So, you signed up for a CrossFit competition. First of all, congratulations. You are going to have a blast. I’m sure you have been setting goals, working hard on the movements that you know will be in the competition and you have been training hard in general but how hard have you been focusing on your nutrition? How important is nutrition during a competition? What should you eat and when should you eat it? Read on for some answers.
If you are waiting until now to focus on your nutrition then you are already behind the curve so hopefully you already have that in check. A terrible diet leading up to a competition cannot be fixed with a few well timed protein/carb shakes and a Kill Cliff. A bad diet will be exposed during times of strenuous activity like the competition you are about to take part in.
I am going to assume you have been eating meat, vegetables, nuts, seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar like CrossFit teaches. You have? Ok good, let’s move on.
The Day Before the Competition
Nutritionally, the day before the competition is important, but so is what you do physically. You should move but don’t do anything strenuous. There is a WOD but it is not intended to make you hurt. The WOD is followed by a ROMWOD session designed to increase mobility and just make you feel better overall. As long as you don’t do anything crazy the day before, your body will be ready. Make sure you get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep the night before. You will need this energy for the competition. Oh, and don’t drink any alcohol. Save that for afterwards.
Your meals the day before the competition should consist of the same amount of calories that you normally have (if you actually track them) but the macros need to be carb heavy. Those carbs should come from whole food choices like sweet potatoes, whole grain pasta, brown rice, rolled oats, etc. Don’t go crazy but make sure you get enough. The goal here is to ensure your glycogen stores are full for the next day. This is not the time to experiment with something new. Our GI tracts are sensitive to changes in diet and the last thing you want on game day is to have an upset stomach. Oh, and this should go without saying…hydrate. Drink plenty of water the day before the competition, during to sustain hydration and after for recovery.
The Day of the Competition
Your breakfast should be 2-3 hours or so before the first event. This should be a well-balanced breakfast without anything that will sit too heavy. Think lean protein and your favorite morning carb that’s not a donut. You want lower fat than normal for this meal but some is acceptable. This meal sets you up for success because it again, ensures your glycogen stores are full. Now throughout the day you will only have to top them off between workouts.
Between WOD Snacks
Snacks should be pre-planned and thought out. You want to stick to things high in carbs and protein. This is your chance to eat something fun. Gummy bears and other sugary treats can quickly replenish glycogen stores after a workout but don’t go overboard. Stay away from fat as much as possible. Fat will slow down digestion and increase the time it takes for those carbs to replenish your energy. You don’t want to be digesting your snack during your second workout, you want it already digested.
There are many carb focused sources out there that can be used. Anything marketed towards long distance runners is going to be quick digesting and provide a good carb source while also being quite tasty. FitAid makes a good fuel source that can be purchased at Vitamin Shoppe, light fruit can be a good option as can sports drinks. You want to make sure you get in some protein as well but the focus should be on carbs. Protein shakes can be used here, just make sure they are paired with some carbs. Keep in mind, these are snacks, not meals. You aren’t eating to get full, you are eating to recover.
The perfect post competition meal would be a nice balance of protein carbs and fat. It would consist of whole foods and no junk but where is the fun in that? You just completed 3-4 grueling workouts, this is your time to celebrate. All that fat you neglected to eat can now be eaten. Go get that juicy burger you have been craving. Go get a gallon of ice cream and make an amazing sundae. This will not only help replenish your glycogen stores but it will put a smile on your face. Moderation is the key here. The celebration should end after the meal and you should go back to resuming your normal diet of mostly healthy foods with occasional treats thrown in.
- Eat a good carb focused meal and hydrate the night before the competition
- Eat a well carb/protein focused meal for breakfast 2-3 hours before the first workout
- Snacks should be quick digesting carbs/protein in small portions
- Stick to foods that are a part of your normal diet
- Avoid high fat foods in between workouts to allow digestion to occur faster
- Warm up before and cool down after each workout
- Celebrate afterwards!
Other Random Competition Thoughts
- Bring a change of clothes for each workout. It will be hot and you want to be comfortable.
- Bring a cooler with your own water bottles. You don’t want to be fighting people for the one cold fountain that probably won’t be cold for long.
- Pack the night before. Make sure you have all of your gear (jump rope, wrist wraps, grips, belt, lifters, knee sleeves, headbands, lucky stuffed animal, etc.)
- Bring Wet Wipes. They can be a game changer when you are feeling hot and sweaty (smelly)
If you have any specific questions you can leave a comment here or I am always available at firstname.lastname@example.org. In closing, this isn’t the Olympics. Your focus should be on having fun and getting better. Set goals and crush them. Stay positive and work as hard as you can. Can’t wait to see you all on Saturday!