Fuelling for the Crossfit Open.
The Open is almost upon us! It snuck up very quick!! After the Open earlier this year, a lot of us have spent our time trying to improve our fitness in the hope that we can better ourselves in this next test!
That means five weeks of max effort to achieve our best score possible. To perform our best and capitalise on all of that hard work, we need to consider everything that affects performance. The 3 biggest players are going to be Sleep, nutrition & hydration.
The Open can get extremely demanding on our bodies. Over the 5 week period, we are giving our max effort, sometimes multiple times per week (if/when we decide we need to ‘redo’ ;-)) . If we want our bodies to perform and take on this extra stress, then we have to prioritise not only our recovery, but also how we’re fuelling ourselves. Since you’re going to be demanding a lot from your body, ensure you’re giving it what it requires in return.
Neglecting any of these aspects over the next 5 weeks (well anytime really) could negatively affect our performance and/or recovery, meaning we’re not putting ourselves in the best position to capitalise on our hard work.
So how do we approach the coming 5 weeks to ensure we’re ready to perform?
Firstly, we want to prioritise our sleep and hydration. The simple things. I mean, we should already have these ‘optimised’, but lets be honest, most of us could do better. Maybe now is a great time to start building good habits around these critical aspects of performance… or life.
Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep. Emphasis on quality. See a previous post we’ve done on optimising sleep, but essentially we need to set ourselves up for a good sleep (there it is again, ‘plan for success’. seems to be a common trend :-) ). This may mean, winding down at night with a book instead of social media. Keeping your room dark and cool. Removing any screens and/or blue light 30-60 mins before bed.
I love the quote;
‘If you could bottle 10 hours of quality sleep, it would be a banned substance’
Hydrate adequately, especially when you’re training hard as well as coming into the warmer months. this is such an easy ‘hack’ that will have huge results. Lads, aim for min 3L of water per day. Ladies, aim for at least 2L of water per day.
Drink water like its your job.
In terms of eating; We want to be focussing on a few key things. Again, this isn’t really going to be any different to how we should be approaching our nutrition every day, however, maybe with the little added motivation of performing better in the Open, we can start forming these habits and carry them on through.
Focus on food quality. We want to make sure we’re eating a wide variety of whole, unprocessed, fresh foods. This will help us ensure we’re getting our micronutrients in which are essential for performance and recovery, but also, help combat inflammation, which, we want to manage as best we can during this stressful period on our bodies.
Do not be afraid of eating! Think of food as fuel, we need to fuel our bodies to perform. Guess what our bodies preferred fuel for High intensity training/ Metcons (Think…Crossfit) is? CARBS! Don’t shy away from them. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and veggies including starchy veggies such as potato & sweet potato. Consider rice as well as oatmeal as some other great choices. Don’t forget quality protein sources such as chicken, fish, beef, eggs, protein powders to help with recovery and include your ‘healthy’ fats (olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, avocados) to assist in keeping our hormones in check.
To dive a little deeper, here are some general pointers that seem to work well for most;
We want to fuel up for our workouts. Specifically, carbohydrates to ensure we top up our glycogen stores. The science suggests it takes up to 48hrs to replenish our glycogen stores. In practice this may look like;
Say we want to hit our Open workout at ‘Friday Night Lights’ , so we’ll train Wednesday, rest Thursday and hit the workout on the Friday. What we want to do is make sure we’re eating up a little on the Thursday (yes, even though you’re ‘resting’) and the Friday. Eating up doesn’t mean going crazy. What it means is we’re looking to add potentially an extra 40-100G of carbs to our day (as a guide). This might mean an extra bowl of oats or another serving of rice at lunch and/or dinner. Whether you opt for 40g or 100g will depend upon your size, what you’re currently eating as well as whether your goal is mostly optimal performance in the open, or continuing on your weight loss/aesthetics journey.
On the big day, we want to stick to the routine that works well for us. Don’t go making any drastic changes that could cause stomach upset etc. The priority, again, is ensuring we’re well fuelled for whats to come!
Ideally around 2hrs out, we want to try and get a decent meal of protein and carbs in (low fat). As a guide, somewhere between 40-80g of carbs (depending on your size etc) with a nice lean protein source. Think Oats and protein powder or chicken and rice, for example.
30mins to 1hr before, lets aim to get some faster digesting carbs in such as some fruit or even carb powder/ a sports drink.
IF you usually have some caffeine before you workout. consider getting this in ~30 mins before you go. If you don’t drink caffeine generally before training, i wouldn’t advise the open workouts as a time to test it out! Feel free to trial it in the days leading up to the open. Caffeine definitely has some proven performance benefits. Start with a small coffee and see how you go. Some pre workouts have upwards of 3 cups of coffees worth of caffeine in one serving!! Steer clear of that.
Post Workout. There are plenty of studies to suggest getting some protein and carbs in within an hour or so of finishing up your workout has benefits to your recovery time and process, which, if you plan on repeating workouts, will be a crucial component of a good second (or third) attempt. Try and stick to High Protein, High Carbs here. This will aid in muscle recovery as well as replenishing glycogen but be a bit easier to digest for your stressed out system.
If its going to be a while before you can get a meal in, Consider a protein shake with some carbs (fruit or carb powder) and then get a meal in when you are able.
One other important component to remember is that ‘The Open’ may conflict with some of your other health and fitness goals. We’ve discussed in a previous blog post that sometimes there can be a conflict between body composition and performance related goals. Trying to lose weight by being in a calorie deficit is not going to be conducive to optimal performance for highly demanding exercise.
What we have to do is decide on which goal is most important to us then understand & accept the outcomes of that decision. Want to perform optimally for 5 weeks? Maybe we’re aren’t going to drop weight over that time. Want to continue with your fat loss journey? Try your best in the workouts, but accept that perhaps you weren’t fuelled to perform at 110%.