In this months premiere issue of The Box (a fitness magazine that offers training and nutrtion advice for the Crossfit enthusiasts), Rich Froning Jr. shared his nutritional program, a diet that he briefly shared in a video clip during the 2011 Crossfit Games on ESPN. Winner of the 2011 and 2012 Crossfit Games and titled “The Fittest Man On Earth”, Froning shares, “I don’t have much of a diet. I eat a lot of peanut butter and drink a lot of whole milk. And protein shakes are my thing. At night, I eat whatever I want, but through the day, I don’t really eat that much. When I train guys, I tell them to eat clean meat and vegetables, and all that stuff. But when it comes to me, I don’t really listen to myself.”
This is a mind-blowing revelation of Froning’s so-called diet because it is not a paleolithic diet, which the majority of the Crossfit community tries to follow, nor does it quite fall under the Crossfit dietary prescription, but somehow it works for him. Let’s break this diet down, and figure out why it works for him.
First, let’s consider his daily schedule (as read in the article): “7:30 am – wake up and read the Bible”; “8:15 am – warm-up on the Airdyne and then begin first WOD (Workout Of the Day)”; “9 am – Train a group of professional motocross athletes (and occasionally jump in to their workout)”; “11:45 am – A member of the Tennessee Tech football coaching staff comes over to work on some big lifts and complete a WOD that will include the lift that was practiced”; “3 pm – Practice Olympic lifts and then perform a WOD that includes the lift that was practiced”; “Evening – Do an interval workout on the Concept2 rower.” As you can see, Froning has a physically busy schedule.
Now let’s answer why Froning’s unusual diet works. Peanuts from the peanut butter is rich in nutrients and phytonutrients. Peanuts are a great source of niacin, folate, fiber, magnesium, vitamin E, manganese, phosphorus, and protein. In particular, niacin helps in brain health and blood flow. When the peanuts are roasted, the peanuts then increases it’s concentration of antioxidant polyphenols, specifically p-coumaric acid. Another antioxidant present in peanuts is reservatrol, which can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Also present in peanuts is Coenzyme Q10, which is another antioxidant that helps with heart health and the body’s metabolism. And as a high source of mono- and polysaturated fats, peanuts can help a person feel “full” after eating a serving of peanuts. When he mixes it with grape jelly, now he has a good pre-workout meal with both protein and sugars that will sustain him during a workout.
Whole milk contains vitamins (such as Vitamin A, B2, B12, D, and K), minerals (such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium), and protein. Whole milk also contains fat, which may help a person feel “full” after drinking a serving of whole milk.
Finally, protein shakes are used, more than likely, as a post-workout meal to help with muscle recovery and building.
Add this all up, Froning consumes a high amount of protein, a low amount of carbohydrates, and a high amount of fat (mostly monounsaturated from the peanuts). Not exactly what is described in the Crossfit dietary prescription of 30% protein, 40% carbohydrates, and 30% fats, but calorie-wise Froning may be eating a sufficient amount for the work he does in a day.
Now, let’s answer why this can be a potentially bad diet. For one, if the peanuts are not roasted, then the peanuts can possibly be contaminated with the mold Aspergillus flavus which produces a carcinogenic substance called aflatoxin, which can cause inflammation and digestive disease. And If a person is allergic to peanuts, then one can experience a mild to severe allergic reaction. Whole milk can possibly cause problems in adults, including heart disease, arthritis, allergy, sinusitis, and lactose intolerance. Let alone the possible controversial problems because of the toxins and chemicals that cows are exposed to, which may lead to such side effects like cancer. Unless a person drinks organic milk, which may not contain the toxins and chemicals a cow may unnaturally exposed to.
Ultimately, Rich Froning Jr. does not show negative signs or symptoms from eating peanut butter and drinking whole milk. In fact with this particular diet and how hard he works out, he has won back-to-back Crossfit Games. We cannot say for certain that down the road of Froning’s life that there may be negative signs and symptoms due to this diet, but as for today, he is “The Fittest Man on Earth,” and part of the reason for his success is this unusual diet. Though it does not seem like a sufficient amount of food, have enough variety of foods, or mindful of side effects, Froning’s diet simply provides the nutrients and energy he needs to succeed.