You did it. You finally worked up the courage to sign up for your local throw-down. Congrats.
Now you want to know how to prepare and what to eat so that you’re able to compete at the best of your ability.
How do I prep for it nutritionally?
The biggest thing I often see people doing around competition nutrition is trying something completely foreign to them that they’ve never worked with. That’s the worst route to go down.
If competition day is this weekend, now is not the time to be experimenting with some new super food you saw someone eat on Instagram that claimed it has some sort of “hyper-caloric effect.”
If the competition is too close to the time you’re reading this, stick to what you know is going to work with you digestion wise. Even if we can’t optimize it right away, it’s still better than having your stomach churning in the middle of a workout.
Assuming you have time to re-organize your competition nutrition then, there are some things we will want to work on. If you’re doing a single event, such as the CrossFit Open and you’re doing it on a certain day once, the biggest thing will be aiming to ensure we have enough calories in the tank to perform optimally. If you are in any sort of energy (caloric) deficit prior to completing an Open workout, you’ll want to ensure you have ample carbs the day PRIOR.
The reason for this is that glycogen replenishment (filling up of our carb stores after emptying) can take anywhere between 6-36 hours. What that means for those of us working out is that very little, if any, of that pre-workout meal is actually being used as energy during your workout.
In fact, prior to our workout, our last meal should be about four hours in advance. In that meal, we’re trying to focus on having as little fiber as possible. The reason for this is actually quite simple when we think about it logically. If, during our workouts, our body is working to break down food, diverting blood to our stomach to do so, we aren’t going to be able to pump blood to our muscles as effectively or efficiently.
Logically speaking, if you don’t have enough blood running to your muscles, take a gander at what happens?
That’s right, performance suffers. This leaves out the fact that no one wants their stomach making noises like a bowling match during the middle of Fran or 19 point-whatever.
Back to carbs, it’s also going to be key to make sure that you have enough carbohydrates in your system to perform optimally for a CrossFit style workout. Despite the benefits of a ketogenic diet in certain applications, CrossFit is a glycolytic sport meaning that it uses carbohydrates primarily as fuel for our workouts.
Think of your body like an energy system with a backup generator. Ideally we run on carbs as our main fuel source but fats are always there as a backup once we run out of energy as an emergency. With that being said, as you may know if you’ve ever had to rely on a generator, the conversion time isn’t always immediate and you might not actually game the same amount of power out of it either.
From a nutrition perspective, if we run short of carbs during a workout, we have to rely on fats which have a significantly harder time fueling high-intensity exercise like CrossFit and moreover take longer to be utilized as energy.
When it comes to supplements, there’s a couple that have been proven to help during competition or prior. A high-carb replacement supplement such as highly-branched cyclic dextrin which has been shown to increase endurance levels during aerobic activity as well as decreasing perceived exertion and therefore increasing time to exhaustion.
Additionally, sipping on BCAA’s (branched chain amino acids) during workouts can help to fight off any catabolic effects of breaking down muscle for energy during those longer hero style workouts.
In our next post we will go over multi-day competitions and or multi-event competitions and how to fuel for each.