Nutrition Prescription for Competition Day: First of all, nutrition is a HUGE part of competition day. Don’t count on there being food at your event. Bring a cooler and pack your own snacks and fluids so that you can perform your best with your routine foods and nutrition habits. Here’s my take, as a Registered Dietitian and CrossFit Coach, on What to Eat on a CrossFit Competition Day.
Days before the event:
Eat balanced, routine meals.
Cut back on exercise to rest.
Get good sleep.
Focus on mobility and avoiding heavy lifting and intense workouts.
The week before isn’t the time for marathons and max lifts.
Day before event:
Stick with routine meals again, don’t go overboard or hungry throughout the day.
Drink water and plenty of fluids.
Dinner should include carbohydrates, but the serving size depends on your body type, which could range from 45-120g.
Some athletes will need to change up their macronutrients during competition, depending on their regular eating habits. Reducing fat and increasing carbohydrates may be beneficial for digestibility and quick energy. If you are feeling a little low on energy due to higher intensity workouts, upping your carbs would be the way to go. I would suggest starting with an extra serving of 15 grams to see how you feel. There is definitely such a thing as “carb overload”.
What to Eat on a CrossFit Competition Day:
An option for a boost of energy is drinking a cup of coffee or taking a shot of espresso half an hour before as a little pre-workout or using your typical pre-workout of choice. I don’t advise trying a new one the day of competition.
Eat breakfast 1-2 hours before the first event
Focus: higher in carbs, moderate protein and lower fat/fiber (to avoid GI distress)
Examples of balanced breakfasts before competition:
- Banana, toast, egg, slice of ham, tomato and spinach (because I’m a dietitian and I encourage everyone to eat vegetables at all times)
- Yogurt + fruit + egg
- Bagel + 1 Tbsp peanut butter + ½ protein shake
- Oatmeal + egg whites + 2 Tbsp almonds
- Waffle + scrambled Eggs + fruit
Carbohydrate and protein servings will be dependent on your estimated nutrition needs. VERY general guidelines would be 30-65g per meal for men and 20-45g per meal for women. Adequate protein ranges from 10-40g per meal.
Have small meals or shakes on hand to sip on before and finish after workouts (does not need to be chugged right after an event).
~10g protein, 10-30g of carbohydrate, ideally
Examples of CrossFit competition snacks:
- ½ scoop protein powder with a serving of fruit
- ½ turkey sandwich
- ½ banana + string cheese
- Rx Bar
- Epic Bar + fruit
- Low fat yogurt
- Fuel for Fire
- Lean protein + potatoes, rice or pasta
Other ideas to mix into a drink: dextrose, juice or a recovery protein powder. If you use recovery protein powder, check the ratio of carbs to protein. You want close to 2:1 carb to protein. If it’s far off from that, adjust by adding carbs.
Hydration for Competition Day
Be sure to stay hydrated during the event with water. You may need liquids that contain electrolytes as well, depending on weather, how much you sweat, and intensity/duration of the event. You do not need to be drinking excessive amounts of electrolyte drinks with tons of added sugar.
Try Nuun or other zero calorie electrolyte replacements.
Basic fluid needs calculation: Half of your bodyweight (in pounds) in ounces of water.
Other nutrition related considerations and conclusion:
- Don’t eat things out of the norm before or during the competition. The day of competition is not the time to be testing new pre-workout or foods.
- Make sure you are hydrating before the competition and have a plan during the competition.
- Have a balanced breakfast the morning of the competition. Your breakfast will be dependent on whether or not you typically fast.
- Between events, eat or drink easy-to-digest protein and carbs. Avoid eating tons of fiber or fat between events.
- You don’t need to slam a protein shake right after your workout. Let your body adjust and recover. Your body will still be in a sympathetic state and not super receptive to food right away.
HAVE FUN! Whether it’s your first competition or 100th, celebrate all of the amazing things your body can do and enjoy the experience! I hope you all PR and now know what to eat on a CrossFit competition day!
Check out my CrossFit testimony; believe me, I was skeptical at first but I’m so thankful I found it!