Nutrition for the CrossFitter

Emily Sullivan is a Register Dietician, CrossFitter, and tri-athlete.

There are so many diets and fads all promising great results, how do I know what to believe/follow?

-there has never been, nor will there ever be a “quick fix” to get a great result. Like anything else in life, good things take time. A “great” result should be a lasting result. A diet that promises a quick weight loss should be a red flag.

A desirable diet should promote consistent lifestyle changes with lasting results over time. Anything that promises a “quick” fix for fat loss… may cause water loss and decrease muscle mass. Fast weight loss is actually dangerous because you are not just losing muscle mass in your arms, shoulders and legs… but also the muscle around your heart and other organs. “Fast” weight loss can cause issues for your organs and should be avoided. The CDC recommends a healthy weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week.

It’s not about what we can remove from our diets… it’s what we can add. When hearing ads for special diets that promote fast weight loss, think to yourself, “Is this sustainable long term?”.  Does this diet eliminate whole food groups? (example: carbs) – if so then this is not sustainable long term, therefore a red flag. Fun fact- just for the brain to work for normal daily function-nothing crazy – just survival-  you need MINIMUM 150g carb. If there is a diet that limits carbs- stay away from that. Whole grains, vegetables, and fruits (all carbs) are a crucial part of our diets and should never be avoided. We need all these nutrients to sustain life.

Lastly, any diet add that you see promoting supplements is a red flag. Whole foods should be the source of our diets, not supplements. We can receive 100% of the RDA for vitamins and minerals through whole foods alone.

Why is nutrition important for the crossfit athlete?

Protein, carbs and fats provide the proper amount of fuel to maintain energy during a CrossFit workout.

-Carbs are the primary source of fuel used by our working muscles.

-Protein is critical for building muscle and can be used for energy as well.

-Fats provide hormone regulation, formation of new cells, and energy.

If I want to do my best in the crossfit open, what advice would you give me in regards to nutrition?

A carb/protein energy-boosting snack 30 minutes before a workout can provide you with quick energy to get the workout started. Proper glycogen storage in the body is what is going to get you to the finish line strong.

Staying hydrated before, during and after workouts is crucial for your health and performance. If your exercise lasts more than 1 hour, add in low sugar sports drinks with electrolytes to compensate for what is being lost in sweat. Note: caffeinated beverages can dehydrate the body. Be mindful of how much caffeine you consume. Consider drinking 1-2L liquid daily (milk, juice, low sugar sports drinks, and other non- caffeine beverages can count toward fluid goal) Adequate fluid will decrease likelihood of cramps while aiding in muscles contraction, muscle building, and muscle recovery.

Lastly, even on off days when you are not in the gym working out, adequate nutrition and hydration is crucial for recovery.

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