That’s right, you have just around eight-weeks left to dial in that nutrition for the up-coming 2018 CrossFit Open.
Nutrition is a confusing topic, and I could delve down a very deep rabbit hole into the nuances of performance nutrition, but for the sake of this article, lets highlight what is most important to understand and think about over the course of the next two-months, leading up to and throughout the Open.
When it comes to the CrossFit Open season, there are only two things that matter: Fuel and recovery.
Let’s dive a little deeper into what that looks like and where to even begin.
What are your goals? In every endeavor, it’s important to have an understanding of your goals.
For many, the Open is a time to test yourself in a competition setting, and to push harder than you normally would. For others, it actually means nothing more than 5-weeks of messing up your gym flow. And for a select group, it means peaking to perform your best and test yourself against the best in the sport.
But one thing to understand when it comes to nutrition and the Open is performance vs aesthetics.
Doing CrossFit just for the hot bod with no real performance goals? That’s totally cool–but understand that aesthetic goals are different than performance goals, and anyone seriously trying to perform their best in the Open cannot be simultaneously concerned with their physique. If you are more focussed on your abs than your performance, you are in trouble.
Unless the weight on the scale is holding you back from being successful in the Open, this is no time to worry about getting lean. In fact, that’s basically the worst thing you could be doing to yourself. The Open will likely result in a little extra weight on the scale given the increased inflammatory response, stress, and the need for extra fuel. Please don’t have a panic attack looking at the scale during the Open…I would suggest not even looking at it, like, ever.
How to fuel:
The Open workouts are glycolytic in nature, meaning, the energy system used is one that relies almost completely on carbohydrates. (Unsure of what a carbohydrate is? You might need a nutrition coach). Yes, CARBS, you need to eat carbs to survive the Open.
Given the intensity of the Open, and the relatively short time domain in which the workouts are performed, carbohydrates will undoubtably be your primary fuel source.
But…I eat Paleo you say? While Paleo is great, I highly suggest that you find a way to fit carbohydrates into your diet leading into and throughout the Open, or prepare to under recover and feel like a bag of dicks while simultaneously crushing your central nervous system (CNS).
Ideal carb sources: Likely whatever your body is used to and can tolerate. Rice, oats, sweet potatoes, cereals, and some sort of cyclic dextrin or post workout carb…even some high glycemic carbs like candy can be helpful for post workout recovery.
Now that you know what you need to use for fuel, how do you determine how much, and when?
Competition stimulus, aka “emptying the tank” is something that we rarely do in training. The extra nervous system impact must be accounted for with your nutritional prescription throughout the Open. That’s where it’s important to understand your training age.
Those with a higher training age (usually competitors), have a higher neuro muscular efficiency (NME), meaning they can go deeper into the nervous system (the dark place) than someone who is newer, and likely less conditioned. Once again, this means that someone with a high NME will need more carbs POST workout to recover their CNS.
What does this look like? Perhaps an extra scoop of post-workout carbohydrate in your bevy, more carbs at night with dinner…or a combo of the two! The benefits of a post-workout high molecular weight carb is that it will help bring cortisol down while also being easy on the digestive system and gut. (Too many big words..you might need a coach). This is extremely important for recovery and your ability to perform well continuously for five weeks.
On the flip side, newer, less experienced athletes (gen pop) have a much lower NME and will not require the same amount of post-workout carbohydrate for recovery. If you are newer to Crossfit, training, or competing, you just won’t be able to go deep or dark enough into a workout to warrant any major nutritional recovery protocols like extra pre and post-workout carbohydrates. For you, I would say eating a few more carbs the night before an Open workout, while making sure to get in enough micro-nutrients and nutrient dense food for recovery will serve you well.
Understanding your body
Leading up to the Open it’s best to experiment and gain an understanding of how your body responds to food, and things like refeed days.
Do you plan on doing some refeed’s throughout the Open? This is likely going to be necessary, but when? It’s paramount as an athlete to understand your body and when it performs best. (Don’t know what a refeed day is, or how to implement one? We got you!)
Do you feel your best the day of a refeed? The day after? Two days before? Some athletes report feeling sluggish the day after a refeed! It’s important as an athlete to know this about yourself, and as a nutrition coach, it’s important for us to know this about our athletes.
I would encourage competitive athletes, and those hoping to peak for the Open to experiment with nutrient timing, refeed days and increased doses of carbohydrates leading up to the Open. Knowing your body will be key and sometimes even the most marginal changes can have an epic impact when it comes to performance and recovery.
For the gen pop, just make sure you are eating enough. Stay away from eating high fat foods in the 2-3 hour window prior to doing an Open workout, add in a few extra carbohydrates pre/post, stay hydrated and you will be Goldilocks.
I feel like I could go on forever, but this is a start.
If you want more information on dialling in your nutrition for the Open, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to help.
Each week after the Open workout is announced we also hope to do a little post on Facebook or Instagram about what your nutrition should look like in relation to the workout announced that week, so keep following along and share with your friends.
Loveeee your Crux Nutrition Coaches,
Kelley, France and Meghan!