big boozer. I don’t think even this close to the Games, one drink’s not going to hurt you. You’re talking about daily use and over-abundance. Use that’s going to have a detrimental effect—I don’t go there. One drink a week isn’t going to hurt you.”
Athlete Daily: It’s refreshing that you’re able to just enjoy life and be flexible, and not so rigid with things.
Cheryl: “Yes, flexible. That’s a good word. But I have been there—I have been where [I have to say] I can’t do that. And then the people I spend time with, I don’t want them to feel uncomfortable or make them feel less than, because they think I might frown down upon them because they do [eat or drink that] and I don’t. I like them to have respect for me and what I’m able to do, and also see that I’m an every day person.
I’m very approachable. [I want people to say] ‘Yeah she has a piece of cake every now and then or ice cream.’ I want to inspire people, and make [them] believe that they can achieve these things too, and they don’t have to be perfect.”
Athlete Daily: So portion sizes are just based off guestimating or are you measuring and weighing food?
Cheryl: Every once in a while I’ll check it, just to make sure my eye is accurate, but I think going through the experience of strict Paleo and then for a while strict Zone, and going through the process of weighing and measuring everything while I was on the Zone, helped train my eye to what the right portions [are]. I try to listen to my body, too, and not just stay strict to some measurement. And make mental notes of just generally how your body is feeling day-to-day and make adjustments accordingly.
I’m very approachable. [I want people to say] ‘Yeah she has a piece of cake every now and then or ice cream.’ I want to inspire people, and make [them] believe that they can achieve these things too, and they don’t have to be perfect.
Athlete Daily: What got you into CrossFit?
Cheryl: I started CrossFit December 2009. I didn’t join [CrossFit] knowing there was [room for] competition; I was a 24 Hour Fitness Lifetime member just looking for something different. It wasn’t until two months after joining that the owner of the gym talked about sectionals coming up.
A few of us from the gym went up and participated. So I qualified from there and then went to Regionals and podiumed. I found myself going to the CrossFit Games when I was 39 [years-old]. The community [aspect of CrossFit] really filled a void for me that I had been missing for years.
(Brost was a collegiate soccer player at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington.)
Typical Day of Food for Cheryl Brost
Wake up 6:45-7:00 a.m. Having kids, summer time can be a little more relaxed
Breakfast (8:30-9)— Omelette with spinach and bacon, ½ to 1 cup of coffee
Pre workout snack (11 a.m.)— Progenex bar
Training session 12:00-3:00pm
At the start of every workout I’ll mix up my pre workout drink of Progenex Force with a little bit extra creatine with a little extra BCAAs and something called Quadrangularis (it has healing components) and I’ll sip that during the first hour of my training.
Post Workout— 2 scoops Progenex Build and 2 scoops Progenex Recovery/More Muscle
I’ve been switching my flavors around lately, the Cookies and Cream More Muscle is probably my favorite, although the chocolate is good too. What’s really a good flavor combo is the Vanilla Recovery mixed with the Progenex Build—tastes like butterscotch!
Lunch (4:00pm)— Grilled ahi with rice and salad or I’ll do tacos after training. I like to have a lot of big salads with protein, whether its chicken or steak.
Dinner (7:00pm)— Usually BBQ, anything on the grill—steak or chicken with salad, either broccoli, asparagus or artichokes, with either some rice or potatoes.
Bedtime— Maybe a small apple banana (local in Hawaii). Occasionally I’ll some Progenex Cocoon.