There is no better time to focus on your pre-game nutrition than during the CrossFit Open, so this Crossfitter’s guide to nutrition is here to help. During these five weeks (as well as the other 47 weeks of the year) it is key to remember that food is your fuel and the wrong foods are ticking time bombs. Eating the right foods will increase your recovery and improve your performance. The wrong foods can cause you to struggle with performance, increase soreness, and you probably won’t have as much fun during the Open Workouts either!
During these five weeks it is especially beneficial to eliminate all sugar, eliminate alcohol, increase your fruits and vegetable intake, and perhaps supplement some starchier carbs in moderation such as white rice, sweet potatoes, and oats. Clean forms of protein such as eggs, steak, beef, fish, chicken, and natural peanut butter should be easily accessible in your fridge. Additionally, this is a key time to jump on the coconut oil train. Coconut oil is an excellent fuel source as the fat is converted by the liver into an immediate energy source.
GUIDE TO NUTRITION – TIMING IS KEY
It’s not just what you eat during the CrossFit Open, it’s when you eat that is also a key factor.
- Every competitor should eat no less than 30-45 minutes before each event, ideally 1-3 hours prior.
- Competition days are a good day to increase your carbs to replenish muscle and liver glycogen.
- On days you’re not competing it is wise to increase your fats to help with cellular regeneration and increase recovery time.
POST WORKOUT NUTRITION
Post WOD there is a 15-minute window for peak protein absorption. In these 15 minutes an individual should be consuming between 25-40 grams of protein. There is also a certain amount of carbs one should consume post-workout based on the duration of the workout. If you are active for 4-8 minutes, an individual should consume between 20-30g of carbohydrates, 8-12 minutes leads to 30-40g of carbs, and 12+ minutes should be followed by 30+ grams of carbs.
Post-workout shakes are a great way to make sure you’re getting your protein and carbs in following a workout. Adding a banana and sweet potato (even in the form of baby food) to a protein shake is a great way to cover all your bases. While this might not sound appealing at first, it is worth a try before completely ruling it out.
HOW TO EAT ON DAYS YOU AREN’T COMPETING
During the five weeks of the CrossFit Open it’s important that even on days you’re not competing that you’re fueling your body properly with good food choices. Make sure you’re always consuming protein at breakfast, and make sure every meal has a source of protein, fats, and carbohydrates. If you’re a vegetarian make sure you’re eating a quality animal protein such as eggs, and if you’re a vegan you need a quality protein such as nuts, nut butter, chia/hemp/flax seeds, beans/legumes.
If you’re not consuming quality protein sources, you will not reap the benefits.
This is also a great time to practice meal prep! If you’re going to properly fuel your body, then meal prep is incredibly beneficial (and saves money). Pack your meals when you leave the house, eat leftovers, and don’t be afraid to try new foods. Foods such as chia seed pudding, avocado chocolate pudding, and protein oatmeal are great examples of new things to try.
If you’re so inclined, the Open is a great time to add some supplements to your diet as well. A quality fish oil (minimum 1000mg daily) is a great place to start. EPA and DHA can help you build muscle, support a healthy blood flow, and possibly increase exercise performance. Fish oil can also improve overall body composition and provide more fuel to your muscles during workouts.
Branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) would be something else to explore at this time if you’re not already taking them! BCAAs reduce the rate of protein breakdown, increase protein synthesis, and help improve workout intensity allowing you to work harder for a longer period. Increasing synthesis and decreasing breakdown will equate to muscle gain or maintenance. BCAAs can be consumed in a powder or capsule form and can be found in most health food stores or on health food websites.
FEED YOURSELF FOR PERFORMANCE
The fact of the matter is this; you should be eating food to fuel your body daily. There is no better time to really zone in on your food choices than the five weeks that make up the CrossFit Open. It allows you to establish new eating habits, try new things, and see how your body performs when pushed to its limits. If you’re already a clean eater this is a great time to focus on your macros and how they affect your performance; do they need tweaking and how are you recovering? Fueling your body with food is one of the most beneficial and rewarding things any competitor can do. If you’re competing in the Open for fun or as a serious competitor, this is a great time to eat clean, incorporate new foods into your diet, and be amazed at what your body can accomplish!