The Open Nutrition Tips

by Dr. Mike Israetel, Co-founder and Chief Sport Scientist | Feb 19, 2018

The Open is coming up, which is a HUGE deal. To do your best, you need to make sure to train, rest, and EAT in the right ways. Now, the Renaissance Diet and our many articles on dieting right lay the groundwork of a fundamentally good diet. If you need further help creating a diet, check out our templates or even our top-tier personal diet coaching.

But once you’re on track with the basics of a sound performance diet, is that all you can do to prepare, or are there more specifics to consider when tweaking your diet for your Open workouts?

The good news is that there ARE a couple of alterations you can make to enhance your performance. Please make sure you’re already on track with a fundamentally sound diet before making these changes, because that foundation will have the biggest benefit. But once it’s there, here are a couple of changes you can make to your eating to get the most out of your performance exactly when you need it most:

1.) Eat more carbs the day before.

By increasing your levels of stored muscle glycogen, you can enhance your performance, especially in the number of reps you can do in a given time. Sounds pretty relevant to CrossFit!! By eating more carbs in the day before the workout where you want to do your best, you fill up your muscle glycogen stores and leave them ready to support your workout efforts the next day. How can you go about this? A good general guide is to eat about 1.5x the average amount of carbs you have per day on the day before your training. Now, that’s average for ALL days, training days and workout days. So, if you eat about 200g of carbs on your average day, it’s 300g for you the day before the big Open workout. If you enjoy eating more food at night, you don’t have to spread the carbs throughout the day and can instead eat the added carbs with your evening meals. This might also help you sleep better and be extra prepared the next day.

Now, a HUGE consideration to make before you take the carb plunge is how this interacts with your current diet goals (at the time of the Open). If you’re massing, no consideration required. If you’re maintaining, you might need to eat a bit stricter for a day or two later in the week after the workout to get your weight back to normal, so no big deal. But if you’re in a fat loss phase, you’ve gotta consider the tradeoffs. YES, eating more carbs like this will stall your fat loss for that day. Is it the end of the world? No. Will your fat loss resume normally right after? Yep. Will you ADD fat doing this? No way. But if you don’t want anything to affect your diet progression and losing fat is a way bigger priority to you vs. doing the open, consider either eating like 1.25 or 1.x the carb amount, or perhaps opting for a less obstructive strategy. Remember, make the tradeoff that’s important to your long term goals.

2.) Eat more carbs in the meal before.

If eating more carbs for the whole day before a workout is a bit much for your situation, you might want to just eat 1.5x the normal carbs in your pre-workout meal. This choice should especially be considered by those on fat loss plans that don’t want the delay of one whole day of carb consumption. If performance is your absolute number one goal and your weight is not a concern, doing this AND doing the day before carb-up is a good idea.

3.) Control your hydration.

Especially when eating a bunch more extra carbs, hydration can become an issue. Specifically, you might risk getting bloated from the extra intake and thus somewhat limit your performance in the events, especially gymnastics and endurance events. The work-around for this isn’t to reduce your carb-up. Rather, it’s to keep your salt intake in check. By eating saltier carbs, some athletes will experience excess bloating. Without extra salt, even 1.5x the number of carbs rarely results in a performance-dampening bloat.

The best way to keep your salt in check? Supplement your diet with healthy sources of carbs. Eat more rice, pasta, potatoes, or fruit… don’t just go straight for the chips!

4.) Mind the other recovery priorities.

This isn’t a diet tip, but it’s so important, we had to mention it. Plenty of sleep and a low-stress attitude contribute a TON to lowering your fatigue and letting your fitness express itself in high performance. Make sure to do everything in your mental powers to keep yourself as calm and relaxed as you can in the days leading up to each Open workout. External stress is often thrust upon us, but our reactions involve quite a bit of choice as to how we deal with that stress. Do your best to keep your cool and save that fire for the workout!

In the nights before (and especially the night before) your Open workout, keep tabs on your sleep and get plenty. That’s 7-9 hours for most, but what you need is what you feel you need. If you can wake up for the workout day with clear eyes and full of energy… you got enough sleep! If you’re groggy, you need to make sure to get more sleep so that you can do your best.

Lastly, and from the whole team at RP…. HAVE FUN AND ROCK IT OUT!!!!