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Nutrition for Crossfit Athletes during Crossfit Regionals

  • 9/9/2013 10:28:00 AM
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Nutrition for Crossfit Athletes during Crossfit Regionals

Michael LaMantia, M.S., CSCS

The Crossfit Regionals event consists of seven workouts through three consecutive days.  The workouts include Olympic weightlifting, gymnastic movements, powerlifting movements, and overall athletic movements found in any athlete’s training regimen.   Crossfit Regional is highly anaerobic and partially aerobic at times.  The intensities for each workout are in the 80-95% range for VO2 max (maximal oxygen uptake), especially at the elite level.  Glycolysis begins very quickly in these workouts and continues throughout the workouts, which average 8 minutes and 48 seconds. Lactic acid build up quickly accumulates in the first 60-120 seconds, and the “burn” begins.  Nutrition for these events is paramount in the optimal performance throughout three days of seven total workouts. suggests a diet of 30% protein, 40% carbohydrate, and 30% fat; this however is just a recommendation for daily dietary needs, not a competition diet.  Crossfit has no recommendations for competition diet.  Energy expenditure during the workouts is almost exclusively carbohydrate oxidation or glycogen oxidation, and after the workout highly fat oxidation.  Total calorie expenditure during a day of regional workouts is not known, but probably ranges between 2500-3500 kcal. The recommended increase in percentage of carbs is from 40% to 60% and a slight decrease in protein percentage by 18%.  Keep it simple when it comes to planning the foods a crossfit athlete will eat during the days of competition.   The athlete has two scheduled workouts the first day, three scheduled workouts the second day, and two scheduled workouts the third day. Suggestions for dietary plans are as follows:


Day 1: two workouts/warm ups. 

Breakfast:  2 whole grain bagels with organic cream cheese, 15 ounces of orange juice,

Post workout: Advocare Post Workout Recovery Shake© with whole grass fed Jersey cow milk

Lunch: 1 banana + 200 grams pure honey

2nd Post workout: Advocare Post Work out Recovery Shake© with whole grass fed Jersey cow milk

Dinner: 1 cup tuna salad + 1 whole pineapple (905 grams) without core.


The goal of the diet is to replenish glycogen stores in the muscle and liver.  Additionally, it aims to keep the insulin response to food at a minimum before exercise, and to time meals so that high glycemic snacks can be eaten either during warm ups or right after start of direct competition.  The review article links given below refers to rowing competitions, which have work intensities/capacities similar to crossfit competitions.  Average rowing events range from 5-10 minutes, which is comparable to crossfit event lengths. 

The athlete’s state of hydration must be covered during and before competition.  Most competitions are held outdoors or in crossfit gyms with very poor air conditioning.  Loss of electrolytes and fluids become limiting factors in competition.  The recommended dose of fluids is 1 liter of water for every 2 pounds of sweat lost as a general rule for any post workout.  The athlete should weigh before and after workout to determine exact fluid loss.  Another suggestion is to add 200mg of baking soda per kg of body weight to delay the accumulation of lactic acid build up within skeletal muscle and blood volume. Crossfit competitions are a challenge for most athletes, and this is a guideline for any would-be competitor in this field.  Information on crossfit nutrition is very limiting, but more information can be found when cross-referencing other sports like short/long distance rowing, and other similar types of sports. 


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