What Should I Eat Before These Workouts
Let’s talk about it. But first, some ground rules:
Rule 1: You know your body best.
I’m a registered dietitian, exercise physiologist, and food science nerd. But you are an expert in your own body (and the stuff that really matters, like allergies, intolerances, your likes and dislikes, cultural food preferences, your food budget, how certain foods make you feel, your overall health goals, etc.). A diet recommended by CrossFit HQ, your favorite coach, or an IG influencer might not (probably won’t) be perfect for you in every way, you beautiful unique human, you. This is general advice, and not intended to diagnose or treat anything. Capisce?
Rule 2: Nutrition is a performance building block, not a band-aid.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” -Will Durant. Food, supplements, and your “go-juice” of choice will only do so much. Your daily habits (how you sleep, hydrate, mobilize, train, manage stress, and drink – or don’t) matter more than what you do once.
Now for the good stuff.
THE DAY BEFORE
Do eat balanced meals that include some colorful veggies (for antioxidants/anti-inflammatory power), protein (for repair), and complex carbs (for fiber, sleep support, and energy). Here are some examples. Your mileage will vary:
– One or two fistfuls of veggies: stir-fry peppers, roasted beets or carrots, leafy greens, bok choy, broccoli, or green beans, oh my!
– A palm-sized portion of protein: your meat, fish, tofu, etc. of choice
– A fistful of complex carbs: rice, potatoes, beans, fruit, bread/grains, and more are all fair game.
Do hydrate. Water is best. Sparkling water and herbal/fruit teas are also great choices. You probably don’t need electrolyte drinks – you’ll get all the carbs/electrolytes you need from your balanced meals. Avoid alcohol and caffeine close to bedtime as both will muck up your sleep quality.
Don’t “carbo-load” or eat large, heavy, or fatty meals. A 15:00 workout is not a marathon (though to most of us CrossFitters it sure feels like it!). Your stomach will thank you tomorrow.
Do eat before your heat. You’ll need to follow your gut here, literally. Some athletes can eat a ton before an event and be fine, others will suffer severe GI consequences. Your body needs mostly carbohydrates, maybe a little protein, and fluids to get you through an open workout.
– If you have several hours before your event, complex carbs are great. Think oatmeal, yogurt with fruit/granola, or toast with your topping of choice.
– If you’re rolling out of bed less than an hour before your assigned heat, choose simple/quick-burn carbs like bananas or fruit snacks.
Do hydrate. Your performance drops significantly even with a 2% reduction in body fluids. How do you know if you’re hydrated? Pay attention to your pee.
Do follow your usual routine as far as foods, supplements, and caffeine go. If you usually drink coffee before a workout, do that! But…
DON’T TRY NEW FOODS ON GAME DAY. Every distance runner can share a story about the time they nearly (or did) poop themselves because they ate something new before a race. Now is not the time to experiment with new foods, supplements, or pre-workout. Just don’t do it.
Looking for more? Check out the credible sources below or find an RD if you need more personalized information.
Remember, you know your body best. Fuel with what feels good, get some good sleep, drink some water, and let’s have some fun tomorrow!
Maia Kurnik, MPH, RD, ACSM-CEP
What other nutrition info do you want to see on the blog? Let us know in the comments!