The CrossFit Open is the first stage of competition of the CrossFit season. Athletes around the world will tackle three workouts over three weeks regardless of ability level or experience.
What and how you eat during the three-week competition will play an important role in your performance, so we spoke to Dr Mike Molloy, founder of M2 Performance Nutrition and nutrition coach to over 40 CrossFit Games athletes, to bring you his five expert tips on how to best approach your nutrition during the CrossFit Open.
1. Your Nutrition Plan for Each Open Workout Starts the Day Before
Make sure you eat to support your performance the day before the workout, as well as on the day.
It takes over 24 hours to replenish the glycogen stores in your muscles, which will be invaluable during the intense Open workouts. To make sure you’re topped off, make sure you eat enough the day before the workout (even if you’re taking a full rest day), as well as on the day.
“Make sure that you have three really solid meals full of high quality foods, that you’re well hydrated, and that you’re getting to sleep at a reasonable hour so that you have plenty of time in bed,” says Dr Molloy.
2. Consume Easily Digestible Foods on Game Day
Not many things are as unpleasant as seeing your meals a second time. The day of your Open workout eat food that is easily digestible and have your last meal at least two hours before the start.
Mental stress can slow your digestive track down, so if you typically feel stressed around the Open give yourself a little bit more time to digest than normal.
Easily digestible foods include:
- Mashed sweet potatoes
- Rice cakes
- White rice
Consume foods that are “already processed to a point where your body is going to digest, break them down and absorb them relatively easily,” says Dr Molloy.
3. Don’t Try Anything New Before or After Your Workout
This point might be glaringly obvious for some, but many athletes can be tempted when their friend offers them their magic pre-workout. If you’re not used to taking pre-workout now is not the right time to start.
In fact, it’s a terrible idea.
The same applies to caffeine if you’re not used to drinking coffee or tea before a workout or having breakfast if you usually train in a fasted state. You’ll inevitably end up feeling horrible, so don’t try anything new on game day.
Me: 5:30am CrossFit is too early!
Coach: You seem wide awake.
Me: I should. I've had 2 cups of coffee and a preworkout.
Coach: Oh! You gonna be ok?
Me: Probably not.
— MAKEWODSGREATAGAIN ™ (@MWGA_official) January 5, 2021
4. Stick to Your Routine Throughout the Open
Approach the Open week like you would any other week and don’t make big changes to your usual routines.
“People get themselves so wrapped up in these workouts that they completely change everything about their lives for two workouts a week,” says Dr Molloy. “In that lack of routine everything feels foreign: they don’t know how to eat, they don’t know how to sleep, they don’t know how to warm up, they don’t know how to cool down.
“I’ve found that the athletes that do the best and meet or exceed their expectations typically just stick to their routine on the other days. They’ll go to the gym, they’ll workout, they’ll eat the same, they’ll recover the same. They just don’t worry about lifting the most weight on their back squat or going as fast as possible on their 5k run, they just get the work done.”
Throughout the three weeks of the CrossFit Open, train as you’re used to but bring the intensity down a bit. Sticking to your routine can bring the stress of the Open down, which can help you perform, sleep better and experience your usual appetite.
5. Take Care of Your Gut Health
Your gut health can affect your brain, so having GI issues or inflammation has been shown to potentially cause stress, feelings of depression, lack of motivation and withdrawal.
“The simplest thing that you can do for your gut health is to eat real foods,” says Dr Molloy. “Avoid hyper-processed stuff and anything you know causes you to have bloating or indigestion. If you do that, you’re going to put yourself in a situation of decreased inflammation and perhaps improve your mindset a little bit so that you don’t have extra stress coming from inside your body.”
All of this can have a positive impact on your mindset and your overall mood.
By taking care of your gut health you can eliminate additional stress coming from within your body during the CrossFit Open.