Only three people in history have repeated as the Fittest Woman on Earth™ and Katrin Davidsdottir is one of them.
She only started CrossFit in 2011, but she had ten years of gymnastics training under her belt that formed a solid base of strength, coordination, and mobility — and just four years later, she won the Reebok CrossFit Games. In 2016 she won it again, and has placed in the top 5 every year since.
Adee Cazayoux is the CEO and founder of the nutrition coaching company WAG (it stands for Working Against Gravity) and she works with many CrossFit® athletes like Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, Brooke Wells, Cole Sager, and Brooke Ence.
Adee has been working really closely with Katrin since 2016 to help her build a diet that’s right for her, and we interviewed her to learn everything we could about how Katrin structures her diet: calories, macros, carbohydrate structuring, how to drink alcohol, and a lot more.
Here’s what we learned.
Katrin Davidsdottir’s Calories
No matter how you cut it, calories are king and if you want to be a good athlete, you need to have at least a rough idea of how many calories you’re consuming. Here are Katrin’s stats:
- Height: 5’7″
- Weight: 155lb
- Calories: 2,500 to 3,200 per day
“It definitely ranges throughout the season,” says Adee. “It depends what time of year it is and how flexible we are at hitting a certain number of calories. It’ll range from 2,500 to as high as 3,200 depending on how close we are to the Games, what training is looking like, how she’s recovering, and what her bodyweight is.”
We’ve heard similar things from other big name CrossFit athletes like Mat Fraser and Tia-Clair Toomey (click those links to watch their own nutrition interviews): as the season progresses and training becomes more frequent, calories increase to accommodate the extra energy being burned.
“(But) CrossFit is a unique sport where how much you weigh impacts a lot of athletes,” adds Adee. “How they feel, or how their gymnastics feel, or how much weight they can lift, and all those different things are affected. So the balance of not being so heavy your gymnastics suffer or being so light that your weightlifting starts to suffer (is a challenge).”
Katrin Davidsdottir’s Macronutrients
This precise makeup varies based on her activity level and her lifestyle — remember that WAG is a coaching service that emphasizes flexibility, so it’s not a huge deal if she goes out to dinner and the macros wind up less precise — but Katrin’s macronutrients typically look something like this:
Protein: 1 gram per pound of bodyweight
Fat: 25 to 30 percent of her calories (usually 25 percent)
Carbs: The rest of her calories
That might have been organized a little confusingly, so here’s what that looks like on a 3,200-calorie day.
- Calories: 3,200
- Protein: 150 grams (600 calories)
- Fat: 89 grams (800 calories)
- Carbs: 450 grams (1,800 calories)
So more than half of Katrin’s calories come from carbohydrates.
This was a big learning point for Katrin, who came up in the sport during the olden days when Paleo and low carb diets were more in vogue. She talks about switching to higher carbs in this video from WAG at the 2.50 mark.
“I was definitely afraid of carbs. Like, I was sure if I was eating carbs, I would gain weight. I wouldn’t eat carbs. Imagine being in this sport, so much intensity, and I wasn’t eating carbs! That’s what we use, and I wasn’t giving my body any of them. (…)
I felt like (Adee) was giving me so many carbs. I was like, ‘I’m going to gain weight.’ And she said, ‘Just wait and see.’ I ended up leaning out a lot, and gaining strength, and just generally feeling better. (…) But she did take a lot of fat away from me.”
[Related: How much protein do we really need in a day?]
The 3 Types of Carbs
Similar to CrossFit legend Rich Froning — and if you like this article, you’ve got to check out our piece on Rich Froning’s diet — Katrin uses different types of carbs at different times. That looks like this:
- During a workout: Liquid carbohydrates, like juice or Gatorade. (Katrin herself uses a liquid carb supplement.) With no fiber, fat, or protein to slow digestion, the sugar can be quickly absorbed to provide fast energy.
- Shortly before or after a workout: High glycemic carbohydrates. Katrin’s favorite is raisins, but others might use cereal, Fig Newtons, rice cakes, white bread with jam — anything that’s high in sugar and low in fiber.
- The rest of the time: More fibrous, less starchy carbs. Whole grains, legumes, oatmeal, that kind of thing. These carbs digest much more slowly than the other two and as a result they’re more filling and they have less of an impact on blood sugar. (Sugar rushes can be great around a workout, not so much at other times.)
How Strict Is This Diet?
Katrin’s diet both is and is not “strict.” By that we mean, provided the protein and the total calories are roughly on point, Adee doesn’t mind too much if the carbs and fat are toggled a little if she goes out to eat. It’s hard, after all, to stay low fat when you’re eating out, but you also don’t want to forbid your clients from eating out. That’ll lead to diet exhaustion, and the best diet in the world isn’t worth much if nobody can stick to it.
In fact, Adee even allows alcohol in Katrin’s macros.
“The workaround is taking the total calories and dividing by nine or four or a mixture of the two — if you divide by nine it would be fat, if you divide by four, you count it as carbohydrates,” she says. “We just don’t let people not eat protein instead of wine, because everyone would do that!”
Total calories and protein seem to be the most important things, here.
[Different strokes: Check out Olympic weightlifting champion Katherine Nye’s discussion on her diet!]
A Creature of Habit
While there’s room for flexibility, and while her diet will change a bit depending on where she is in the Games season, Katrin likes her diet to be somewhat routine. If you follow her Instagram, you’ll see she often eats the same meals.
“She loves oatmeal concoctions in the morning, she often makes an egg and cabbage slaw, different type of vegetable scramble types things, she loves burritos, different types of bowls, poke bowls,” Adee says. “Katrin is definitely one of these people who loves to eat really, really nutritious food. Lots of what people call whole foods; minimally processed foods.”
While we’re talking about her love of consistency, it’s worth noting that unlike a lot of athletes, Katrin doesn’t like to cycle carbohydrates. That’s a term that usually means increasing carbs around workouts.
“For Katrin, specifically, she thrives when things are similar or in more of a routine, so having a day where she’s eating an excess of carbohydrates doesn’t feel good for her, she doesn’t perform better, it doesn’t work that well for her,” says Adee. “So while in an athlete like Brooke Wells, for instance, before she competes I would definitely increase her carbohydrates in the days before and the days she’s competing, Katrin thrives more with things being more the same.”
[Related: Our complete guide to carb cycling for athletes]
This quote from her coach Ben Bergeron, taken from the WAG video above, encapsulates it:
When she won the Games, we went out to dinner, it was some big celebratory thing. She ate fish and vegetables. That was her celebratory meal after winning the CrossFit Games.
Adee said this a lot during our interview, and we really have to make it clear: different things work for different people.
The way Brooke Wells and Cole Sager and everyone else eats are all different. Here, we’re talking about what Katrin Davidsdottir likes and the way she’s individualized her own diet, and that is:
- 2,500 to 3,200 calories per day
- 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight
- 2 to 3 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight, depending on total calories
- About 0.5 to 0.6 grams of fat per pound of bodyweight, roughly 25 percent of her calories
- The vast majority of food comes from whole foods. (No food limits are off limits, but refined sugars and refined grains really are minimized.)
- The carbs and fat can be toggled if you’re eating out, or even enjoying a little alcohol.
And consistency is the key here. Calories might decrease on rest days, but generally, the rough percentage of protein carbs and fat stays the same, she likes the same meals, and she has a big emphasis on nutritious whole foods. Some athletes will happily eat a pint of ice cream every night to get their calories in, but Katrin Davidsdottir… she likes to eat healthy.
Featured image via @katrintanja on Instagram.