After college, Rich Borgatti immersed himself in the tech industry, initiating a desk-and-computer fitness slide that sent him further away from the days when he ran track and cross country in high school. The accumulating loss of health and fitness led to a mid-twenties freak out. To break the pattern, Borgatti literally leaped into the martial arts world.
The path into martial arts led to gym workouts, which led to kettlebells and sandbags, which led to CrossFit in 2008. His discovery of high-intensity interval training had a powerful effect: Borgatti would open his own CrossFit box, Mountain Strength CrossFit, where yet another twist in his journey would take place: He would discover Spartan racing and become one of OCR’s earliest specialists, between racing and coaching others to race. A Spartan SGX Coach (level 1 and 2), he is now the author of Epic Race Training, and his contributions to the world of Spartan showcase his exceptional knowledge of obstacle mastery.
A Nutritional Journey Leading to Simple, Potent Truths
Borgatti’s experiments with popular performance diets are not uncommon in the OCR world, testing out approaches like Paleo, Zone, keto, and so forth.
“In the past, I have gone through all of them,” he says, noting that a three-year stint with Paleo was his longest.
However, he currently doesn't follow a name-kind of diet. Rather, Borgatti’s approach to nutrition is hinged on what he’s learned over the years about macronutrients — protein, carbs, and fats — and the percentages of each that he likes to build into a meal or snack.
“It took many years of experimenting with all different kinds [of nutritional approaches] to find what was best for me,” he says. “It’s changed as I have gotten older, but. figuring out my macros was key.”
Protein: The Cornerstone Macro
For Borgatti, one of the most important pieces of the nutrition puzzle has become zeroing in on the right amount of protein he eats. Figuring out this variable is foundational in his coaching of others.
A team of researchers supports Borgatti’s focus with a conclusion from their review.
“Protein is a nutrient deserving of focus, because it is a macronutrient that has the most pronounced thermogenic and satiating effects, and the most promising nutrient to help preserve lean body mass,” the review reads.
In other words, dialing in your protein requirement (typically based on factors such as amount of lean muscle mass, activity level, volume, and intensity of exercise) has a number of effects on hormones, metabolism, cravings, energy levels, and simply how well (or poorly) you feel.
Low-Hanging Fruit for Health and Performance
In recent years, one of the most profound and impactful changes that Borgatti has made to his own nutrition was cutting down on alcohol.
“About six or seven years ago, I got into craft beers and IPAs," he explains. "At the time, I was running a large number of miles per week and racing in Spartan events.”
After races, Borgatti’s social time included plenty of craft beer.
“Slowly, I noticed that all of my joints were aching and that I had gained a significant amount of weight despite running and working out a lot," he says. "It wasn't until the COVID lockdowns that I realized it was causing me lots of pain. Once I cut it all out, it took about three months before I started feeling better — before the gut inflammation went down.”
A Single Change With Multiple Benefits
Borgatti’s connecting the dots of beer and inflammation (and subsequently cutting down on alcohol) shows how a single fix can produce dramatic improvements. In one year, he dropped considerable excess fat, added muscle, and improved his sleep quality.
“I am happy to say that I reduced my weight by 20 pounds over the last year and my joints feel good again,” he says.
Related: Just How Bad Is Alcohol for Your Health?
The following is a snapshot of Borgatti’s daily nutrition routine. Note how it’s customized to fit the schedule of someone who is doing a lot of coaching, running his own business, and also fitting in his own OCR training.
Eat Like Rich Borgatti for a Week
Pre-Morning Workout: No Frills
Breakfast: Satiation Strategy
— 2 mini-bagels
— Almond butter
“This is a strategic caloric and carb overload,” Borgatti says. “I am often coaching at the gym for four or five hours without a chance to eat, so this keeps me pretty full and high on energy.”
Morning Snack: Quick Fat and Sugar Intake
— Chocolate (sometimes)
“My snack is usually a serving of almonds, and it sometimes includes chocolate with almonds to keep my sugar levels up,” he says.
Lunch: Green Machine
- Greek salad
- Chicken or steak
“I try to eat most of my greens at lunch, and it's usually a Greek salad with chicken or steak,” Borgatti says.
Afternoon Snack: Smoothie
— Fuel for Fire smoothie
“I love the chocolate ones!” he says.
Borgatti’s daily nutritional approach shows how you don’t need to be imprisoned in a kitchen all day cooking up diet-specific meals. His eating plan allows him to focus on coaching and managing his gym while still staying on track. Fuel for Fire smoothies make the afternoon snack a simple grab: low-stress but in sync with his macronutrient targets.
— Protein (chicken and steak)
— Starchy carbs
“I like to stick to just protein and carbs for dinner and limit the fat a bit,” he says. “I know my macros, and from years of weighing and measuring my food, I know what my portion sizes should be. I also usually have water or a 7.5-ounce can of ginger ale.”
Borgatti adds the emphasis on starchy carbs — rice is a good example — promotes a distinct benefit:
“The carbs help me sleep better,” he says.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported the same observation: Consuming a high-glycemic meal about four hours before bed sped up the onset of sleep (as compared to subjects who ate a low-glycemic meal).
“Usually nothing,” Borgatti says.
That is, of course, except for water and the occasional weekend dose of ice cream.