Take a look at the top CrossFit athletes of the last dozen years, and it’s hard not to notice that every single CrossFit Games podium has been swept by white men (see: Rich Froning, Mat Fraser). Chandler Smith, an Army veteran and Black athlete, wants to change that. He placed sixth at the 2020 CrossFit Games (an effort that included a 615-pound deadlift), and is now working with the sought-after coach Ben Bergeron to take his already-intense training to the next level.
“Being a competitive athlete in this space is very important to me,” he said. “I recognize that if I wasn’t not doing it, then there might not be a voice for promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion within CrossFit. I am uniquely qualified to talk to a large group of people, and that’s what gets me going every day.”
GQ recently caught up with the Puma-sponsored athlete to learn more about what he eats in a typical day (or maybe more of what he doesn’t eat), just how much goes into performing at this high of a level, and his go-to sneaker for almost every workout.
GQ: How do your mornings start?
Chandler Smith: Most days I’m up at 7:30. The exceptions for that are on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I’ll wake up 6:45 because I go swimming in the mornings on those days. I’ll do those swimming sessions fasted, but on the other days the first thing I do is work to get breakfast started. Or, I say work, but that’s a gross exaggeration: I make a bagel and eggs. Then the next thing I eat will be a carbohydrate source during the middle of my first workout session.
How long is the first workout?
The first workout session is normally from 9 to 11:00 or 11:30. So during that I’ll have either a carbohydrate powder—I’ve been using one from Karbolyn—or apple sauce, just in an effort to keep the energy levels up and myself fueled for the afternoon session. After that, I’ll shake up some protein powder or have some beef jerky depending on what I’m feeling.
Will you eat lunch between the two, or that’s it?
Lunch is definitely a thing. It rotates between ground beef, rice, and Brussels sprouts, or something like chicken and potatoes with mixed frozen veggies. It’s not a lot of variety, but it’s enough to keep me interested.
Once I’m home from the second training session I’ll look for some more carbs, really whatever’s around the house. Last week it was mango sorbet. I know this makes me sound boring, but then dinner is whatever I didn’t have for lunch. I make a lot of salmon and rice. I also have a turkey burger recipe that’s great.
I normally have yogurt before bed.
Barely counts! It sounds like you’re pretty diligent with what you put in your body—which isn’t surprising considering your physique.
The funny part is that I didn’t really focus on my nutrition before moving to Boston. I came here to visit in the summer of 2020 and trained with a bunch of athletes. During that time, I was like, Man, this is the healthiest I’ve eaten in a good long while. And everyone around me was pretty surprised that I was a pro athlete but not really focused on my diet. Before, I was eating a lot of fast food, which calorically speaking, I was able to justify. I remember there was one time that I bought seven pints of Ben and Jerry’s because they were half price at the grocery store, and my roommate was like “that’s just not going to fly anymore.”