Successful athletes often follow extreme diets. Because of their commitment to training and competition, many obsess over what they eat. After all, fueling lengthy workouts and then recovering after is not easy, and, as the saying goes, you are what you eat.
CrossFitters are amongst the most dogmatic dieters, with many following Paleo, vegan, or the CrossFit-approved Zone Diet. Some CrossFit athletes are also fans of keto.
It’s surprising then that the Mat Fraser CrossFit diet is not as strict or detailed as you’d expect from the fittest man in the world. In fact, as diets go, Fraser keeps things very simple.
That doesn’t mean that nutrition isn’t important to Mat Fraser – it is. It’s just that he believes in a flexible approach to nutrition, which is based on how he’s feeling, training, and performing. He even eats junk food!
And while such an approach flies in the face of many sports nutrition dietary guidelines, it clearly works for Fraser. After all, he’s won the CrossFit Games five times in a row – 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.
The Mat Fraser Diet
A former Olympic weightlifter, Fraser has been a dominating force in CrossFit for over half a decade, and at just 31, he still has plenty more to give. In this article, we reveal how he fuels his workouts.
Training for CrossFit is a full-time job for Mat Fraser. He trains up to six hours a day, and that level of activity requires a lot of energy. Interestingly,
Fraser does not count calories and just adjusts his food intake according to his activity levels. He eats more when he’s ramping up to a big competition and less during the off-season when he’s training less.
Nutrition experts estimate that Mat Fraser consumes 6-7,000 calories per day during intense periods of training and 3-4,000 calories those periods when he is less active. Fraser manipulates his calorie intuitively by eating more or fewer meals, adjusting portion sizes, and regulating the amount of junk food he eats.
While other CrossFitters are busy tracking their macros, the collective term for protein, carbs, and fat, Mat Fraser rarely does so. Instead, he ensures that most of his meals are balanced, which he does mainly by looking at what’s on his plate.
For example, the main meal might contain meat for protein, white rice for carbs, and 2-3 different vegetables for fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This approach is VERY different from that of fellow CrossFitter Rich Froning, who weighs and measures everything he eats.
Despite being a professional athlete, Mat Fraser used to be known for the prodigious amount of junk food he ate. That all changed in 2015 when he realized he wasn’t as lean as he could be, and that extra weight was holding him back.
In his early CrossFit career, Fraser found bodyweight and gymnastic movements incredibly taxing. Losing weight helped him to up his game in these essential CrossFit disciplines. He also had nagging joint inflammation, which he realized could be due to his unhealthy diet.
How unhealthy was his diet?
Fraser was known to eat a pint of ice cream every night and eat a lot of take-out food.
Now, his diet is much cleaner, and most of his meals are prepared for him by his fiancé Sammy Moniz.
He still eats junk food – it’s hard to eat clean 100% of the time when you’re trying to put away 7,000 calories in a day – but Fraser now limits himself to occasional Hershey’s chocolate bars when he’s craving a sugary snack.
Eating 7,000 calories in just 2-3 meals is impractical. Such large meals would be hard to digest and would undoubtedly interfere with training. Instead, Mat Fraser eats 4-6 meals a day, usually geared toward energizing him before and boosting recovery after exercise.
He starts every day with breakfast before hitting the gym for his first workout of the day. He then eats again after training to put back in what his workout took out. Lunch usually precedes another workout, so dinner is another post-training meal. Add in a couple of snacks, and it’s easy to see how Fraser clocks up six meals a day.
Now that Moniz makes his meals, Fraser usually eats almost immediately after training and typically within 10-15 minutes. He feels this gives him an edge for recovery.
CrossFit athletes undergo rigorous drug testing. That means Fraser must be cautious about what supplements he takes. A failed drug test could end his career and the lucrative sponsorship deals that make up most of his income.
Like his diet, Fraser’s approach to supplements is very uncomplicated. Currently, he uses:
Whey protein – to ensure he’s getting enough whey protein per day for optimal recovery.
Branch Chain Amino Acids – to provide his muscles with more of the building blocks needed for repair and growth. These are often consumed during training to ward off fatigue.
Pre-workout – to increase energy and focus before big workouts.
CBD oil – for its anti-inflammatory and relaxing, calming effects.
Mat Fraser’s diet is very varied, and that variety ensures he keeps all his nutritional bases covered. There really is no Mat Fraser diet template or plan to follow. That said, this is a typical day of eating for the fittest man in the world:
Breakfast: Bacon, eggs, and oatmeal with coffee.
Lunch: Sandwich, fruit, protein shake.
Dinner: Beef tacos, rice, vegetables, and dessert.
Snacks: ½ milk chocolate Hershey Bar, smoothies, and nuts/seeds.
While Fraser is a fairly equal-opportunities eater, he doesn’t tend to consume a lot of:
- Processed food
- Foods with artificial ingredients
- Baked goods, i.e., donuts
By his own admission, Fraser is quite sensitive to the effects of stimulants, so he doesn’t take a pre-workout before his afternoon training session and also avoids coffee after 1-2pm.
Because recovery is so important, Fraser also makes sure he gets about ten hours of sleep per night. CrossFit training is a full-time job!
Mat Fraser’s approach to nutrition is not for everyone. It’s very unregimented and is based mainly on how he feels and what he thinks he needs to fuel his performance.
He’s very in touch with his nutritional needs and has an innate ability to identify what he needs to eat and when. In contrast, a lot of other athletes follow a much more precise, structured diet.
The thing is, despite its lack of structure, Fraser’s diet clearly works for him. After all, he’s won five straight CrossFit Games, leaving athletes with more regimented diets in his wake.
Does that mean everyone should eat like Mat Fraser? Possibly, but only if you are self-aware enough to adjust your food intake according to your needs rather than your wants. Fraser himself discovered that you can’t out-train an unhealthy diet, and that’s why he ditched his infamous pint of ice cream a day habit.
Remember, too, that six hours of training a day buys you a lot of dietary latitude. If you aren’t training as hard or as long, you don’t need 7,000 calories per day.
If Mat Fraser’s diet teaches us anything, it is that sports nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective.