Fuel your Crossfit Open

Photo Credit: Pete Williamson Photography  

Photo Credit: Pete Williamson Photography  

Its that time of the year again. THE OPEN is upon us.

Whether thisis your first time competing, or you're a crossfit addict, it is important to feel your best and perform your upmost on the day.  


Dave Castro has scuppered many crossfit boxes into hunting down dumbbells in time for The Open, and truth be hold 17.1 encompasses a combination of dumbbell snatches and burpee box jumps.

A handy guide to help you prepare for your Crossfit Open Workouts. How to eat toperform your best, a commonly asked question. 

Depending on what time of the day you perform your workout. 

The Early birds

As you've heard countless times, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. With morning Crossfit sessions typically being early morning around 6am-10am,  having a proper breakfast is key to your sporting performance. What to eat before your workout, when to eat it, how much to eat and how all this effects your energy levels and overall performance. Never introduce new food or drink into your diet the day before you decide to complete The Open workout, be sensible and eat foods you are familiar with. ‘Good’ nutrition should be an ongoing part of your training, not something you start the day prior to competition. Eating a light meal two to three hours before your workout to supply your body with ample nutrients and time to digest, allowing your tummy to feel comfortable. Your diet should enable you to train hard, recover effectively and achieve your potential goals. 

Morning of the workout

 Eat a healthy breakfast of ~400-600 calories. Topping up your energy stores with familiar foods and without eating something that will feel heavy in your stomach.
For example:
- Porridge/ Instant oats/ cold cereal with low-fat milk
- Half a bagel or breakfast muffin and some low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese.
- Fruit salad with low-fat greek yoghurt
- Multi grain bread with scrambled egg


 Drink water Staying hydrated is crucial.

 Avoid fatty foods these can sit heavy in your stomach as fats take longer to digest, making you feel nauseated, full, or sluggish.

Coffee. Only if you normally have a morning coffee. Caffeine can stimulate and improve athletic performance by increasing alertness during your workout, but beware: it can also stimulate your digestive tract.

For those who complete workouts at 6am, breakfast often isn’t appealing and often athletes cannot stomach a meal. However it is vital to fuel your body. Focus on foods that a quick to make and easy to digest. 

  • Liquid meals, being shakes and smoothies are a great way to provide nutrients and fluid in an easy to digest form. Aiming for at least 30minutes pre workout. 
    • For Example: Blueberries, plain yoghurt, honey, ice cubes.  

The Night Owls 

Eat to nourish your body throughout the day, focusing on foods that are nutrient dense i.e full for nutrients (vitamins and minerals) and avoiding the ‘junk’ food / ‘empty’ calories (lots of calories and no nutritional benefits). Eat often and eat smart. Carbohydrates are your main source of fuel. 

Stay hydrated. 

Ensure adequate rest the night before. Good sleep hygiene is key to athletic performance. The more energy you have, the quicker you'll be able to think, move and recover. 

Avoid feeling hungry, bloated and battling fatigue from a long day at work. Think about your;

  • pre-workout 
  • intra-workout
  • post-workout

The Science 

Carbohydrates are the body primary fuel source and should form a significant part of your diet, with endurance athletes requiring high amounts of carbohydrates to saturate their muscles with glycogen, the storage form of carbohydrate (also stored as glycogen in the liver). Glycogen stores are relatively small so require topping up as low glycogen stores may result in fatigue and effect sporting performance. Rough estimate requirements 7-10g of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight (5-7g/kg body weight for general training <1hr low intensity, 7-10g/kg body weight 1-3 hr moderate to high intensity training) during training and closer to the high end of this range prior to long endurance workouts. A training diet would consist of: carbohydrates from a quality source (wholegrain breads, cereals, grains and pasta), moderate amount of protein and small amount of fats (oily fish, poly and mono unsaturated fats and oils) with plenty of vegetables and some fruit. Due to the stress of exercise, the body produces reactive oxygen species, paying attention to anti-oxidant intake equips the body’s cells with enzymes to protect against damaged caused by free radicals. Anti-oxidants from green leafy vegetables, citrus fruit, whole grains, meats, seafoods and certified breakfast cereals help provide the body with plenty of minerals and vitamins (vitamin A, C, D and E). 

Crossfit athletes should also include sources of essential fats in their daily diet as they cannot be made in the body. Aiming for at least two servings oily fish (mackerel, salmon, fresh tuna, sardines etc) per week, eating nuts (~7 walnuts, ~14 almonds) and seed (1-2 dessert spoons of mixed seeds or 1-2 tbsp seed oil per day). Oily fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, a potent anti-inflammatory which some research suggests this may help alleviate muscle soreness and boost immunity. 

How should you time your meal before your workout? Eating prior to exercise differs depending on the individual and how food sits in ones stomach, at times it can be tricky to manage timings effectively. For those individuals with sensitive stomachs, getting nutrition in can be achieve with the use of smoothies and liquids. Generally allowing one to four hours for food tobe digested prior to exercise is suggested. Crossfitters should consume between 400 and 800 kcal worth of foods rich in carbohydrate, low in fat, and with moderate protein content for example a breakfast cereal with fruit and low fat milk or a whole grain bagel with tomato and low-fat cheese. 

Post workout, consuming a combination of carbohydrates and protein within a 30 minutes and up to 2 hours finishing is suggested to be the best way to help your body recover. Aiming for a 3:1 ratio of carb to protein this combination of nutrients helps replenish muscle glycogen stores, if too much protein is consumed it may potentially inhibit the absorption of carbohydrates by slowing gastric emptying, however a little protein is essential to repair/ build muscle. Post workout snack examples include
A banana and dried fruits are good immediate following a race then 

  • bagel with peanut butter and fruit juice 
  • sandwich (tuna, turkey or egg) 
  • 1/2 cup plain yoghurt and 1 cup mixed fruit
  • Grilled chicken salad with avocado

Remember why you are doing this. ENJOY YOURSELF.

Lindsay Benson