Crossfit Nutrition 101
Kim Hoban is a Registered Dietitian, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, blogger at KH Nutrition, marathoner and CrossFitter. When she’s not creating recipes in the kitchen or lifting weights, Kim loves helping clients achieve their nutrition and wellness goals. Follow Kim on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat (@KimHobanRD) or shoot me an e-mail at khobanRD@gmail.com.
Part 1: Crossfit Nutrition 101
You can’t out exercise a bad diet. This isn’t new advice and while you probably can get by in your daily workouts without worrying all that much about nutrition, you certainly won’t be performing at your best. As a “anti-diet” dietitian, I stay away from the words “good” and “bad” when it comes to talking food, but if you’re putting in hard work at the gym, it only makes sense to fuel your body with foods that help you feel and perform your very best. With so much nutrition advice floating around the gym and beyond, it can be tough to know where to start. In this two-part series, I’m sharing some nutrition basics for your day-to-day life, what to focus on before hitting the gym and the best ways to recover after those tough workouts.
Although every person has unique goals, needs and preferences when it comes to nutrition and wellness, here are a few core tips I give to ensure athletes are maximizing their daily nutrition.
- Eat real food. Focusing on eating more fruits, vegetables, high-quality meat and dairy, grains and legumes leaves less room for overly processed and packaged junk. Rather than restricting or telling yourself what you “can’t” eat, try challenging yourself to try new foods and include a fruit or vegetable at every meal and snack.
- Strike a (macro) balance. It’s important to consume enough overall calories to match your activity level, as well as balancing intake from proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Even if your goal is weight loss, eating too few calories can lead to decreased immunity, depleted muscle stores and poor recovery. On the flip side, consuming too many calories can cause unwanted weight gain and feelings of sluggishness. Protein is important, but carbohydrates provide necessary glucose to your muscles (especially during high-intensity training) and healthy fats offer another energy source and reduce inflammation. You can meet with a dietitian to determine the number of calories that work best for your lifestyle and fitness level, as well as ideal ratios of each macronutrient.
- Hydrate. Water is essential for everyone, but especially important to athletes, as it helps to transport oxygen and glucose to muscles, eliminates waste in urine, regulates body temperature through sweat and lubricates joints.
- Fill the tank. We all know what it feels like to get halfway through a long WOD and bonk because you have zero energy left. Or worse, decide to hit the gym right after a big meal, and spend more time focusing on keeping the food down than on the actual exercise. The goal is to ensure you have enough fuel in your tank without having too much food or fluid sloshing around making you uncomfortable. Aim for some carbohydrate, a little protein and not too much fat. Good pre-workout options include oatmeal, dates or a banana with nut butter and Greek yogurt with fresh fruit or nuts.
- Plan ahead. Set yourself up for success by spending a little time prepping simple, nutritious foods that you can reach for when you’re tight on time. Chop and roast a few vegetables, boil some eggs and grains, cut up fruit and pre-portion nuts and seeds.
Stay tuned for Part 2: How to Refuel and Recover After Workouts. For even more info on proper nutrition for active lifestyles, visit SCANdpg.org to find a sports dietitian in your area.
*Disclaimer: The information in this post is meant to serve as general guidance and should not replace recommendations from your doctor or other health care professional. For individualized nutrition advice, consult with a Registered Dietitian.