Are you looking to level-up your performance for the CrossFit Open?
The open a time that gym members are looking for ANYTHING that will give them an edge.
Most CrossFit athletes underestimate the impact of what proper nutrition and fueling your body will do to improve your performance.
Everyone knows you can’t out-exercise a bad diet but do you think about how your body is fueled by the food that you put in it.
In today’s podcast, Ashley and I discuss fueling for the CrossFit Open. We break this up into three topics:
What to do now leading up to the open?
What to do on the day of?
What to do to help you recover?
In this episode, Nicole Aucoin and Ashley Osterman discuss simple and practical tips to help you optimize your performance for the CrossFit open!
Don’t underestimate what you can be doing NOW and your daily actions to improve your CrossFit Open performance.
Are you looking for simple and actionable tips to help you become the healthiest version of yourself? Don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast, so you don’t miss another episode again.
Improve Your Performance For The CrossFit Open
With Proper Nutrition
Nutrition Tips: Before The CrossFit Open
What we’re doing now is so vital for our performance in general and in overall health.
One of the simplest strategies you can do to prep before is to try to follow the plate method. Half of your plate vegetables, a quarter protein, quarter starch, and add in that healthy fat. You want to make sure that you’re fueling your body, days leading up to the event.
Other 3 key factors to do the days leading up to the event:
Simple Recipes To Try
Nutrition Tips: The Day-Of Your CrossFit Open Workout
First: Are you doing the open workout first thing in the morning? Or are you doing it as a Friday Night Lights?
If you’re doing it first thing in the morning – You definitely want to have some carbohydrates and a little bit of protein before.
If you’re doing it in the afternoon – Have your normal balanced breakfast, lunch, some snacks you want to fuel your body throughout the day so that you have optimal performance. Having a balanced snack before and limiting sugar is key.
Nutrition Tips For Recovery After Your CrossFit Open Workout
A really great rule of thumb is to have a post-workout Whey Protein shake. You can also add little extra carbohydrates in there.
At Healthy Steps Nutrition HQ, we recommend Ascent Protein.
You want to make sure that you’re having a balanced meal after that as well, to replenish your body and refuel your body to help recovery.
You have to give your body sufficient time to recover and rebuild muscle. Remember to hydrate and focus on balanced meals and snacks. Don’t forget to rest and relax.
If you want to have a treat, have it and move on and make sure you’re really focusing on the quality foods to fuel your body for recovery.
ADDITIONAL PODCAST EPISODES TO LISTEN TO
ARE YOU A GYM OWNER OR NUTRITION COACH?
You don’t want to miss the Grow Your Nutrition Business Podcast!
Every week, we provide simple and actionable tips to help gym owners and coaches build a wildly successful nutrition program.
In this directory, you will find a list of the nutrition coaches and dietitians that use our program, written and overseen by dietitians.
These coaches have gone through coaches evaluations, have ongoing mentoring calls with our experts, and have been nutrition coaching using HSN for a minimum of four months.
Click the link below to find a nutrition coach near you!
Nicole Aucoin (00:04):
Welcome to the Nutrition Made Simple podcast. At Healthy Steps Nutrition, we believe something as fundamental as nutrition shouldn’t be complicated, which is why we focus on a simple habit-based approach when working with clients. I’m your host, Nicole Aucoin, registered dietitian and founder of Healthy Steps Nutrition, CrossFit HSN, and HSN Mentoring. I’m also the author of the Healthy Kids’ Cookbook, 100% kid-approved recipes the entire family will love. You can get it on Amazon. In this podcast, we will be teaching you how to take one step at a time to becoming the healthiest version of yourself. Today, we’re talking all about CrossFit and nutrition. Get ready to drink the Kool-Aid.
Nicole Aucoin (00:52):
The CrossFit Open is officially one month away. This is one of my favorite times of the year because it’s the time to test all of your hard work from the years previously. We even started doing past open workouts every Sunday to prepare for the open, and it’s fun just to compare your scores from previous scores. I can tell you that after doing CrossFit for over 10 years now, PRs don’t come as often as they used to. The open is a time that gym members are looking for anything that will give them the edge. Most CrossFit athletes underestimate the value of proper nutrition and feeling your body. Everyone knows you can’t out-exercise a bad diet, but do you really think about how your body is fueled by the food that you put in it? Are you filling your tank up with the lowest level quality of gas or premium?
Nicole Aucoin (01:48):
I can tell you that when you start filling your fuel tank up with premium gas, quality food, you will feel the difference. In today’s podcast, Ashley and I discuss fueling for the CrossFit Open. We break this up into three parts; what you are doing now, leading up to the open, what to do the day of, and how to recover. Guess what? In this episode, you will hear simple and practical tips to help you optimize your performance now and in the open. This can be transferred over into any sport in competition day or meet season. Are you looking for simple and actionable tips to help you become the healthiest version of yourself? Don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast. And one more thing. We always give free bonus help if you click the link in the show notes so that you can capture that awesome free help.
Nicole Aucoin (02:47):
Did you know that HSN Mentoring is a turnkey solution to save you time and not reinvent the wheel when it comes to building a nutrition program from scratch? That’s right. Our mentoring program starts with training that includes online modules, homework, and mentoring calls. The training teaches you how to set up a nutrition program, how to market your nutrition program, how to coach clients using a habit-based approach, and most importantly, how to retain them. Some gyms will launch with individual coaching while most will launch with a challenge. But either way, the goal is to convert those clients to ongoing coaching after an initial three-month program or an initial challenge. Getting started is easy. You just set up a free call, we chat to learn a little bit more about you to see if it’s a good fit, and if it is, we invite you to sign up and move forward with the training. You can get your program up and running within four to six weeks. All right, let’s get to this episode on adding a nutrition program in a CrossFit gym. Ashley Osterman, welcome back to the Nutrition Made Simple podcast.
Ashley Osterman (04:02):
Nicole Aucoin (04:03):
So fun to be back chatting with you about another exciting topic. Today, we are talking about fueling for performance. The CrossFit Open is right around the corner, so it’s the perfect time to be talking about fueling for performance. You work hard in the gym. You want to be able to see the results that you’re working so hard for.
Ashley Osterman (04:22):
Yeah. When it comes to fueling for performance and fueling on your workouts, there’s just so much misinformation out there. We have heard lots of different things and strategies and tips from your neighbors, friends, uncles, mothers, cousins, but it’s really hard to separate fact from fiction. Because let’s be honest. We really all want to see some good results and really achievements for what we’ve been working so hard for up to this point.
Nicole Aucoin (04:49):
Absolutely. I’m excited to dive into it, but before we dive into it, I know you have a really fun story to talk about with your dad.
Ashley Osterman (04:56):
Yeah. So growing up, my dad was a runner. I mean, he used to do at least 10, maybe 12 marathons every year. I have this vivid memory of every night before his run, my mom would make him this giant platter of spaghetti. We didn’t really eat spaghetti that often growing up, but before his run, he would just inhale a box of spaghetti. In the morning of, he would eat a giant stack of pancakes. That is what we have come to know as carb loading. This is a strategy that people use and might think works, but when we look into the science, it’s not exactly what you would think it is.
Nicole Aucoin (05:41):
So you’re saying eating normal and then eating the day before, a giant bowl of pasta, and then the morning of eating more carbohydrates is probably not the best way? You’re not going to get more energy from just doing that the day before?
Ashley Osterman (05:53):
Nicole Aucoin (05:55):
Exactly. If you are truly trying to carb load, it takes quite some time for your body to adjust and be able to actually store the glycogen, the glucose that your body is trying to source. So we don’t need to carb load. Let’s talk about what we really need to do for the open. But before we dive into that, I think it’s important to understand your dad’s marathons and an open workout are very different time domains.
Ashley Osterman (06:22):
Very different. Let’s talk about the open. It’s a few weeks, but three weeks of about a 20 to 30-minute workout. So less.
Nicole Aucoin (06:30):
I mean, there are some workouts that might only be five minutes.
Ashley Osterman (06:32):
Nicole Aucoin (06:33):
You’re at max capacity for a short domain period of time, and then we’ve got some recovery after. So what we’re doing now is so vital for our performance in general and in overall health. So I want to talk about first, what should we be doing now, and the day before when the open starts?
Ashley Osterman (06:55):
Yeah. It’s really important to think about what we’re doing consistently. Because really when we look into the science and the research, it shows that following a regular eating schedule of high-quality foods and balancing your meals and snacks with a source of carbohydrates, protein, and fat and eating consistently, having meals and snacks every three to four hours is really what’s going to set yourself up for metabolic success when it comes to performing in an open or an event.
Nicole Aucoin (07:26):
So we don’t need to go drastic and change everything the day before is what you’re saying?
Ashley Osterman (07:31):
No. Absolutely not. Actually, I think you’d be doing yourself a disservice if we’re trying all these new things the day before.
Nicole Aucoin (07:37):
Exactly. We don’t know how our body’s exactly going to respond, right? So we want balance and at Healthy Steps Nutrition, we really focus on one thing at a time and try to keep it so simple. One of the simplest strategies you can do, eating the entire day before is to try to follow the plate method. Half of your plate vegetables, quarter protein, quarter starch, add in that healthy fat. You want to make sure that you’re fueling your body, days leading up to the event. Even the day before, you want to focus on having those quality meals, having those snacks, getting the fuel you need because if you’re not eating enough the day before, you’re going to suffer the next day.
Ashley Osterman (08:12):
Absolutely. We think about some other things that could cause us to have a decrease in performance that we do the day before an event, and one of them is drinking alcohol.
Nicole Aucoin (08:22):
Yeah. So recovery, even though you might think you’re completely fine, alcohol does tend to impact your sleep, right?
Ashley Osterman (08:29):
Nicole Aucoin (08:30):
If you’re not sleeping well, you’re not going to be able to perform your best the next day. So, hey, let’s just skip the drinks the night before and have a great workout that we’ve worked so hard for. The open is fun because it tests your fitness level. I love the open for a few reasons. One, I can look back at my scores from 10 years ago and see how much have I improved compared to everyone else in the open? And number two, the Intermural Open. So it’s time for our gym to get together. But yes, we want to be thinking about something, setting ourselves up for success. So alcohol, limiting that the day before. Hydration, dehydration can decrease performance up to 20%, so you want to stay hydrated the day before and the day of. But also your sleep. That’s something that most people don’t really prioritize enough.
Ashley Osterman (09:17):
Also, too, I know when it comes to getting excited about a big event or excited about something, we tend to not go to sleep or be a little bit restless when it comes to the time of falling asleep. So making sure that you’re giving yourself enough wind-down time, you’re turning off those electronic devices at least 30 minutes before you plan to go to bed, having some type of relaxation method and really setting yourself up for success. So make sure you’re getting between seven to nine hours of sleep the night before your event.
Nicole Aucoin (09:45):
Ashley, you want to know something super interesting? I know we’ve had quite a few conversations about it, is the continuous glucose monitoring experiment.
Ashley Osterman (09:52):
Oh yeah, absolutely.
Nicole Aucoin (09:53):
So going back to our carb-loading, this proves that it’s actually not as great at all to be doing carb-loading the night before. I know this… And this is a common trend for people that do manage their blood sugar, that doesn’t have diabetes. We track our blood sugar. I’ve been tracking it for six weeks now. It continuously tracks my blood sugar, so I know what my body’s doing on the inside compared to what I’m eating. We noticed that when I have higher carbohydrates at night, my blood sugar stays elevated for the night, which is not great.
Ashley Osterman (10:24):
It’s not good.
Nicole Aucoin (10:25):
My sleep is impacted. So if you’re going and doing those carb loading, having excessive carbohydrates, sugar at night, it will impact your sleep and you don’t want that to happen, and you might not even realize it. I think it was an eye-opening thing for Jason when he started, my husband, started doing the continuous glucose monitoring experiment because he realized… He has a nice sugar addiction. When he has sugar at night, it causes him not to sleep as well, and it took him seeing his blood sugar being elevated to correlate, “I’m not sleeping well. This is what I ate the night before, and I’m done doing that.” He hasn’t done it since, which is really cool. But you want to look at all the factors because they all really play together, deciding yourself up for success the day before.
Ashley Osterman (11:08):
Yeah. So I think the big take-home message about how to really set yourself up for success the day before your event is really ensuring that you’re eating quality foods, you’re having those balanced meals and snacks. You’re keeping yourself hydrated. You are limiting or completely avoiding alcohol and you’re making sure you’re getting a good night’s sleep. So, Nicole, now we should talk about what strategies our listeners can utilize on the day of the event.
Nicole Aucoin (11:34):
I think there are two different strategies here. Number one, are you doing the open workout first thing in the morning? Or number two, are you doing it as a Friday Night Lights like we’ll be doing out at our gym?
Ashley Osterman (11:43):
Nicole Aucoin (11:44):
So if you’re doing it first thing in the morning, you definitely want to have some carbohydrates and a little bit of protein before. Some people say they get nauseous if they eat before they work out, so getting up a little bit earlier. Liquids are faster digested than the solid food. So if you have a half of a smoothie or drinkable Greek yogurt or Greek yogurt with maybe some applesauce with protein powder. There are different options that you can have to give yourself some fuel so that you’re not trying to do this open workout on empty.
Ashley Osterman (12:12):
For those of you listening, the reason why we recommend having just carbohydrates and protein right before the first thing in the morning workout is that when you add fat into the mix, it actually slows down your digestion. It delays your gastric emptying and then it will make for those carbs and those proteins to take longer to actually get to your cells. So we want that energy right away, we want to make sure we’re giving ourselves some protein and some carbs that way we’re fueling ourselves right away for the event.
Nicole Aucoin (12:39):
We want to drink water too. So if we’re doing it in the afternoon, then it’s a different story. Having your normal balanced breakfast, lunch, some snacks you want to fuel your body throughout the day so that you have optimal performance. Having a snack before. Again, carbohydrate is our body’s main source of fuel for performance, so having a few carbs before your workout would be a great option.
Ashley Osterman (13:04):
Nicole, another thing I talk to a lot of my athletes about of day of the performance for events is don’t try anything new. Let’s stick with what’s been working and not introduce anything that could potentially cause us upset or decrease in performance.
Nicole Aucoin (13:23):
I can tell you from personal experience. I did a 24-hour row with CrossFit Kids’ app a year ago now actually.
Ashley Osterman (13:30):
Oh yeah. I remember that.
Nicole Aucoin (13:31):
Rowed for 24 hours and I know better than this, but I was like, “I’m going to be rowing for 24 hours. 10 minutes every hour on the hour, I need some quick carbs to eat throughout the time because my body’s main source of fuel is carbohydrates.” I got those gummies and all these things to be eating 24 hours. My stomach hurt so bad during that whole process because my body wasn’t used to that. I literally tell my clients don’t do that, and for some reason I did it and I fell for the trap. Trust me, I will never do it again. But you don’t want to try something new the day of. We work with a bunch of gymnasts and I always talk to them, “Try the new stuff now and see how it feels, see how your body responds to it. Do you like it? Do you not like it?” So that you’re not trying something new the day of.
Ashley Osterman (14:17):
Absolutely. Yeah. The last thing you want to do is try something new and have that GI upset or some issues that will cause us to have a decrease in performance and not get those marks that we worked so hard for.
Nicole Aucoin (14:29):
Absolutely. Now, I think one question that always comes up regarding the day of right before the workout. What’s the best thing to have or should I be having pre-workout? That’s a common question, right?
Ashley Osterman (14:42):
Nicole Aucoin (14:43):
So here’s my philosophy on pre-workout. Your heart rate is going to get jacked up so high during an open workout. You do not need anything to make it go higher and start at a higher level. Why is that? Well, when your heart rate is elevated, it’s much tougher to do things. If you think about Fran or really intense CrossFit workout, when your heart rate is elevated, you sometimes get blurry minds. We’re not thinking straight. We’re not going to be able to perform as well. So let’s go ahead and skip the pre-workout. If you want a cup of coffee has it. A lot of pre-workouts have two, three times the amount of caffeine than in one cup of coffee. The other thing is having a bunch of sugar right before you exercise is not going to be the best thing for you.
Ashley Osterman (15:29):
Yeah. I’ve heard that story too like, “Oh, well, carbohydrate is sugar. I’m going to have this candy right before I work out.” It’s like, “Okay. Yes, it might be carbs, it might have sugar, but not all calories are created equal.” We want to look at those whole foods, those healthier options, those high-quality foods that are going to help fuel your body for optimal performance. Let’s not add in those ultra-processed foods, those quick-fix sugars, because really you’re doing your body a disservice.
Nicole Aucoin (15:57):
Yeah. I personally just do applesauce and I am… From here, I work from home every day and before I go to the gym, I grab applesauce and that’s what I’m having on my way to the gym and I work out. Let’s talk about it after the workout.
Ashley Osterman (16:10):
Yeah. After the workout, it’s important to make sure that we are going to fuel ourselves and replenish those glycogen stores. A really great rule of thumb is to have a post-workout Whey shake. You can also add little extra carbohydrates in there. I like to add a little coconut water sometimes. It’s great for the rehydrating effect as well too. Then you want to make sure that you’re having a balanced meal after that as well, to replenish your body and refuel your body to help recovery.
Nicole Aucoin (16:43):
Absolutely. So we’re focusing on carbs and protein after a workout. Now, a question that we get asked often and some people are like, “Well, I didn’t eat anything all day, but I had my Whey protein shake after I worked out, so I’m good.” Well, it actually matters more if you’re eating enough protein throughout the day and you’re fueling your body throughout the day versus what you have immediately after, but we do want to focus on replacing those glycogen stores. So yes, think about what you can have after, but really think about where is that in the context of the entire day?
Ashley Osterman (17:13):
Yeah, absolutely. A general rule of thumb for sufficient recovery and to replenish your body is to have a protein and carb source within one to two hours after training or within four to five hours after that pre-workout meal or snack. Again, consistency is key here, people.
Nicole Aucoin (17:31):
So I want to dive into this because we brought up Whey protein, there are questions about this all the time. What Whey protein do you want? How do I know which one’s good? What do I want here? So what I look for first, when clients ask me about Whey protein, you need something that tastes good. You want to enjoy it, but you want to something that has quality ingredients. The supplement industry isn’t tested. So you don’t know if what is on the label, what’s on the ingredients label is actually in the bag. This is mind-opening for many people because they don’t realize that. They’re like, “Wait a second. Companies can say something on the label, but then it’s not really what’s in the bag?” Yes. It’s not tested because it’s technically considered a supplement, not a food product.
Nicole Aucoin (18:13):
So what you want to do is look for a supplement, a protein company that has the stamp, the informed choice stamp on the front of the bag that says, “Hey, we know that our product is super high quality and we’ve got it tested and proven that what is on the bag is actually on the label. At Healthy Steps Nutrition HQ, we personally use a stamp protein. I love it. We use it in a lot of our recipes. We also use Bubs Collagen Protein, but we’re focusing on Whey protein after our workout. You want to pair that with some carbohydrates. You could do it with some applesauce. I personally do a Fitaid after I workout, and then I’ll have my Whey protein a little bit later. So having Whey protein is definitely key after your workout. Actually, realistically though, a lot of people ask us… Or there are these trends in CrossFit, donuts after your workout. People will bring a lot of different things for Friday Night Lights, right?
Ashley Osterman (19:14):
Yeah, to celebrate. You’re done with it. We finished it, now let’s indulge. Those after event indulgences. Yeah. Everything from donuts, to cookies, to ice cream, to cake, to pizzas, and I’m talking lots of pizzas.
Nicole Aucoin (19:28):
So if you’re going to have something, having it after your workout is probably the best option because your cells are a little bit more sensitive to glucose. They’ll uptake it and you don’t have as much of an inflammatory response, but that’s not giving you the open door to overindulge and have anything. I personally try to have our clients focus on whole foods first. Have a balance. If you want a treat, have it and move on. It’s not saying eat your entire dozen donuts in one sitting.
Ashley Osterman (19:56):
So Nicole, what you’re saying is I can’t have two pizzas after the workout?
Nicole Aucoin (20:01):
I would ask you if you did have that, how did you feel after?
Ashley Osterman (20:06):
I would feel absolutely horrible.
Nicole Aucoin (20:07):
So let’s bring it back to that, and then you make your decision of really, is it worth it or is it not? I know for me, it’s absolutely not worth it. I don’t like feeling bad that night or the next day. I want to be able to sleep well. So making sure that you’re planning ahead, especially if you’re going to a Friday Night Lights and you know that you’re not going to have food after, bring some snacks with you, bring a protein shake, have your post-workout recovery, and then maybe you do plan a meal and just bring it with you so that you can fill your body after your workout.
Ashley Osterman (20:35):
Absolutely. Now, Nicole, I love that you said, “Have a little treat.” If you want to have a doughnut, you want to have a piece of pizza or a treat, have it and move on and make sure you’re really focusing on the quality foods to fuel your body for recovery.
Nicole Aucoin (20:46):
Absolutely. I think the more you think that, “Oh, I can’t have this. I can’t have that,” The more you automatically crave it, right? But we’ve had members bring donuts to our gym before, after the open and I might have a little piece, a bite of one, and then I’m like, “Okay, I’m good. I don’t need anymore. I don’t need to indulge in a whole thing.”
Ashley Osterman (21:04):
Yeah. As you mentioned, Nicole, when we eat those types of highly processed and high sugar foods, it does cause an inflammatory response in our bodies and we already have inflammation because we just finished an event or a workout. So just keep that in mind when you’re thinking about having those treats and knowing when to have a limit.
Nicole Aucoin (21:21):
You want to make sure that you’re staying hydrated of course too. So we’ve talked about the day before, we’ve talked about the day of, we’ve talked about after, anything else regarding performance and nutrition tips for the CrossFit Open.
Ashley Osterman (21:36):
I definitely think we have to talk about the day after because recovery is so important. You have to give your body sufficient time to recover and rebuild muscle. I think keeping that balanced meal and snack going, keeping that consistency with your meals, rehydrating yourself and giving yourself a little bit of time to relax and rest is so important when we talk about recovering.
Nicole Aucoin (22:01):
I love that. I think all of those are really great tips. Remember, it’s not just what you have immediately after the workout. If you have a protein shake, but you don’t eat quality foods all day long, it’s not going to help you better your performance overall. So we want to look at overall and then dialing in the fine details later, right?
Ashley Osterman (22:21):
Yeah, absolutely. Another thing to just keep in mind that we want to make sure that we’re eating adequate protein the day after, as well, incorporating protein with every meal and snack. When I’m saying balanced meals and snacks, a good source of protein, carbohydrates, and fat, because protein is so essential when we’re talking about rebuilding our muscles and recovering.
Nicole Aucoin (22:39):
Absolutely. Don’t forget Omega3s help fight inflammation so that would be another great source of… Or something you want to be thinking about as you are talking about recovery. I hope this episode helped you have some idea of what nutrition would look like around the open. As CrossFit athletes, we work so hard during the year and this is a time to test our fitness. So I hope everyone just has a really fun time. I know we are super excited at our HQ location to be doing the Intermural Open, bring our community together and just sharing some laughs and having fun. But best of luck to all of you guys listening in the open and we’ll see you next week,
Nicole Aucoin (23:19):
Don’t underestimate what you are doing now in your daily actions to improve your overall health wellness and of course, your CrossFit Open performance. You might be thinking, “Nicole, now is the time. I am ready to change my habits.” You probably are tempted to change all the things, because as CrossFit athletes, we like to go all in. But I challenge you to slow down and just change one thing at a time. Be consistent with that one thing, and then add the next thing to your plate. If you are unsure what that one thing is, or you are looking for a guide to help you, we would love to help you. We just released a new directory called hireanutritioncoach.com. In this directory, you will find a listing of nutrition coaches and dieticians that use our program. It’s written and overseen by registered dieticians, by the nutrition experts.
Nicole Aucoin (24:19):
These coaches have gone through coaches evaluations, they’ve gone through all of our training, ongoing support, and they have ongoing mentoring calls with the experts. They have been using the program for at least three months. So we are confident that these coaches that are on this directory will be a great guide for you. Coaches evaluations are new to the process at HSN Mentoring, so we’re going to be adding more and more coaches that are running the program to this directory in the coming weeks and months. Don’t forget to click the link in the show notes to get those free bonuses and find a coach near you. Until next week.