The Open is upon us...
Fueling for the upcoming CrossFit open is a HUGE topic that is floating around social media right now. As a nutrition coach, this time of year is where I take my clients (who CrossFit) out of a calorie deficit and get them back to maintenance calories, or even a healthy surplus of calories. Why? The Open is a really intense time of year for us. We are emptying the tank every week, sometimes twice a week if re-doing workouts, more than most people do any other time of the year.
As Dave Castro said,
"If you're doing CrossFit at its intended intensity, every single workout should bring you to your dark place. For many people, the Open is the first time they reach that place. It's something about the atmosphere and spirit that surrounded this competition. It heightens your intensity and suddenly you reach this stimulus that you never knew existed. That's your dark place."
With that in mind, how can we optimize our nutrition to help enhance performance and facilitate recovery during the most intensive five weeks of the average CrossFitters season?
Every sport has a season. Yes, even CrossFit because it has become its own sport. So cool right?! CrossFit Games athletes to us are like NFL players to high school football players. In CrossFit, our season is typically around the time of the Open. This applies to those entering to have fun as well as those who are on the higher end of the competitive side. We all exercise to be fit and healthy but a lot of us also do this because we like to compete and test ourselves against others. Most of us don't do this in our garage, we do this at our local box surrounded by others with similar goals of being the best athlete we can be. When in season, we must prioritize our performance in each workout and also prioritize recovery.
To support performance and recovery, one MUST eat enough calories. Increased intense energy demands on the body will create a higher calorie output which will require increased calories (energy) taken in via FOOD. Plain and simple: CARBS.
Regardless of your goals, if you are competing in the Open and want to do well, this is NOT a time to go into a calorie deficit or focus on the number on the scale. Slashing calories 10 days before the Open to try to be "lighter for gymnastics" isn't smart. Trying to change your current eating habits and only eat "clean" foods and remove necessary carbs like rice, grains, oats, bread isn't very smart either. Again, this is a time where we need to make sure we take in adequate calories to support the increased demands placed on our bodies.
It's really important to understand the energy systems used in various training modalities. The body will breakdown different macronutrients in energy/fuel depending on the energy pathway being used. For example, the glycolytic pathway (CrossFit) breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, stores it as glycogen, & uses it to create ATP (ATP is the energy source for all human movement). I will say that again in simpler terms, CrossFit is fueled by CARBS.
Glycogen stores take 24-36 hours to replenish. What does that mean for our workouts? Your WOD is mainly fueled by the day BEFORE, not necessarily the meal right before. Yes, the day of/meal before your workout is important too but is mainly for blood sugar control.
If you are already counting your macros and have a good idea about general nutrition, awesome. You came to the right place! If you have no clue what macros are and just want to know what the hell to eat, you came to the right place too!
NUTRITION TIPS FOR THE OPEN WORKOUTS:
Other things you can CONTROL outside of nutrition:
Better late than never right? I intended to post this blog earlier than this BUT, there's still 21 hours & 35 minutes until 18.1 is announced!
Training is over, it's time to COMPETE. Good luck!
I am passionate about creating a healthy lifestyle for myself & helping those around me.