Healthypedia
Brenton Barker

Top Nutrition Tips For CrossFit

Most people understand the importance of fitness and recovery, but how many understand the role nutrition plays in CrossFit? Eating a healthy diet will boost your CrossFit performance.

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It goes without saying that nutrition plays an incredibly important role when it comes to fitness performance, and CrossFit is no different.

Generally speaking, a well-balanced diet that incorporates meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy fats, and carbs is highly recommended. With a high-intensity workout like CrossFit, your body, mind, and spirit can benefit significantly.

Avoiding processed foods and focusing on whole foods is also essential for maintaining and incrementally increasing your fitness goals and achievements. Tracking your macros is going to be critical if you’re to optimise your diet and training sessions. Although this is time-consuming and somewhat tedious, it is necessary to maximise your results.

This form of ‘self-measurement’ or ‘self-evaluation’ is still one of the most effective ways to track your progress. It will allow you to not only track your fitness progress but make adjustments if and when needed.

So let’s delve a bit deeper and look at the science behind nutrition and CrossFit.

The foundations of a CrossFit nutrition plan

Nutrition lays the foundation for any sporting activity, and CrossFit is no different. Eating and fueling for sports is complex because there are so many factors to consider, such as:

  • Type of activity

  • Intensity

  • Duration

  • Frequency

  • Body type and metabolism

You also have factors such as the temperature, which can significantly affect how much you need to hydrate to replace fluids and lost electrolytes. However, that being said, many of the same nutritional fundamentals used for other high-intensity sports are also suitable for CrossFit.

Nutrition and sports science are two of the most ever-evolving research areas, making coming to concrete conclusions difficult. There is a reason experts, myself included, use words like ‘recommend’ and ‘guidelines.’ Finding the right nutritional plan for you takes expert guidance and experimentation; what works for one person won’t necessarily work for you.

Typically speaking, some general guidelines can help form the base of your CrossFit nutritional plan. After that, it’s up to you to track your progress and make the necessary modifications when and where possible.

Guideline Of CrossFit Macro Breakdown

  • Carbs 40%

  • Protein 30%

  • Fats 30%

Remember, most diets online are ‘cookie-cutter’ diets, meaning they’re designed to work for everyone, but they never do. If you’re new to fitness and unsure where to start concerning your nutrition, please consult a registered dietician or nutritionist.

Hydration and CrossFit

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Regardless of whether you’re doing CrossFit, riding a bike, or going for a power walk, keeping your fluids topped up is critical to your performance.

One of the easiest ways to monitor hydration is by checking the color of your urine. This effective method is used by pro athletes, and it can work for you too. Aim for a urine color that resembles a pale yellow color. If the color is closer to apple juice, then you’re probably severely dehydrated, and your performance will tank.

CrossFit workouts of the day or WODs that are shorter in duration will require different hydration strategies to those of longer durations and higher intensity.

  • Short-duration and low-intensity WODs: Mineral water is adequate.

  • Longer Durations and High-Intensity WODs: Sports drinks and mineral water are required.

Pre-CrossFit nutritional needs

A CrossFit workout of the day can last up to 60 minutes and is performed at high intensity with limited rest in between sets. CrossFit competitions are even more demanding on the body and can last as long as 2-3 days, depending on the size of the competition.

It’s generally recommended that you eat a meal rich in low-GI carbs that release energy slowly over time, at least 2-4 hours before your competition starts. Planning your meals the day before a competition is s good tip, especially if you’re attending a gym for the first time. Does the gym have food available on-site? If not, your performance will suffer.

Another top tip is to experiment with your food choice during practice rather than competition; the last thing you want is an upset tummy during a CrossFit, especially considering your stomach is already churning from the nerves.

Suggested meal plans 2-4 hours before a workout

  • Oatmeal with toast and eggs

  • Yogurt with fresh fruits like a banana

  • Chicken and rice with salad

  • Pasta and chicken with salad

  • Club sandwich (without the fries; sorry)

Suggested meal plans 1-2 hours before a workout

  • Protein smoothies with fresh fruit

  • Dried fruits, nuts, and seeds

  • Light sandwiches (ham and cheese, chicken and lettuce)

Suggested meal plan during workouts

  • Energy gels

  • Energy bars

  • Sports drinks

  • Water

  • Fruit, and yes, even

  • Gummies and a soft drink are OK

It’s important to note the closer you get to the competition, the lighter your meals should be and the quicker the energy needs to be supplied. Energy gels and bars are an excellent solution and come in a heap of different flavours.

CrossFit and recovery needs

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Recovery is just as important, if not more important, than ‘pre-game’ or ‘pre-competition’ fuelling. Getting the essential nutrients back into your body will help to quicken recovery and prepare you for the next competition.

Ensuring your recovery meal is loaded with protein, carbs, and fats is your best option. The best time to start the recovery process is immediately after you’ve finished your workout. Smoothies make the best option as the nutrients are absorbed quickly, but an energy gel or a bar will hold you over until you get home.

Suggested recovery meals

  • Protein smoothies with oatmeal and peanut butter

  • Sports gels and muesli bars

  • Trail mix

  • Pasta with chicken

  • Rice and chicken

  • Club sandwich (a few french fries are OK; just don’t tell anyone)

Bonus CrossFit nutritional tips

Carbs: Tailoring your carb requirements can not only boost your performance but help with weight management. For instance, cutting your carbs on rest days is recommended, while upping them on high-intensity days is your best bet.

Tiredness: If you are tired during your workout, you may need to evaluate your nutritional intake, rest, and recovery protocols. More often than not, it’s a combination of insufficient quality calories and too little rest.

Protein: Supplementing with protein can help to promote and quicken muscle recovery. Several high-quality protein powder brands are online, but thoroughly research before purchasing. Check the supplement has been third-party tested and has a transparent label with no hidden ingredients.

Let’s sum it up

Dialing in your diet will take some time, but if you want to get the most out of your efforts, which I’m sure you do, then taking the time to plan your nutrition is well worth it.

Ensuring you take in adequate amounts of protein, healthy fats, and carbs is non-negotiable. Tracking your progress will be critical as it allows you to evaluate and adjust your nutritional intake as needed. Feeling tired halfway through your WOD? probably means you’re not getting enough quality calories.

One last but very important point to remember is that you should eat for performance, not aesthetics.

Want to learn more?

Experts from CrossFit take a deep dive into nutrition and the important role it plays when it comes to reaching peak performance. The video illustrates that not only is the amount of food you eat important but also the quality. Eating for performance rather than body image should always be your number one priority when it comes to nutrition.


Healthypedia FAQ

How much you will need to eat depends on several factors, such as how many times a week you train, what intensity you train, and other factors like body weight. There are plenty of free apps that can help you track your macros; however, one of the best ways is to monitor your own performance. If you're feeling tired, then you're probably not enough.

CrossFit places significant energy demands on the body, so ensuring you have enough carbs in your system is critical. Foods like oatmeal, bananas, and even trail mix are excellent snacks before CrossFit and provide plenty of carbs to get you through your workout of the day. Avoid heavy foods just before training, like pasta and eggs on toast. The last thing you want is a bloated belly when performing CrossFit.

Research shows that endurance and high-intensity sports require athletes to consume more carbs than fats and protein. Some suggest a macro split of 50% carbs, 30% protein, and 20% fats. But obviously, this will vary from person to person and is dependent on factors such as exercise frequency, intensity, duration, and body type.

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