CrossFit is a sport synonymous with intensity and endurance, and it demands not just strength and skill, but also the right nutritional support. For athletes, nutrition plays an even bigger role, serving as the foundation for peak performance and optimum recovery. If you’re an avid CrossFitter, here’s how to prime your body with the best pre-workout routine and ensure you’re always on top of your game.
Understand the Importance of Timing
The Pre-Workout Window: While timing isn’t everything, you can set yourself up for greater success by following the advice below. Ideally, we want to aim to eat a solid meal about 2-3 hours before your workout. This gives your body enough time to digest and convert the food into usable energy. If you’re someone who trains early in the morning or you can’t make this window work, a smaller snack 30-45 minutes before can also do the trick.
Focus on Carbohydrates
Carbs = Energy. They are your body’s primary fuel source, especially during high-intensity workouts like CrossFit.
- Complex Carbs: Include options like rice, quinoa, or whole-grain bread. They release energy slowly, ensuring you have stamina throughout the workout. The further away from your workout you are, the more of these you can incorporate.
- Simple Carbs for Quick Energy: If you’re eating just before your workout, opt for simple carbs like fruits or drinks. A banana, for instance, can provide quick energy and is also packed with potassium, which may help prevent muscle cramps. If you’re not an eater, something like a sugary Gatorade can also fit the bill.
Don’t Forget Protein
While carbs fuel your workout, proteins ensure muscle protection. Including a source of protein pre-workout can help reduce the breakdown of muscle tissue during intense sessions, aka they’ll help you save your gains.
- Lean Proteins: Think chicken breast, tofu, or sliced deli meats. These provide essential amino acids without the added fats, so they won’t slow you down.
Keep Your Fats Minimal
Healthy fats can be a great energy source for longer, less intense workouts. However, due to their longer digestion time, it’s crucial to consume them in very small amounts to prevent any stomach discomfort or GI distress. We’d hate to see you lose valuable workout time having to run to the bathroom!
- Sources: Avocado, nuts, or a teaspoon of almond butter can be good choices, but again, remember to keep the portion sizes small.
Hydration is Key
Remember, as we’ve talked about in the past, even a 2% reduction in hydration can impair performance.
- Water: Aim to drink at least 16oz (approx. 500ml) of water 2-3 hours before your workout. Top it up with another 8 oz (approx. 250ml) 20-30 minutes before you start. And for every 15 minutes of a workout, aim to replace around 4oz of water.
- Electrolyte Drinks: For those particularly sweaty sessions or if you’re prone to cramps, consider an electrolyte drink to maintain a balanced mineral level in the body. We need more than just water if it’s very hot out, or if it’s a long workout. This is where our sports drinks can come in super handy. If you’re not a big fan of sports drinks, you can try something like LMNT, or try a pinch of table salt in an orange juice.
Sample Pre-Workout Meals
- The Early Riser (upon waking): A banana smeared with a teaspoon of almond butter + a cup of black coffee.
- Mid-Day Power (around lunchtime): Grilled chicken wrap (whole grain wrap, lettuce, tomato) with a side of fruit salad and a big glass of water.
- Evening Energizer (3p and later): A handful of whole grain crackers with hummus, and a small serving of mixed berries.
The art of pre-workout nutrition is about balancing the macros to suit the demands of your workout as well as your personal preferences. Understand your body, the intent of the CrossFit workout for the day, and adjust your nutrition accordingly. With the right fuel, not only will you power through the WOD, but you’ll also be setting the stage for faster recovery and more gains.
Remember, CrossFit is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one. With the right nutrition, you’re not just feeding your muscles but also sharpening your mind.
Stay strong, eat smart, and keep crushing those workouts! 🏋️♂️🥗🔥
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