[Dr. Lauryn Lax – Contributor]
Knowing how to eat prior to a CrossFit WOD can be challenging. But optimal CrossFit nutrition is key to getting a great workout so it’s worth taking the time to understand. You want to make sure you have enough energy to get through your training session. That said, the last thing you want to be thinking about is how uncomfortable your stomach feels or where the closest bathroom is. In general, if you have eaten a meal within a few hours of your training session, a separate pre-workout snack is not necessary unless you are feeling hungry, lethargic or focused on mass gain. Even if you think you may be a little hungry right before your workout, but you ate a balanced meal 2-3 hours prior, you may surprise yourself during your workout to find out that once you get going, that hunger as dissipated.
Why is this?
During exercise, your body taps into its glycogen stores to fuel your workout. Glycogen is initially synthesized from glucose, or sugar, during the process of digestion from your other meals and stored in the liver and muscles.
For the average exerciser, considering you’ve properly refueled in the time between your training sessions, you should have enough glycogen stores leading up to your workout so more carbs, in particular, pre-workout is generally not necessary.
If you do need a little booster pre-workout though, protein and fat can be highly effective.
Fat, in fact, is your body’s preferred source of energy, and provides this energy without changing blood sugar levels—unlike carbs.
And protein supplies amino acids required for muscle protein synthesis.
If you are going to eat something prior to your WOD, allow for adequate digestion time—anywhere from 30-150 minutes before (depending on your individual tolerance).
Here are a few pre-workout recipes to give a whirl:
Green Machine Shake
If your stomach is grumbling pre-workout, but you don’t want anything too heavy on it, a shake pre-workout can be a great option.
- 6 oz. unsweetened almond milk/coconut milk/water
- 1/2 cup chopped ice
- 1 serving protein powder
- heaping handful spinach
- 1 tbsp. coconut oil or raw almond butter
- Blend together and consume.
Turkey Meatloaf Bites
These finger food worthy bites are easy to grab and go. Pack in a small tuppe rware or wrap in foil to put in your cooler for the day and have prior to go time.
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 zucchini, grated
- 1 large carrot, grated
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 2 tsp. dijon mu stard
- 1 tbsp coconut aminos
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
- Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat and add coconut oil. Sauté veggies and spices until veggies are soft. Then allow to cool.
- Add ground turkey, mustard and coconut aminos to a large bowl and add cooked veggies. Mix well.
- Form large golf-ball size meatballs.
- Fry for about 2 minutes per side to allow a light brown crust to form, then place on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake meatballs in oven for approximately 15 minutes, until cooked through completely.
Another grab-and-go worthy option…make a batch for the week and get some protein power.
- 9 large pasture-raised eggs
- 8 oz. ground meat/sausage (nitrate free)
- 1 red/green/or yellow bell pepper
- 1/2 cup frozen kale, chard, and/or spinach
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Spray muffin tin with coconut oil cooking spray/grease with coconut oil.
- Brown the ground meat in a medium sized pan in coconut oil over medium-heat.
- Whisk eggs in a large mixing bowl, then add ground meat, peppers, kale and pepper.
- Pour the batter into the muffin tins, filling 3/4 of the way.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes.