Fueling for the CrossFit Open

sport performance sports nutrition Jan 11, 2023

By: Ken Roberts, MA, RDN, LD


Whether you're new to the CrossFit open or a veteran, make no mistake what you eat or don't eat will make a difference.


If you're a veteran of the CrossFit Games then the open is a required milestone for advancing to Regionals. Your training volume likely remains relatively high as you're training through the Open.


If you're someone who is new to the Open you might focus your training all year for the Open itself. This means the Open is where you plan to peak in your fitness and your training volume is at its highest for the year.


In both scenarios what you eat matters, and how you periodize your nutrition to match your training needs is paramount.


Periodizing your nutrition for the CrossFit Open implies having the quantity and types of food match your training volume needs.


The first thing to ensure is that you go into the training in a FED State. This means ensuring your body has enough calories and nutrients to support daily maintenance of all body systems. When you're not in a FED state, the deficit in calories and nutrients will cause your body to prioritize fueling your training vs fueling your body's maintenance.


What do I mean?

The Training Stress on your Body is the tax from the intensity and duration (i.e. volume) of your training. The food you eat will first attempt to replenish and recover from that training stress. Other systems in your body that are vital will not get essential nutrients needed for maintenance and recovery. This will lead to deficiencies and eventually failure in various systems, such as hormones, bone health, immunity, cardiovascular, and more. You'll likely experience injury, illness, and setbacks. (That won't be fixed by supplements!)


During the several weeks leading up to the Open training volume increases. Long before we reach this point we want to determine our daily fueling requirements for maintenance of our body plus our training needs. This is called our sweet spot. Click here to download our guide on determining your sweet spot fueling needs.


Once you've determined your daily fueling requirements and you're meeting those needs the next priority is how you split those needs up throughout the day. Some CrossFit articles might prime you to eat a split of 40% Carbohydrates, 30% Fat, and 30% Protein. This is a fair starting point for some people if they are focusing on quality of those nutrients. However, if you're eating fatty pieces of meat that 30% Fat and 30% Protein add up really quickly. If you're thinking healthy food is gluten free than the added sugar and fat to make up for the loss of gluten will add up really quickly as well. Quality matters. Additionally 30% protein for some people is way too much.


After you've determined your caloric needs, second is determine your protein needs. This could be a range somewhere between 1.1 - 1.9g per kilogram of Body Weight.


Second is determine your carbohydrates needs. This amount could change depending on the week's intensity of training or competitions. A beginner CrossFit athlete might eat 3-5g per kilogram of their Body Weight. For experienced CrossFit athletes around the time of the Open it's 5-7g per kilogram of Body Weight. If you find that you're training for 1-3 hours per day this range could increase to 6-10g/kg of Body Weight. For those pros training through the Open and heading to the Games, they might be training 4-5 hours a day, and could see an increase in carbohydrates up to 8-12g/kg BW.


What's remaining in your caloric needs will come from healthy fat choices.


After you've determined your split of macronutrients, next is to ensure those nutrients come from fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and fish, nuts and healthy oils and seeds. Your fasting window is irrelevant. It's all about spreading out the nutrients to optimize digestion, energy needs, sleep, and training times. What you and how much will effect everything. Pair up your foods to ensure they have Fat, Protein, and Carbs at each meal and snack to optimize blood sugar.


If you need help with optimizing your every day nutrition so you can perform your best through the Open and afterwards click here to schedule a call with us and learn how we can help you.

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