CrossFit is an intense and demanding fitness regime that requires a lot of energy and stamina. As a CrossFitter, you need to fuel your body with the right nutrients to perform at your best and recover quickly after a tough workout.
While most people know that nutrition is essential for overall health and fitness, advanced CrossFitters understand that their nutrition plan needs to be specific and tailored to their needs.
In this article, we'll explore the best nutrition strategies to fuel your body for peak performance in CrossFit workouts. From pre-workout meals to post-workout recovery, we'll cover everything you need to know to optimise your nutrition and take your CrossFit game to new heights. So, get ready to take notes and transform your nutrition game!
Maximizing Your WOD: CrossFit Pre-Workout Nutrition
As a CrossFitter, you probably already know that nutrition plays a critical role in optimizing your performance. But did you know that what you eat before your workout can have a major impact on your results?
Pre-workout nutrition is important for supplying your body with the energy and nutrients it requires to perform at its best.
To maximize your performance during a CrossFit workout, it's essential to include a balance of macronutrients in your pre-workout meal. This typically includes protein, carbs, and fats, which all play a crucial role in fueling your body and supporting optimal performance.
When it comes to ratios, there's no one-size-fits-all approach. However, a general rule of thumb is to aim for a pre-workout meal that provides about:
1-2 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight,
0.15-0.25 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight,
moderate amount of healthy fats
Examples Of CrossFit Pre-Workout Meals Or Snacks
Below are some examples of pre-workout meals or snacks that fit the bill:
Grilled chicken breast with sweet potato and a side of veggies.
Oatmeal with sliced banana and almond butter.
Greek yogurt with berries and granola.
Protein smoothie with banana, spinach, almond milk, and protein powder.
Remember, the key to pre-workout nutrition is to provide sustained energy throughout your workout. So, avoid heavy meals or foods that may cause digestive discomfort, and be sure to hydrate properly as well!
Fueling Your Recovery: What To Eat & Drink After A CrossFit Workout
After a grueling CrossFit workout, your muscles need time to recover and repair. That's where recovery nutrition comes in - the right post-workout meal helps your muscles heal faster and reload your glycogen stores so you're ready to tackle your next workout.
Role Of Post-Workout Nutrition
When you work out, your muscles use up stored glycogen as fuel. After your workout, your body needs to replenish those glycogen stores to prepare for your next workout. Consuming carbohydrates after your workout can help replenish those glycogen stores more quickly. This is often why you see professional athletes eating gummy bears & other soft lollies immediately after a workout.
But that's not all - protein is also crucial for recovery. During exercise, your muscles experience tiny tears and damage. Protein is necessary to repair and rebuild those muscles. By consuming protein after your workout, you're helping your body heal and recover faster.
Examples Of CrossFit Post-Workout Meals Or Snacks
So, what should you eat after your CrossFit workout? A combination of protein and carbohydrates is your best bet. Here are some examples of post-workout meals or snacks that will provide the necessary nutrients for optimal recovery:
Beef or chicken chili with sweet potato or quinoa.
Protein shake with banana and peanut butter.
Turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread with avocado and veggies.
Baked salmon with sweet potato and asparagus.
For more inspiration on CrossFit meals, check out the CrossFit at home meals page.
When possible, try to consume your post-workout meal or snack within 30 minutes to an hour after your workout. This is when your muscles are most receptive to the nutrients and when you'll get the most benefit.
Note - if you are planning on completing multiple workouts in the same day, it’s critical that you eat as much and as frequently as possible in between workouts. The quality of the food does not matter as much as the quantity of the food; you want to be able to replenish your glycogen stores as quickly as possible, ensuring you can perform at peak levels.
In addition to the above, make sure you remain hydrated! Whilst you can try to use hydration as a way to replenish your electrolytes & other nutrients, this should be a secondary focus. Make sure you are consuming enough water before you consider any other forms of hydration.
Fueling Your Performance: Advanced Nutrition Strategies For CrossFit Success
Now that you have a good understanding of nutrition basics, (such as maintaining a balanced diet and staying hydrated), you need to begin thinking about more advanced nutrition strategies to achieve your CrossFit goals.
Below, we've listed some common questions we receive about CrossFit nutrition.
When & how frequently should I eat when doing CrossFit?
Nutrient timing is quite important if you want to become a professional CrossFit athlete. For instance, consuming carbohydrates before and after a workout can help improve performance and recovery. Protein should also be consumed after a workout to help repair and build muscle.
Here are 5 tips to help you with your CrossFit Nutrition:
Post-workout fueling: Try to consume some form of carbohydrates & protein within 30 minutes post-workout e.g. a protein shake.
Calorie Intake: Don’t be afraid to eat a large quantity of high-quality carbohydrates, fats & protein. It is extremely common for Male & Female CrossFit athletes to consume anywhere between 3000-4000 calories per day.
Water: You should be aiming to drink anywhere between 2L-4L water per day and kickstart this by having a glass of water as soon as you wake up. Trust us, it will change your life.
Nutrition VS Supplements: Only begin to take supplements once you have got your diet right. Supplements are meant to supplement a good diet. They are not there to replace a poor diet.
Supplements: At Everything CrossFit, we take 4 different supplements. We recommend speaking to a nutritionist or your doctor before taking your own supplements:
Creatine - supposed to help with strength
Beta-Alanine - Mat Fraser claims that it gave him a “third lung”
Protein - assists with muscle repair & recovery
Magnesium - assists with sleep & muscle soreness
Does carb loading & carb cycling help for CrossFit?
Carb Loading for CrossFit
Carb loading refers to a process where you eat an excessively large amount of carbohydrates before a big event. A common misconception is that carb loading the day before the event will have a positive impact on the outcome of that event. This is actually incorrect.
In order to obtain a measurable benefit from carb loading, you must commence this process 3-4 days prior to the event. Whilst this can help with certain endurance events, it can also lead to a feeling of "sluggishness". Our recommendation is to try and increase your caloric intake 4-5 days before a big event however it is important to ensure the quality of your food remains the same - no processed foods or unnecessary fats!
Carb Cycling for CrossFit
Carb cycling involves manipulating carbohydrate intake on different days or at different times to promote fat loss and optimize performance. Moreover, this strategy involves consuming more carbs on high-intensity training days and fewer carbs on rest days or low-intensity training days.
Carb cycling assists you to achieve your body composition goals while still providing the integral fuel for high-intensity workouts. However, noting down the type and quality of carbs consumed also matter. For instance, complex carbs such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, and quinoa are more beneficial than simple carbs such as sugar and refined grains.
Our recommendation is to implement a consistent diet, no matter whether you’re training or not. The quality of the food you consume should not change however you can throttle the quantity of food depending on your training intensity for the day.
Should you consider intermittent fasting for CrossFit?
Intermittent fasting involves limiting your eating window to a certain number of hours per day (usually 8 hours), with the rest of the time being a fasted state. Intermittent fasting attempts to push your body into a state of ketosis - forcing your body to use fat reserves as energy.
Whilst certain individuals swear by this approach, we don’t think it’s a great idea for CrossFit. The reason why is that it’s going to be difficult for someone to consume the amount of calories they need (3000-4000/day) within the 8 hour window that intermittent fasting provides.
If you do want to try intermittent fasting whilst doing CrossFit, it's crucial to ensure that you're still meeting your nutrient needs and consuming enough calories during your eating window. It's recommended to break your fast with a high-protein meal to promote muscle protein synthesis.
How much does a professional CrossFit athlete eat?
Professional CrossFit athletes typically consume 4000-5000 calories per day when they are training.
Mat Fraser recently posted a video showing what he ate whilst training for the CrossFit Games:
Interestingly, he said that he does not track macros specifically but just focuses on eating large amounts of good quality food.
Similarly, Rich Froning is famously known for his love of chick-fil-a burgers. Check out the video below where he talks about his nutrition plan:
Advanced Nutrition For CrossFit: Implementation Tips
Implementing advanced nutrition strategies into your CrossFit nutrition plan requires careful planning and individualization. Here are some tips for success:
Consult with a registered dietitian or nutritionist to create an individualized nutrition plan based on your goals and performance needs. They can also assist you in tracking your progress and adjusting your plan as needed.
Experiment with different strategies to find what works best for your body and performance goals. It's crucial to note that what works for one individual may not work for another.
Stay consistent with your nutrition plan and track your progress to monitor your success. Consistency is key to achieving optimal performance.
Remember that nutrition is just one piece of the puzzle and should be combined with consistent training and recovery practices for optimal performance. Proper nutrition alone cannot replace hard work and dedication in the gym.
To sum things up, proper nutrition is the backbone of CrossFit performance, and what you eat before and after your workout makes all the difference. By following the advanced nutrition strategies and tips discussed in this article, you can take your nutrition game to the next level and see substantial gains in your CrossFit performance.
Therefore, it is also crucial to remember that nutrition is a highly individualized journey. So, listen to your body, experiment with different approaches, fuel your body with the right nutrients at the right times, stay consistent, and watch as you transform into a stronger, more resilient CrossFitter.