You may have heard that you can’t out-train a bad diet. However, you might not know what a good diet looks like — especially for a sport as demanding as CrossFit.
If you’re not sure how to fuel your body for success, this guide can help. It outlines essential nutrition concepts every CrossFitter should abide by, whether they’re brand new to the sport or are seasoned pros. You’ll also learn common nutrition mistakes to avoid (and what to do instead).
Balanced Is Best
There’s no need to cut out carbs or fear fat when doing CrossFit workouts. Most CrossFit athletes feel best eating a balanced diet with plenty of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
Protein helps with muscle-building and plays a critical role in post-workout recovery. It’s also very satiating, meaning it curbs hunger and reduces cravings for other, less healthy foods.
Protein is found in poultry, fish, and red meat, as well as eggs and dairy products (cheese, milk, yoghurt, etc.). You can also get protein from legumes like lentils, beans, peas, and peanuts.
Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy. They fuel the heart, muscles, and brain and give you the power you need to crush your workouts.
Some of the best sources of carbohydrates for CrossFitters include oatmeal, fruit, rice, and sweet potatoes. In addition to providing plenty of carbohydrates, these foods also contain beneficial vitamins and minerals that support the immune system, offer extra energy, and help you perform your best.
Healthy fats provide energy and are essential for satiety, brain health, and adequate nutrient absorption.
Good sources of healthy fats include avocados, peanut butter, almond butter, and olive oil. They help you stay full longer and add more flavour to your meals.
As a bonus, some healthy fats like peanut and almond butter provide additional protein.
Foods to Avoid
Whole foods are generally better for CrossFit athletes than highly processed foods like chips, crackers, and baked goods.
These foods are often high in calories but low in nutrients. You might get a quick burst of energy after you eat them, but it will soon be followed by a steep crash.
You can enjoy processed or high-sugar foods in moderation. However, they shouldn’t be staples in your diet, especially if you’re trying to build muscle, shed fat, and achieve specific fitness goals.
What to Eat and When
CrossFit workouts are intense, and you need to be adequately fueled to perform well during them.
If you exercise on an empty stomach, you might find that you feel fatigued faster and struggle to keep up with your training partners. However, if you overeat before a workout, you might feel sluggish or struggle with an upset stomach during the WOD.
Most CrossFitters feel best eating a small meal or snack high in carbohydrates and protein before training. For example, they might enjoy some rice cakes with peanut butter or a banana and a protein shake. These foods will provide plenty of energy and keep them feeling full (but not stuffed or uncomfortable) during their workout.
After a workout, it’s also important to consume carbohydrates and protein. This combination supports muscle repair and growth. It also ensures you have the energy to tackle the rest of your day.
How Much Should You Eat?
Resist the urge to cut calories and consume as little food as possible. When you’re doing intense CrossFit workouts, you must make sure you have adequate fuel — especially if you’re training multiple times per day while preparing for a competition.
Your exact caloric intake will depend on several factors, including your current weight, activity level, and training goals. Consult with a dietician or another nutrition expert for personalised recommendations that align with your unique needs.
Common CrossFit Nutrition Mistakes
Now that we’ve addressed some basic nutrition concepts that all CrossFitters can apply, let’s get into some common nutrition mistakes (and how to rectify them):
Failure to Plan Ahead
Sticking to a healthy diet can be hard when you’re always on the go and dealing with a busy schedule.
Planning ahead and preparing meals in advance will help you ensure you always have nutritious food at the ready (saving you from swinging through the drive-thru at the last minute because you’re starving and don’t have time to cook dinner).
Some athletes eat the same foods every single day and never switch things up.
While it’s tempting to take this approach because it eliminates the guesswork from your meals, a lack of variety could cause you to miss out on essential vitamins and minerals. It can also lead to boredom and make it harder for you to stick with a healthy eating plan long-term.
Overconsuming Healthy Fats
Fat sources like nuts, seeds, and nut butters are essential components of a healthy diet. However, they’re also higher in calories than proteins and carbohydrates.
If you overeat healthy fat sources, you may notice that you gain weight faster than you’d like. Overdoing it on fats might also mean you’re undereating protein or carbohydrates, which your body needs to build muscle.
Following Fad Diets
Resist the urge to jump on the latest fad diet. Just because everyone is talking about the keto diet or the carnivore diet doesn’t mean you need to try it out.
If you’ve found a sustainable way of eating that helps you perform your best, stick with it. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing — focus on what works for you.
Level Up at CrossFit Noble Park
You could do the most incredible workouts in the world, but if you don’t complement them with proper nutrition, you’ll struggle to progress and achieve your goals.
Keep the nutrition guidelines discussed above in mind, so you can take your training to the next level and maximise the results of your CrossFit workouts.
Do you need more nutrition advice or workout recommendations? If so, our coaches at CrossFit Noble Park are happy to help. Contact us today to learn more or join our gym.