There are a million websites and videos out there, dedicated to CrossFit-style training. You can’t throw a rock in the gym without hitting a trainer demonstrating a medicine ball lift or overhead press and of course, his buddy filming it on a GoPro. However, there seems to be much less attention dedicated to the much-less-exciting but way-more-important aspect to overall fitness and physical well-being: Nutrition. How should you be eating in order to enjoy the most CrossFit training success? Let’s find out!
You’ll be composing your own diet, based upon acceptable foods that you enjoy eating. The ratio of foods you eat is imperative for success. No single food, nor group of macronutrients) alone will meet all of your body’s needs. A diet consisting of 30% protein, 40% carbohydrates and 30% fats is best suited for the physical rigors of CrossFit training as well as the recovery from such workouts. Now let’s look at the kinds of foods you should be selecting to meet these ratios.
Choosing the correct kinds of protein sources is imperative for reaching your workout recovery goals. Protein provides the amino acids your muscles use to heal and rebuild (stronger and bigger) following your very tough training sessions. Choices such as processed lunch meats or beef jerky might deliver the required grams of protein you need to meet your ratios, but their digestibility and overall quality leaves much to be desired. Instead, you should be opting for choices such as lean beef, chicken, egg whites, turkey and whey protein. Other options are also acceptable, provided their sodium and fat content is low.
Training in the CrossFit manner is tough, there’s no doubt about that. You’ll be able to train with much greater intensity and stamina if you’ve provided your body with the requisite carbohydrates before training time. Choose from options such as sweet potatoes, rice, pasta, and a wealth of fruits and vegetables. Products that are flour-based such as bread take longer to digest and don’t provide the digestive assistance through fiber that your body requires. Be sure to consume adequate water as well, as staying hydrated is essential for optimal carbohydrate utilization.
Fat is certainly not a four-letter word when it comes to macronutrients essential for CrossFit athletes. Adequate consumption of fats from sources such as almonds, fish oil and egg yolks will give your body the key components needed for organ function. From brain to heart to many of your other organs and systems, eating the RIGHT kinds of fats is important and should not be ignored. Skip the fast food options – those fats will hurt your health and training performance as well.
Foods to avoid
Any highly processed foods are going to slow you down, no matter what macronutrients their labels promise. Quality of nutrients is degraded and your system takes longer to make use of them. Additionally, your body misses out on many of the antioxidant effects which are delivered from these “foods”. Health comes first, and training performance is a distant second. Select foods that are fresh and unprocessed, and you’ll look, train, and feel better!
No cut-and-paste diet is going to exactly match your needs. The ideal diet is the one that you create based upon the ratios listed above, using the foods listed as permissible above. Choose those foods you enjoy, and be sure to try new things. Track your progress using a food journal. If you feel great after a workout, you should realize the foods you consumed that morning (as well as the night before) played a key role in that success. Likewise, if you lack energy in a workout or don’t recover quickly from it, then it might be time to look at those foods and make a change.
There is no doubt that training hard using CrossFit-style workouts will make you stronger, leaner, more explosive, and enjoy a higher quality of life. However, the diet that fuels these workouts (and assists in the recovery from these tough training sessions) cannot be overlooked. Remember that time spent in the kitchen is just as important as time spent in the box. Good luck!