The season of the CrossFit Open is upon us! We all approach the open with great anticipation and planning around strategy, movement timing, rest between movements and how to maximize our efficiency with movements that might be a bit harder.
We focus so much attention on the actual workout and with good reason. What we sometimes forget is that much of our success (or failure) with the WOD is actually not about the actual WOD at all, but what we are feeding our bodies with before and after.
Nutrition is something that you should consider thinking about all year long but it can be especially critical as we approach this competition season. Take this year’s open as the perfect opportunity to start thinking about your food as fuel and how you can optimize your nutrition to optimize your performance.
What exactly does this mean?
It can mean different things for different people. Food choices are just as important as food timing and how your body responds to certain foods is different for everyone. However, there are a few simple guidelines that will work for most people and are pretty simple to build into your weeks leading into and during the Open.
Pre-workout time is considered to be anywhere from three hours to about 30 minutes before your workout. The primary purpose of your pre-workout meal is to fuel your training. This is the optimal time to consume some carbohydrates and if you can top off your glycogen stores with some higher glycemic carbs this can allow higher intensity output. For all you white rice and sweet potato fans this is a great time to eat these foods.
Here are a few other options for your pre-workout nutrition:
- One to two hours before your workout consume a meal with protein and carbs and very little fat. Fats can slow down absorption of nutrients and digestion and can make you feel full which you don’t want as you get ready to pick up a barbell or kip on the rig.
- Some examples of some good carbohydrate and protein combinations are; rice and chicken, sweet potatoes and chicken, egg whites and rice, potatoes and egg whites, rice cakes and sliced turkey.
- Keep pre-workout meal sizes relatively small. Think ¼ cup – ½ cup of a carb source and about 2-3 ounces of protein.
- Focus on quick digestible carbs and whole foods. This is not always the best time for protein shakes or protein and carb powders. Liquids are digested within 30 – 60 minutes and so they may not provide the fuel you really need.
The goal of this meal is to calm the stress response from training and start the recovery process. This is a great time for some more of those carbohydrates as your body is primed to use them to restore glycogen and not store them as body fat.
Here are some options for Post Workout nutrition:
- For the average person you want to think 25g of carbs and 25g of protein. This is a great time for a whey protein shake and a post-workout carb source/powder that includes highly branched cyclic dextrin.
- It is recommended avoiding fats in your post-workout meal to prevent delayed digestion and any GI upset.
- Another great option is a protein shake with a fruit squeeze or protein shake that includes sweet potatoes and maybe some berries and greens.
- If you are able to consume a meal right after your workout you want to consume easily digestible protein and carbohydrates such as chicken, egg whites, rice and potatoes.
This is very individualized and some people prefer training fasted and if it is working for you – keep doing it! If the Open workout is a gymnastics style workout, training fasted might be an advantage but if the workout is strength based you might want to consider being fully fueled beforehand. If you prefer to train fasted, try some BCAAs or EAAs pre-workout. Your post-workout nutrition will be even more important if you are working out fasted so definitely focus on consuming something immediately after
If you are an early morning warrior who does not perform well with food before your workout, consider loading up on carbs the night before. They can serve as your pre-workout and help fuel you through your early morning session.
A Few Other Things To Consider
- The Open is not the time to try new foods or pre-workout supplements. Stick with foods that you know your body responds well to and are easily digestible. If you have never really paid much attention to your pre and post workout nutrition before, spend the first part of this week experimenting. Try out a few different options and pay close attention to how you are feeling to evaluate what does and does not work for you.
- How you perform in the Open (and quite frankly in CrossFit throughout the year) definitely has a lot to do with consistent training and nutrition throughout the year BUT it also has a lot to do with other factors such as sleep, recovery and stress. The best way to prepare for an Open workout is to make sure you are getting at least 7 hours of sleep in the nights leading up to the workout and that you have taken some time for your body to rest and recover earlier in the week. If you are under extra stress in the weeks leading up to or during the Open it will be even more important for you to focus on proper nutrition, rest and recovery.
- CrossFit is an incredibly demanding sport and taxing on the body. The CrossFit Open is a great opportunity to test what you have been working on all year and step outside of your comfort zone. The Open can be nerve wracking to prepare for because you have to be ready for whatever goes up on the whiteboard. The programmed workout is out of your control – that is part of the fun of being in the Open. What you can control is your nutrition going into the workout. Using your food as fuel can ensure that you are consistently prepared and ready to give each workout your personal best.
Are you unsure about the best pre and post workout fuel for you? Want to talk through your nutrition strategy a little bit?
Reach out to me!
I would love to schedule a time to talk with you and make sure that you have a good nutrition strategy in place so that you can CRUSH the Open.