Crossfit: Eating For Performance
You’ve probably have taken part in or at least know someone who is doing CrossFit. The intense style of training is booming in popularity. While CrossFit workouts are certainly different from traditional training methods, its cult-like following has many athletes learning some new skills and eating habits.
To perform well at CrossFit (or anything for that matter), your diet is crucial. If you’ve got a crappy diet, your body lacks the necessary energy to complete a Crossfit WOD and it also leaves you short-changed on the recovery wagon. So, if you want to perform a high level in CrossFit, let me give you some dietary recommendations.
CrossFit: What Your Body Needs
Instead of just throwing out a list of foods and supplements, let’s first focus on what your body and muscles are being asked to do. To excel in CrossFit (and most sports), you have be able to produce relatively high levels of power over the course of several repetitions and be able to do that repeatedly. For people who lack the strength and/or endurance to do this, they might do well in the first set or two, but then crash and fatigue towards the end of the workout. Yes, training and overall fitness are key factors that will drive your performance, but how well you monitor your diet will have the biggest impact your body’s ability to perform.
Nearly all sports, including CrossFit, require your muscles to burn carbohydrates for fuel. For this reason alone, carbohydrates are incredibly important and you need to make sure you’re getting them in adequate amounts before, during and after your WOD to recover properly. Optimal amounts of protein and amino acids in your diet will also provide critical nutrients for effective recovery. This also helps you build bigger and stronger muscles.
Another nutrient that is quite popular with CrossFit athletes that gives them massive benefit is creatine monohydrate.
Creatine is an amino acid found inside our muscles and in meats we eat. A small spoonful each day is all you need and it works very effectively to keep your muscles from tiring out and getting fatigued. This will be a huge benefit during the strength, skill, and metcon portions of your CrossFit training. Fortunately, the basic guidelines I’ve thrown out here are very straight-forward and are recommendations that all CrossFit athletes must consider (if you truly want to perform your best).
CrossFit Diet: The Wrap Up
For those who have tried it, you know that CrossFit demands maximal performance and to meet this demand your muscles need optimal fuel. Carbohydrates are your primary fuel and must be available to working muscles before, during and after exercise. In addition to adequate post workout carbohydrates, protein is critical and will help your body both grow bigger but also to recover more effectively. Lastly, a key dietary supplement that several studies have shown to be effective for activities like CrossFit is creatine monohydrate.
Whether you are training for the CrossFit Open or the CrossFit Games, consume these three fuels and you’ll be setting strength PR’s and faster WOD times on a regular basis.
-Dr. Chad Kerksick is an Assistant Professor of Exercise Science at Lindenwood University with a PhD in Exercise, Nutrition and Preventive Health. His research and expertise center upon study the impact of exercise and nutrition interventions on health and performance. You can follow him on Twitter at @chadkerksick.