Crossfit Competition Nutrition - Fuelling for performance
Crossfit competitions - multiple demanding workouts, spread out over the course of the day. Not an easy task for your body to cope with.
Here are some tips on how best to prepare for your competition from a nutrition standpoint and how to fuel all of your workouts throughout the day.
Crossfit as a sport requires high intensities which means you will be utilizing glycogen as your main energy source. Therefore, you will want to make sure you have fully saturated your muscle glycogen stores ready for competition day (Saltin et al., 1973).
This can be done through carbohydrate loading. This is simple and can be done with acute strategies if needed. An ideal way to load is to eat around 7 grams of carbohydrates per Kg of body weight for 3 or 4 days prior to your competition (Burke et al. 2011). During this time, you will want to keep your fat intake lower to avoid being in a calorie surplus and to increase carbohydrate oxidisation.
For example, if I weighed 80KG and had a competition on Saturday, I would want to consume around 560 grams of carbohydrates every day from Wednesday through till Friday. It is important to note that with the added glycogen stores, there will also be added water weight so do not worry if you are a little heavier than usual.
Another thing to consider is the quality of the foods you are eating pre-competition. As your nervous system is going to be under a large amount of stress both in the lead up to the competition and the day itself, it is vital that you are consuming a full range of micronutrients through fruit and vegetables.
On competition day, you want to consume between 1-4 grams of carbohydrates per KG of body weight 1-4 hours before the first event (Mujika and Burke, 2011). The exact number and time frame you choose will depend on your preferences and what you respond to. e.g. I perform better from a larger meal around 2 hours before whereas some people struggle to eat that close so may need a smaller meal.
In between events, it is important that you replenish your glycogen stores, which can be done with some high GI carbohydrates that can be quickly digested alongside some protein which can help with glycogen re-synthesis (Zawadzki et al, 1992). These foods need to be things that you are used to eating and very palatable. e.g. I tend to struggle eating food so will have a protein shake with maltodextrin and will often have fruit, malt loaf and fruit pastilles.
It is very important that you stick to what you know and that you are not trying new foods or fuelling strategies on competition day. Any strategies should be tested before, in training, to see what works well for you.
There are also various supplements that can be beneficial such as Creatine, Beta Alanine, sodium bicarbonate and caffeine but as previously mentioned these should be tested pre-competition and doses should be monitored. Get in contact for more information on supplementation.
Things that you may want to bear in mind:
1. Liquid calories may be easier to consume if you struggle eating foods.
2. Foods high in sugar will be easy to digest and will be very palatable.
3. Caffeine is a great performance stimulant but is also a gut irritant... too much may do more damage than good.
4. Nutrient density and food quality is not your priority, foods that are easy to eat and high in calories and carbohydrates are your friends.
5. Just pick foods you enjoy!
6. Bear in mind how long you have till your next workout, leave time do digest!
7. Bring a variety of different foods/drinks... you may want different things at different times.
Hopefully you have found this useful and can take some of this information into your next competition!