Workout Nutrition & Why It Matters
What are you eating before you come to the WOD?
When it comes to the high intensity and weight involved with CrossFit workouts, we need to fuel our bodies for properly with the workout in mind. The best way we can can do this with carbs. We want to make sure we get carbs pre-workout to fuel us.
Our muscles are fueled by sugar, namely glucose which is converted to glycogen and stored in our muscles and liver for energy. This is what allows our muscles to perform and function, especially with heavy weights. This is super important for CrossFit, otherwise you can end up feeling pretty crummy during your workouts. If you feel like you hit a wall during your workouts, get dizzy, or sometimes just have workouts where you just feel bad, you may not be getting the right foods before your workout.
So what happens when we workout and utilize all the glycogen in our muscles? If you’ve ever done a lot of push ups, you know there comes a point when you physically can’t do push ups anymore. That’s a sign you’ve fatigued your muscles and have run out of glycogen.
You may have heard that post-workout you need to be getting some sort of protein, whether that’s from a protein shake supplement or a meal, but protein is only half of the puzzle with this same concept in mine.
After a workout, we want to refuel our bodies with both protein for muscle repair and generation, as well as carbs to replenish our lost glycogen stores. This helps us recover by both allowing damaged muscle fibers to be repaired, generate new muscle fibers (hello, strength!) and replenish energy stores to set us up for success. Adequate and protein and carbs post-workout can mean you experience less muscle soreness post-workout, as well as being refueled for your next workout.
Nutrient Timing Around Workouts
So now we know you need to be fueling your workouts by having some sort of carb before you get started, but how long before your workout is dependent on you individually, as well as what type of carb you’re eating.
When consuming complex carbs pre-workout, such as potatoes, bread, oats, and rice, give your body somewhere between 1-2 hours to digest the food. These types of food take more break down to be utilized as energy, so they won’t be ready for use for at least an hour after eating.
When it comes to simple carbs like fruit, sugar, and quick metabolizing carbs, allow about 30 minutes to be digested before being ready to be used for energy. This might look like having an apple or banana on your way to the gym, since they contain high levels of naturally occurring sugars called fructose, and will be ready for energy very quickly.
In general, how long before the workout you should eat these is dependent not only on the workout (don’t eat too much before burpees 🤢), but also how your stomach tolerates food before the workout. See what works best for you to allow you to feel good throughout the entire workout feeling dizzy or like you’ve hit a wall with muscle fatigue.
Did you know that Vantage Members get a complimentary 30-minute consultation with our in-house nutritionist Deidre? The goal of these consultations is to chat with her about what you’re currently doing with your nutrition and get some real advice that you can implement immediately to reach your goals. You can schedule your consultation here.