5 Nutrition Tips for Crossfit Athletes

healthy steps nutrition crossfit tips

How can you ensure that all your hardwork at the box is giving you optimal results?

Crossfit athletes push themselves as hard as they can during WODs, but many lack the knowledge about proper nutrition pre and post-workout. Most crossfitters don’t realize that nutrition, hydration and recovery is what enables athletes to have optimal performance.

Recently, I had a crossfit couple come into the hospital, and they BOTH had met “Uncle Rhabdo” aka rhabdomyolysis. They were clueless as to how important the proper fuel and hydration really are. Luckily, both husband and wife realized something was wrong pretty quickly and brought themselves to the hospital. After a long discussion with the wife, she told me that they frequently skipped breakfast, and didn’t drink fluids before or during a long Saturday morning workout. They were lacking the proper nutrition and were unable to fuel their bodies for workouts, which unfortunately, caused them to have a little vacation at the hospital. Now, they are educated about what do to ensure optimal health through proper nutrition, hydration and recovering. I decided to post tips for crossfit athletes to acheive optimal health and ensure they are properly fueling their bodies for workouts.

5 Nutrition Tips for Crossfit Athletes:

1. Hydration: Our bodies are primarily made up of water (70% of muscle is water). During WODs, we sweat a lot, especially in South Florida, and it is extremely important to hydrate BEFORE, DURING and AFTER workouts. Make sure you bring a water bottle with you and DRINK it.
Recommended amounts:
15-20 ounces of water prior to working out
10 ounces of water every 20 minutes during the workout
Additional 8-15 ounces post workout

2. Breakfast: Frequently, I hear from the “dawn patrol” athletes that they skip breakfast because it’s too early to eat. Here’s the issue, your body is in a fasting state from sleeping the night before and your glycogen stores are the lowest in the morning. Unfortunately, when you workout on an empty stomach your body breaks down MUSCLE before fat. High intensity exercise on an empty stomach does NOT help you burn fat!
Tip: Have a source of carbohydrate and protein for breakfast, with a large glass of water!

3. Post workout: The majority of crossfitters would be surprised to find out that protein is NOT the most important macronutrient to consume immediately after a workout. Replacing depleted carbohydrates stored in your body is the most important thing to do directly after working out. You have a 30 minute window to eat carbohydrates after workouts to ensure optimal replacement of your glycogen stores. This is important because it will help with faster recovery and improve your performance the next time you workout! Don’t get me wrong, protein is important too, but you have about an hour to consume protein after a workout.
Tip: Bring a banana with you after you workout to eat on the way home. If you aren’t able to eat within a hour, a supplement shake would be a good option (ideally containing about 30 grams of carbohydrates and 30 grams protein).

4. Are you a meathead? Most people think the more protein the better. When trying to build muscle, your protein requirements are higher than an average individual but don’t take that to the extreme. The problem with excessive amounts of protein is that you are putting a lot of stress on your kidneys, which causes damage over an extended period of time. The average person can only absorb about 30 grams at a time, which is why it is recommended to consume about 4 ounces of protein per sitting. Protein recommendations are based on weight, and your health goals (ie gain muscle, lose weight).

5. Vitamins on vitamins on vitamins: Do you really need to be taking all these supplements? I ALWAYS tell my clients, whole food is best. The supplement industry isn’t regulated or tested, and many contain metals. Many supplements are very hard for your body to digest because they contain binders and fillers. If you follow a balanced diet with adequate amounts of colorful fruits and veggies, you will be getting the vitamins and minerals you need. There are very few supplements that I actually would recommend. OMEGA 3 supplements are something that I recommend to all of my clients. Omega 3s have an abundance of health benefits including improvement of heart health, decreasing inflammation, decrease recovery time, and decrease your body’s reaction to stress (workouts).
Tip: Look for a pure omega 3 supplement (not a fish oil blend).

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About the author

Nicole Aucoin, MS, RD, LD/N

Founder, Healthy Steps Nutrition
Home of CrossFit HSN & HSN Mentoring

Author of Nourish & Healthy Kids Cookbook

Author of The Basics of Nutrition Coaching Course, CrossFit Preferred Nutrition Course

CrossFit Level 2 Trainer