CrossFit Competition Fueling Guide
CrossFit competitions are a great way to challenge and push yourself and you can find one pretty much any time of the year. Once you do signup and show up to a competition, remember the hard training and most of the preparation is over. The big difference maker during the Competition will be something most people never see. . . How well you can keep yourself fueled and how fast you're able to recover over the full day or days of competition.
The long days spent training and practicing won’t do much good if the you can’t perform at your peak throughout the full competition. Below we’ll cover the keys to be successful at a CrossFit competition (or any other multiday competition). Then we’ll look at a sample nutrition and fueling plan that can help you keep their performance up throughout the full three-day competition.
KEYS TO SUCCESS
REPLENISH GLYCOGEN STORES
One of the biggest mistakes amateur athletes make is not properly replenishing used glycogen or energy stores. With most multievent competitions, you’re looking at one to three-hour window breaks between each event to replenish used glycogen or energy. After one event replenishing used energy may not seem crucial, but as the day and weekend go on, not properly replenishing used energy will catch up with you and make a difference in your performance.
The key to replenishing used energy stores between high-intensity events during a competition is to replenish with easily digestible and carbohydrate rich foods. This isn’t the time to try to replenish glycogen stores with a heavy, slow digesting meal like a roast beef sandwich or a slice of cold pizza. You would be surpassed how many times I’ve seen this happen at armature competitions. Your best bet here is something light, like Greek Yogurt (I personally like Greek God’s Greek Yogurt) topped off with some fruit or a good carbohydrate drink, like our very own Glyco-Muscle Fueler (I add a scoop of Whey-Pro 5 for some protein too).
The tip to stay hydrated is nothing new, but it is one of the things that is commonly overlooked. It’s one of those things that you may not notice until it is too late. It only takes 1% and 2% dehydration to affect performance, so staying hydrated is a must. Start the day by hydrating first thing in the morning by drinking at least 24oz of water as soon as you wake up, then try to keep hydrated throughout the day. You may want to cut back on drinking water about 30 minutes before each event to give yourself time to use the restroom if needed.
CONTROL LACTIC ACID BUILDUP
With all the intense physical activity required at each event, one thing you will most likely deal with is lactic acid buildup. Again, depending on your events, you may not deal much with lactic acid buildup during your first event of the day, but as the day goes on and your muscles wear down, lactic acid build up is something most athletes will deal with on some level. The way you handle lactic acid buildup is one of those things that can make all the difference in your performance and ultimately how you finish the competition. Whether you use a foam roller and/or electric stim machine between events and/or a supplement, like Cardio Surge Energy during events and/or Recover Surge after events to improve the removal of lactic acid from your muscles; this is something you will want to consider and plan for as you prepare for your weekend of competition.
KEEP MUSCLES AND JOINTS LOOSE
This may seem obvious and athletes normally warm up and loosen up before sporting events, but it becomes more important during multievent days and multi-day competitions. As you complete hard throughout the day and weekend, your muscles will want to tighten up and move more slowly. Keeping your muscles loose and relaxed early on will play a big role in how they respond during later events. There are several ways to help keep muscles and joints loose from hand messages and stretching to using a foam roller or using the costlier techniques, like an electric-stim machine. Whichever your preferred method, the key is to keep your muscles and joints loose, so they function well in those late events at the end of the competition.
There you have our four keys to success for the CrossFit Regionals or any other multievent and multiday competition that will help you keep your performance up throughout the full competition. Next, we’ll implement these four keys to success and walk step by step through a sample nutrition and fueling plan that will keep your body fueled and you performing at your peak.
SAMPLE NUTRITION AND FUELING PLAN
THE NIGHT BEFORE THE COMPETITION
Most amateur athletes use the night before a competition to pack what they will need during the competition, but they miss out on a big opportunity to help get their bodies ready to compete the following day. Some may add a few more carbohydrates to their dinner, but most aren’t considering the impact their dinner can have on their performance during the next day or next couple days of competition.
The night before the first day of competition is a time to get your body charged and ready for the hard fought weekend ahead.
We all know the impact dehydration can have on our bodies. From heat exhaustion, heat stroke, cramps, heart rhythm disturbances to seizers. Dehydration can be something very serious and dangerous. As mentioned earlier, even a slight amount of dehydration of 1% - 2% can affect your performance. The day before is a time to take in plenty of water throughout the day to help you start the weekend competition fully hydrated and help you fight off dehydration more effectively throughout the weekend.
The night before the competition is a time to consume some good carbs and lay off hard to digest foods. Although you don’t need to load up on a huge plate full of carbohydrates, it is a good idea to have some good, slow digesting carbohydrates (like beans, sweet potatoes or brown rice) that will help load up your glycogen (energy) stores. Our bodies can store between 400 to 500 calories of glycogen at a time. Much like hydration, this is a good time to load up your glycogen stores and get ready for the weekend.
Along with carbohydrates, this is a good time to have some protein too, but you should stay away from harder to digest proteins like beef. Instead, stick with chicken or seafood. Beef will take more time and energy to digest.
MORNING OF THE COMPETITION
As you wake up for the first morning of competition, you should be thinking of two things. First, if you got a full night of sleep, you probably went eight hours without drinking anything, so your body is already partially dehydrated. Second, even though you were sleeping, your body was still working, so it’s been drawing energy from your glycogen stores for the last eight hours.
As soon as you wake up, drink at least 24 oz of water to help you get fully hydrated and help get your day started off right. Although you won’t need to drink a huge amount of water at any one time, it is a good idea to have a steady amount of water to help keep your body fully hydrated.
With Breakfast, you should have a few carbohydrates to top off your glycogen stores. You will have had plenty of carbohydrates the night before, so you’re just looking to top off your glycogen stores. A breakfast with some old fashion oatmeal or whole grains with some fruit should do the trick.
LEADING UP TO THE FIRST EVENT
As your first event approaches and you get ready, you’ll want to start tapering off your hydration. About 30 minutes before your first event starts is a good time to cut back on the water to give yourself enough time to use the restroom if needed. The last thing you want is to use the restroom while you’re competing.
You may also take a small bite or drink of an easily digestible carbohydrate, but this isn’t the time to try and load up on carbohydrates now. Consuming too many carbohydrates now can actually do more harm than good at this point. Your body needs blood to digest food, which will take away from the blood your muscles need to perform at their peak. If you do take a bite of anything, make sure it will digest quickly like Greek Yogurt, a piece of fruit or our sugar free carbohydrate supplement, Glyco-Muscle Fueler.
Something else to consider is endurance and/or lactic acid buffer supplements. With competitions comprised of two, three or more events in a single day, endurance and lactic acid are two factors that will affect performance. As the day goes on and the weekend progresses, lactic acid buildup will become more and more of a factor. Having a buffer will be beneficial as the competition goes on.
Cardio Surge Energy is one option to help combat lactic acid, which has a track record of success and is specifically formulated to optimize the body’s natural energy pathways to improve cardiovascular production and endurance while removing lactic acid. Whichever supplement you choose, make sure you take a little time to do some research and know what you are using. I have seen “endurance supplements” that are nothing more than caffeine and some electrolytes, which won’t help you much with real endurance or as the competition goes on.
Once you’re done with your first event of the day, it will be time to reload and get ready for your next event.
Most competitions allow one to three hours between events, which will determine what kind of carbohydrates you can consume before your next event. If your break time is within one to one and a half hours this won’t allow enough time for digesting a big meal or heavy meals. Your best bet is to stick to something that is easily digested and/or small meals. Your focus should be to replace depleted glycogen (energy) stores quickly. If you’re allowed two hours to three hours, you may get in some more solid foods like oatmeal or pasta. Either way, I would stick with something that digests quickly. Be sure to hydrate too.
1 HOUR TO 1.5 HOURS
For when you have one hour to one and a half hour between events, you can go a couple different ways here. Again, your focus here is trying to replenish glycogen stores as quickly.
Although I wouldn’t normally recommend this, because of the sugar content, having Greek Yogurt right after your event will help you replenish used energy stores quickly. I personally like Greek’s God Greek Yogurt. It is easily digested; it has protein and carbohydrates as well as some of the major electrolytes and is high in energy at 220 to 290 calories per serving. You can top this off with some extra protein and/or fruit and get ready for your next event. The one thing to keep in mind is the sugar content. Having too much in one sitting can be harmful by creating the well-known spike in energy followed by a crash in energy. Up to two to three servings should be enough in one sitting right after your event.
If you do want something a little bit more solid, you can add granola to your yogurt or if you choose something else altogether, make sure it is easily digested and/or only have a little in one sitting. You don’t want your body to spend too much time or energy digesting food while you are trying to compete in your next event.
Another option here is a sports carbohydrate drink. By sports carbohydrate drink, I’m not talking about sugar filled drinks like Gatorade or Rock Star Energy drinks. I am talking about a high-quality carbohydrate supplement, which is designed to load glycogen stores without creating the spike then crash in energy. Glyco-Muscle Fueler is one option you may consider. Formulated using Karbolyn, Glyco-Muscle Fueler provides up to two hours of sustained energy as well as electrolytes, B vitamins and more. I recommend 1 to 2 servings with 1 serving of Whey-Pro 5 between events.
Whichever carbohydrate you choose, you will want to stay away from the typical dextrose and/or waxy maize carbohydrates, as carbohydrates have come a long way and offer much better performing carbohydrates now.
2 HOURS TO 3 HOURS
If your break between events is in the two to three-hour range, you can still follow the protocol from above, but you have a bit more time to digest more solid foods if you’d like something different. I wouldn’t go crazy here, but you probably have time at this point for old fashion oatmeal, some light pasta or a small amount of beans or rice. Like last night’s meal, say away from hard to digest proteins like beef.
After each event, you will want to repeat this reloading cycle or some variation of it until the end of the day.
END OF THE FIRST DAY
At the end of the day, your muscles have been through a tough day of competition and will need to do some healing. You can look at it as a tough day of training. After any tough training session, speeding up recovery is key. It becomes that much more important if you have a second and third day of competition coming.
The quicker you can get yourself ready for the next day of competition the better you will be able to perform. Much like the night before the tournament, you’ll want to make sure you are hydrated and you will want to load up your glycogen stores as well as get in some easy digesting protein to help repair your muscles. Following your nutrition plan from the night before will help you get ready for the second day of competition.
After your events are completed for the day and possibly after you’ve had your first meal post-completion, it’s time to start thinking about doing some extra recovery and get ready for the second day of competition. Consuming a good post-workout supplement and especially one with detoxifying ingredients like the ones found in Recover Surge, will go a long way toward speeding recovery, reducing muscle soreness and helping you feel fresher come day two and three of the competition. Adding a few servings of Recover Surge to 1.5 liter bottle of water and sipping it throughout the evening will make a difference come day two and three.
Another effective technique to speed recovery is to flush out as much lactic acid from your muscles as you can and to relax your muscles. This is an additional benefit to supplementing with a good endurance supplement during the competition. A good endurance supplement will help to remove more lactic acid and cell pollutants during the day, so you won’t have as much build-up in your muscles now. To remove more lactic acid, you can use a foam roller to help loosen up your muscle and get more blood flow going. You can also use hot/cold treatment, switching between cold and hot water in a bath or even shower helps to flush blood in and out of your muscles. Another effective method is to use an electric stim machine, which will help to relax your muscles and flush lactic acid and other cell pollutants out of your muscles. This may seem unnecessary to some athletes, but it will make a difference heading into day two and three of the competition.
There you have our four keys to success and sample fueling guide to help you perform at your peak at your next competition at the Regionals. If you have a competition this weekend, GOOD LUCK!