Nutrition as a Modifier in Health and Performance With Mary Dan Eades, M.D.

ByCrossFit April 9, 2022
Found in:220410,Health

The first session of the 2022 CrossFit Health Virtual Conference, held Jan. 21-22, focused on the role of nutrition in optimizing health and performance. The session’s three speakers, moderated by award-winning journalist and author Gary Taubes, explored the benefits and applications of specific, targeted dietary interventions, including fasting, low-carbohydrate diets, and nutritional ketosis.

Mary Dan Eades, M.D., was the second presenter of the session. In this presentation, Eades notes nutrition literature strongly supports the claim that lower-carbohydrate diets can be used to achieve a variety of beneficial clinical outcomes. Such diets have been shown to improve or even resolve obesity, diabetes, and other disorders associated with insulin resistance.

Eades reviews the evidence supporting the use of lower-carbohydrate diets to improve health before explaining the proper formulation of healthy low-carbohydrate diets and how to apply them safely and effectively with patients and athletes. Eades’ presentation ultimately provides an understanding of the optimal use of lower-carbohydrate diets to improve health outcomes, both broadly and for individual athletes.

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barbara waltz
May 15th, 2022 at 10:51 am
Commented on: Nutrition as a Modifier in Health and Performance With Mary Dan Eades, M.D.

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Blas Raventos
April 27th, 2022 at 8:15 pm
Commented on: Nutrition as a Modifier in Health and Performance With Mary Dan Eades, M.D.

I do not think its so weird that some registered dietitians are not ok with people getting better information from a non RD source when it comes to eating. If Kelly RD was deeply disturbed by this I will take a look. And if Mary Eades is talking, I will most likely learn something new today. Thank you CF for the content.

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Farzad Khosrownia
April 21st, 2022 at 1:34 am
Commented on: Nutrition as a Modifier in Health and Performance With Mary Dan Eades, M.D.

Thank you for this very well communicated knowledge. I have spent two years researching and studying nutrition, biochemistry, physiology and listening to you was a breeze and I still learned a lot. I have watched it three times in the past three hours and have a few more times remaining. There is something that is a source of problem in the nutrition community, and it is about how many meanings sugar could have, and how sugar and glucose are used interchangeably. The statement you quoted from Greg Glassman is something I had heard before, and in it is stated to "Eat...some fruit...and no sugar". But fruit generally contains sugar under the umbrella of carbohydrate, and some fruit are loaded with it. In Glassman's statement, can the term "sugar" be more specifically defined?

I am an engineer by trade, am 65 years old and almost ready for retirement. I picked up Crossfit because of disagreements with my doctor about dealing with cholesterol, and succeeded in reducing "the bad ones" to a much lower levels in six months without adding red wine to my daily diet :) I have been on ketogenic diet for nearly a year now. I researched and learned a thing or two about metabolism and am seeing our existence not to be that much different from that of any of the 37 trillion cells that are working 24-7 so all of the 37 trillion of us stay alive. I am fascinated by the cellular metabolism to the extent that I am considering getting formal education, and since you mentioned it so clearly, because of importance of biochemistry, I am also very interested in formal learning on that subject. One day I might better understand the difference in metabolism of saturated versus unsaturated AAs; something tells me the answer is in the difference in their structure.

I am a structural engineer, by the way :)

Thanks again; I enjoyed your video tremendously.


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Michael Giardina
April 14th, 2022 at 1:15 am
Commented on: Nutrition as a Modifier in Health and Performance With Mary Dan Eades, M.D.

Thank you for your comment, Kelly. That said, I find it very interesting that you would use such negative language as a professional in your field. Saying that Dr. Eades is not a REAL expert is false, and it is unfair. What Dr. Eades has presented is not a one-size-fits-all approach, but it is an approach that has been successful with those CrossFit athletes that have metabolic issues. CrossFit’s use of 40/30/30 is a starting point to find the optimal ratios for health and performance. It is that simple. What Dr. Eades has provided is a way for manipulate those ratios given certain health circumstances and the goal of improving them. Having an opposing viewpoint is completely acceptable, but could be expressed without tearing down another professional in the field. I also find it interesting that you would prescribe MOST CrossFit athletes 5-6g/kg of CHO per day. How is this different from saying that MOST CrossFit athletes SHOULD be eating a low CHO diet? In my opinion, both could work, likely depending on the individual, their goals, and the quality of the food.

Melissa, how can you use Rick Froning as an example here? Rich Froning’s training volume, goals, etc are completely different than the average CrossFit athlete. That would be like saying I should eat the same diet Michael Phelps ate because I am a recreational swimmer.  I actually see this comparison as a common problem when recommending nutrition to CrossFit athletes. We should not be making general recommendations based on what the CrossFit Games athletes eat. We should always be considering the history, current status, and goals of the athlete in front of us. What we will find is that one way of eating is not best for everyone. I also think we’ll find that there are some common characteristics of successful diets though, such as the avoidance of processed foods, and quantification (of some sort) when it comes to maximizing results.

I also find it interesting that you see a Paleo Challenge as anti-performance. Obviously, this would depend on the practitioner’s application of Paleo, but I have seen the exact opposite in others and in myself. The removal of processed foods, in exchange for whole and natural foods, has actually shown to improve athletic performance. 

As we move forward, I would like to invite both of you to a conversation about your views on Nutrition for the CrossFit athlete. You can email me at to start this conversation. 

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susan cooper
April 14th, 2022 at 12:26 am
Commented on: Nutrition as a Modifier in Health and Performance With Mary Dan Eades, M.D.

my colleague`s facebook account got hacked by a strange guy, She was redirected to a weird link while on her page and that's how her facebook and even her instagram account got compromised. strange things started happening to her account, and eventually she was locked out completely. She needed to gain back access because the account holds some important family memories. That was sad though.Good news she was lucky to find a private investigator (fixurworries AT doctor DOT com) who helped her regain back access after 48 hours.

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Parker Bondi
April 13th, 2022 at 2:07 am
Commented on: Nutrition as a Modifier in Health and Performance With Mary Dan Eades, M.D.

Hey Kelly and Melissa,

Interesting opinions. I read both of your posts 2x and besides the slander you are throwing at this lady and CrossFit, I believe you have a great point to say.

I think there is a good consensus out there that carbs are great for recovery after long endurance workouts, high volume training, (probably many more use cases too...) so I get your position of being alarmed with this.

Kelly, you said:

  • "unless you'd love to see your performance tank as well as ingest an overall low calorie diet that can lead to low energy availability".
  • She said at 23:24 if you are fatigued you should increase salt and potassium (starting with a suggestion to get those minerals naturally with olives or anchovies). What do you think about that? Do you think it could be better to have a low carbohydrate diet, supplement properly with salt and potassium and still have high levels of performance and high levels of energy availability? What about this protocol for elite CrossFitters or endurance athletes?
  • Your paper (PMID 30068354) does mention minerals as an important inorganic compound. It even mentions sodium and potassium.

I think your method of 8-12 g/kg is a very well studied and proven technique for optimal sports performance and elite training which is a huge part of CrossFit (Forging Elite Fitness). So I do think you have a point here. You also mention 5-6 g/kg per day which is fair. In my opinion, I think both of those are too high for most CrossFitters. I think both of those are appropriate for fit, competitive, and maybe metabolically flexible people. (I think these prescriptions apply to the top 10% of open competitors - the ones who qualified for quarterfinals). But what percentage of the total CrossFit community is that? 5%? 3%? Why do you feel like 5-6 or 8-12 g of carbs /kg of BW is a better solution than a low carb diet for most CrossFitters? I feel like the paper (PMID 30068354) applies to the quarterfinal athletes because it says at the start of the conclusion: "... enhance athletic performance and optimize training adaptations ...".

You mention that you want people to stop discussing hormones like they drive energy storage vs. energy utilization... I don't understand what you mean but I think you are talking about her example at 14:00 where she discusses a 'Large' Female, Older, Unfit who weighs 175lbs? She says this woman is likely insulin resistant, with chronically high insulin levels, and because she is consuming 117g of carbs per day her body is unable to access to her fat stores (because I assume her body is in storage mode). From my perspective essentially what she is saying is that this theoretical person is in for a hell of a hard battle against her weight-loss journey...

Honestly I would love to hear your thoughts.



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Chris Sinagoga
April 11th, 2022 at 6:05 pm
Commented on: Nutrition as a Modifier in Health and Performance With Mary Dan Eades, M.D.

Martej, Kelly, Melissa, Thomas, are we watching the same video? She is honest and up front with her conflicts of interest, and the only plugs I heard were at the very end about possibly including a supplement for potassium and subtle nods to Coach. Both I think are more than fair, especially since she declared her bias right off the rip. Also, her target audience is clearly someone either newer to CrossFit out just someone just getting interested in their health, not a CrossFit Games athlete. Who cares if she's an M.D., PhD, CF-L1, Registered Dietician, or a grade-school science teacher; she's preaching a good message. I guarantee a lot of our parents and grandparents would be better off right now if she was their doctor.

Also, I still follow the Zone diet (12 years in now). I've never heard Dr. Sears or Coach NOT mention that the 40-30-30 is just a starting point. They always say you have to tweak is based on 1) how hungry you are and 2) your performance.

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Thomas Eichholzer
April 11th, 2022 at 12:32 pm
Commented on: Nutrition as a Modifier in Health and Performance With Mary Dan Eades, M.D.

I said it before and I'll say it again; CrossFit needs to do better with such informations. I say this as a non-professional. I say this as a not-expert. I say this as an everday person who needs informations about nutrition. I love CrossFit and I blindely beliefed everything CF told me about nutrition, the metabolic syndrom etc. I still do think the recommandations are awesome (eat meat, veggies, nuts and seeds etc. eat to support performance not body fat). But it takes 5 minutes and you'll find studies that compaire high carb to low carb diets on both weight loss and saturation and so on. You'll find experts in nutrition that ridicules videos like these. I will not critizize points in this video, it's a great video. But as a consumer how should I proceed this if every expert on the planet will ridicule the idea of low carb, points out carb needs for performance and reminds of basic calorie in calorie out? I would highly agree if CF says low carb, intermitted fasting etc. are great tools for caloric restriction. and then proceeds with the right quality of foods. But no, here we go again.

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Melissa Ondesko
April 10th, 2022 at 6:00 pm
Commented on: Nutrition as a Modifier in Health and Performance With Mary Dan Eades, M.D.

As a second Registered Dietitan listening to this, the first thing that tipped me off was her interest in her own supplement company. I bet her supplements, along with a low carb diet, can help you to achieve whatever goals you have!!! I jest. Why don't we test her theory on one of the pros? Have someone like Rich Froning go on a low carb diet and see how his peformance goes. Actually, all we have to do is look back at when our gyms did the (cringe) paleo challenges or did cutting macros for the members and watch them fall apart and their performance go to pot. I have never and will never endorse any kind of diet challenge. It is anti-performance and performance is what CF is all about.

I am not as eloquent as my fellow dietitian who commented above, Kelly McKinnon, but everything she stated is the truth, and she is not selling any supplements. It may as well be Dr. Oz and his corporate sponsored raspberry ketones up there. Do better, Crossfit.

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Kelly McKinnon
April 10th, 2022 at 12:20 pm
Commented on: Nutrition as a Modifier in Health and Performance With Mary Dan Eades, M.D.

Can we please start getting REAL experts talking about nutrition topics, especially when related to optimal sports performance? Being a sports dietitian, I take huge offense to this and the information being presented in this presentation. If we need medical advice, turning to doctors is the first direction we go, but if we need nutrition advice, we need to turn to the experts in the field, aka registered dietitians. I would never dream of stepping in a doctor's lane and offering medical advice to my clients, so why is the same respect not given to myself and my fellow RDs?

I would never imagine putting a CrossFit athlete on a Zone or ketogenic diet, unless you'd love to see your performance tank as well as ingest an overall low calorie diet that can lead to low energy availability, which eventually leads to a whole host of other issues (improper recovery, increased risk for hormonal dysfunction, negative outcomes on bone health, etc.).

In fact, for most CrossFit athletes, carbohydrate recommendations should be 5-6 g/kg bodyweight PER DAY. For more serious and high intense training CrossFit athletes, I would even recommend anywhere from 8-12 g/kg bodyweight PER DAY, with needing to look even more closely at nutrient timing and intra-workout nutrition to support optimal performance (PMID 30068354).

Can we also please stop talking about hormones like they drive the energy storage vs. energy utilization topic OUT OF THE CONTEXT of overall calories expended and ingested throughout the day? I really am not sure how many times we have to talk about the fact that energy in versus energy out is what drives fat loss and fat gain. Yes, hormones are important and do help with us actually being able to utilize our food, but the repetitive talk about what happens ACUTELY in response to food ingestion versus what we see happen LONG-TERM (in the context of overall calories) tells a different story.

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Matej Fartelj
April 10th, 2022 at 5:22 am
Commented on: Nutrition as a Modifier in Health and Performance With Mary Dan Eades, M.D.

I had to stop watching. This is all old science. "We don't need carbo-hydrates"... OMG

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Kevin Pence
April 10th, 2022 at 5:08 am
Commented on: Nutrition as a Modifier in Health and Performance With Mary Dan Eades, M.D.

Wow! Great information!

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