We receive a few questions from time to time about whether or not an individual should change their nutrition for competition or game day. The answer is not truly cut and dry, and can vary! Here are some simple guidelines for whether or not to adapt, and how to adapt nutritional intake for the purpose of competing in CrossFit.
1) Avoid changing anything for the first time on the day of competition. With nerves up a little bit higher, adrenaline pumping, and likely an increased intensity in your workout(s), our GI tract can be very sensitive to any major changes to our daily nutrition. If you are trying something new with your nutrition or supplementation, be sure to do this a couple of weeks in advance during regular training sessions.
2) A good rule of thumb for a pre-competition meal (2-3 hours prior) is a serving of lean protein and starchy carbohydrates, and very little fats. Some examples could include: egg + egg white scramble and oats + berries OR potatoes + extra lean ground turkey OR beef or rice + chicken + rice. Then, within a 1-1.5 hours post competition, consuming another similar meal to your pre-competition meal.
3) During competition, if you are competing in several workouts/events, consider an easily digestible carbohydrate such as fruit juice, coconut water, gatorade, and a form of protein powder OR BCAAs/Aminos in between events. These will help you recover and replenish for the next event(s). Consuming these anywhere from after an event/workout up to 30 minutes prior to an event would be optimal.
4) Depending on the work/energy output from your competition day, can be a determining factor for whether or not you should consider a refeed with additional healthy carbohydrates to replenish glycogen levels after high intensity exercise. A carbohydrate refeed intake could look like 30-100g of extra carbohydrates on competition day depending on your current intake level, and again, the level of energy expended on game day. Try not to perceive a “refeed” as a means to over-eat empty calories or greasy, heavy foods; your body needs nutrients from whole foods.
5) Keep hydration relatively the same. If you are already hydrating at an optimal level (half body weight in ounces + 8-10 extra ounces for every 30 minutes of exercise), you should be adequately hydrated for game day. Any more than your regular hydration may cause you to visit the bathroom more frequently than you’d like!
Thinking about ways that you might change your nutrition before a competition event? Feel free to chat with one of your coaches further about competition nutrition. Everyone’s intake will vary based on several factors such as general activity level, body composition, age, and intensity of the competition event.
Fuel up, and game on!