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The CrossFit Open and Nutrition: How, When and What to Eat – BOXROX

Posted: March 11, 2021 at 6:47 am

Do you know how to eat to be primed for each CrossFit Open workout? The CrossFit Open, a three-week virtual competition for CrossFit athletes around the world, begins on March 11. The training is done and all there is left now is to perform.

Your nutrition on game day and the window before and after can have a big effect on your results, so we spoke to Dr Mike Molloy, founder of M2 Performance Nutrition and nutrition coach to over 40 CrossFit Games athletes, to break down how, what and when to eat to be primed for 21.1 and beyond.

If you approach the Open like any other day of working out except this time you have a score sheet and a judge and your main goal is to have fun, approach the week like you would any other and dont change anything from your normal routines.

Staying on track with what you usually do can reduce stress or nerves induced by competition, so all you have to do is make sure youre recovering as much as possible from each training session.

Maybe youve signed up to the CrossFit Open to perform as best as you possibly could and plan your entire weekend around it. Keeping to your routines still applies.

If you normally do your workouts at 6 a.m. in a fasted state, do your CrossFit Open workout at 6:00 a.m. in a fasted state, says Dr Molloy. Dont all of a sudden decide for the first time ever that youre going to eat breakfast before you work out that wouldnt go very well.

If for some reason youre only able to perform the Open workouts in the evening but youre used to working out in the morning, do a couple of workouts in the evening in the four weeks leading up to the Open to figure out your nutrition plan: what is it like to deal with your nutrition later in the day, how can you appropriately fuel your workouts?

Get a feel of what it is like to work out at a different time and work out how you want to work with your nutrition. Training is the time to sort details out, competition not so much.

Wed like to train like we compete to an extent, with our nutrition at least, says Dr Molloy. Dont do anything new, dont go making crazy changes. Before your first Open workout, dont all of a sudden accept a pre-workout from your gym buddies; its a terrible idea.

Just stick to your routine and know that this has set you up well to do the best in that workout.

If youre the kind of athlete who is used to training around three hours every day, the Open will constitute a big change. Many high level athletes drop their training volume dramatically the week before and throughout the Open to allow for optimal performance.

Instead of long sessions, your focus moves entirely to a single workout. Your training will go from high volume at moderate intensity to a relatively low volume but at really high intensity.

Theres a different way that you have to eat for that, says Dr Molloy. Because your training volume will have decreased significantly especially if youre planning on redoing a workout, as youll take your training easier for a whole three weeks, think to yourself if your total caloric requirement has decreased substantially as well.

I actually see a lot of people that dont really approach this the right way and gain weight through the Open. One, because theyre probably training less, and two, theyre probably stressed out like crazy and eating more food and worse food as a result of it, says Dr Molloy.

Take a moment and think to yourself: how much am I really working out this week compared to how much Im usually working out? recommends Dr Molloy. Maybe, if its a lot less, pull back on your calories a little bit. Nothing crazy, again, we dont want to be eating too little, but you can definitely overdo it with your food over those three weeks.

10 Great Tips for Success in The 2021 CrossFit Open

CrossFit workouts tend to be very high intensity: theyre not notoriously long typically no longer than 25 minutes and they make you hurt a lot. Because of this, there are a few pointers you can take into consideration when it comes to your pre-workout nutrition plan.

Pre-workout nutrition starts the day before, says Dr Molloy. Make sure you have three really solid meals, high quality foods, that youre well hydrated, and that you get to sleep at a reasonable hour especially if youre likely to spend half the night awake praying, being anxious and trying to outsmart the workout.


Anything thats high intensity is fuelled exclusively by glucose; exclusively by carbohydrates, fats really dont matter. The energy for this type of training comes from glucose within the muscle itself, very little is coming from the bloodstream or the liver, but from pre-existing muscle stores.

This is because youre going so fast, the body doesnt even have time to influx carbohydrate to replenish the supplies.

Over the course of these pre-workout meals what youve done is youve made sure that those muscles supplies are topped up, says Dr Molloy. That they have plenty of glycogen, so that when you hit the gas pedal on the workout, your body has all the fuel that needs to give it everything it wants.

It takes over 24 hours to replenish glycogen stores, so to ensure youre topped off you should eat enough the day of the workout and the day before.

If youre doing the CrossFit Open workout in the evening, make sure that your first meal of the day has a good balance of protein, fats and carbohydrates. Dont make huge changes, but stick to your normal routine as much as possible.

For lunch, youll have to be careful about when and what you eat, because there may still be food sitting in your digestive tract as youre getting into the actual workout.

For this meal, I like to keep things relatively straightforward and simplistic, says Dr Molloy. Somewhere between 150 to 200 grams of lean protein mixed with a nice, easy to digest carbohydrate option. In general, this meal might be a little bit lower on the fat side nothing crazy, we dont need to go zero grams of fat so that the food has a nice, easy time digesting and theres nothing thats going to upset your stomach.

Lean protein options include:

Easy to digest carbs include:

Around an hour and a half before the actual workout, you could consider an easy to digest snack such as:

Any option that is already processed to a point where your body will easily digest, break down and absorb the food is good.

You dont want to go into the workout feeling too full, so Dr Molloy recommends not having any really big meals within two hours of your CrossFit Open workout, otherwise you might end up seeing the food again after the workout.

Mental stress slows your digestive track down, explains Dr Molloy. If youre on edge and stressed out, your body has to prioritize actions that are necessary for your survival: blood flow to your muscles, oxygen to your lungs. Eating and digesting the food that you had three hours ago is actually a really low priority in that situation, its not necessary for you to survive, so the food just kind of sits there like a brick.

If you typically feel really stressed by the CrossFit Open or similar situations, give yourself a little bit more time to digest than normal, as itll help your body go through that process, and make your foods really easy to digest. This might not be the time for a huge serving of vegetables.

Perform your best!

Work on relaxing your sympathetic nervous system breathing work and meditation work well for many athletes so youre pushed back to your parasympathetic nervous system. This is likely to help your appetite throughout the three weeks of the Open.

Ultimately, try to stick to your routine as much as you possibly can, as this typically leads to the best results during the Open workouts.

People get themselves so wrapped up in these workouts that they completely change everything about their lives for two workouts a week, says Dr Molloy. In that lack of routine everything feels foreign: they dont know how to eat, they dont know how to sleep, they dont know how to warm up, they dont know how to cool down.

Ive found that the athletes that do the best and meet their expectations or exceed them typically just stick to their routine. Theyll go to the gym, theyll workout, theyll eat the same, theyll recover the same on the other days. They just dont worry about lifting the most weight on their back squat, or about going as fast as possible on their 5k run, they just get the work done.

Good luck!

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The CrossFit Open and Nutrition: How, When and What to Eat - BOXROX

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