One of the most frequent questions I get asked is, “WHAT should I eat before and after CrossFit?” An additional question the athlete should be asking is, “WHEN should I be eating before and after CrossFit?” The TYPE and TIMING of nutrients before and after training sessions are important factors to consider whether you are a competitive or recreational CrossFit athlete.
Each meal or snack before and after your workouts should contain carbohydrates and proteins. Carbohydrates (glycogen) are your body’s main fuel source and proteins are the amino acid containing building blocks of muscle tissue. Think of your body like an engine – carbs are the fuel to keep the engine going and protein contains amino acids that keep the engine running smoothly.
As a general rule, you should be eating a small meal or snack 1 to 2 hours before your workout. It really depends on how your body tolerates food intake before training. If you eat right before you workout, you could experience some gastrointestinal discomfort. Experiment with the timing of your food intake before training to determine the optimal time frame for you.
After your workout, your body needs carbohydrates to replenish the glycogen lost through training and protein to help build and repair muscle tissue.
When should you eat after you workout? AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! You have a small, 30 minute window to replenish lost stores of carbohydrates and protein. A protein shake with milk or milk substitutes (almond milk, coconut milk, etc.) is a fantastic post workout beverage with the added benefit of restoring lost carbohydrate and protein stores faster than solid food options.
Great examples of snack/meal options before and after workouts are: protein shake with milk/milk substitute, apple with nut butter, low sugar greek yogurt and nuts, and fruit paired with a hard-boiled egg, just to name a few!
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