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Eight nutrition tips that will help you win Crossfit Competitions

Elisabeth

Elisabeth was a contributor on the longer article and used these tips while winning the North Central region.

Mike T Nelson wrote our book “Metabolic Flexibility for Fat Loss”; he’s kind of a smart dude.  When you buy our book, you get access to the ETP Science Lab private forum and webinars.  These are extremely valuable tools that can help you dial in your nutrition.

  1. Although we rely upon carbohydrate to fuel high intensity exercise, you don’t need to eat huge amounts of it all the time.  We value Metabolic Flexibility, or the ability to utilize both fat and carbohydrate as an energy source depending upon our activity levels.
  2. The times you do want to eat a pretty huge amount of carbs are the day before and during competition.  You need to experiment and see how your body reacts to carb loading, so give yourself a few trial runs before you attempt something like this.
  3. You may gain a significant amount of water weight (5 lbs. or so) after a carb load, so it’s a good idea to train your bodyweight movements with a weighted vest.
  4. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep before the event.  Supplements like Progenex Cocoon can help you out here.
  5. Have a small high protein/fat, low carb breakfast the morning of the competition.  A scoop of Vitargo or a banana closer to the event will flex your metabolism towards fat burning mode.
  6.  A mixture of Vitargo and Progenex recovery will make a great recovery drink after the event.  The ideal ratio of carbs to protein is 2:1.
  7. Hydration is important.  Stick to electrolyte tablets and water during the event.  An oral electrolyte solution is fine to rehydrate at the end of the day.
  8. Again, test all of this stuff out before hand!  Give yourself several months to get a handle on how you respond to whatever protocol you decide to utilize.

Check out our article on fueling your body for big workouts or competition:  “Intraday Feeding for Competition Days”

War on the Bikini Body Ideal

 

A Real Woman

If you are tired of being hungry and want to change your priorities to a mostly fed ideal that supports who you are as a person as well as your athletic goals, the Science Lab and the webinars I present will help you understand your body better.  It’s the same exact way of eating I teach my CrossFit Games competitors.  Both of those are free when you buy Met Flex for Fat Loss.

In general, I try to keep it positive, and make no mistake about it:  I like to take my shirt off during workouts and when I am at the beach.  I am happy with the physique I have earned and I have no problem with people having body composition goals, but I believe that putting performance first will take you most of the way there.  I’m reaffirmed of this every day; I am not really sure there is a larger group of folks that are lean and muscular than the one we’ve gathered in the Science Lab.

The difference between how we do it and how they do it is huge.  It’s the difference between being whole or being injured, the difference between being a functional human being or a depleted husk.  The reason is simple:  when you diet too extremely for too long, you lose muscle.  No matter what their system will tell you, you will sacrifice lean mass and that will harm your metabolism over time (especially if you are already lean and trying to get leaner).

For every physique or figure competitor that makes it to the other side, there were 100 left on the side of the road by their coaches only to be handed off to the next coach who asks them to diet in a more extreme manner.

“Oh wait…You didn’t know those were physique models?”

Let me tell you how one of these moronic systems works.  Basically, they put out a cat call for 100 or so physique competitors and since they are all mostly lean, some of them actually get shredded as a result.  The five or so that make it to the photo shoot are fucking starving.  It’s certainly not like the 30 day miracle they suggest.  No one can keep their muscle eating dramatically low calories and that is especially true for people that are already lean.

Lisa Cartwright

I love this picture because it’s a real woman with substantive change. She actually GAINED six pounds in the after picture.

What do you look like?

Are you a physique competitor at 12% body fat trying to get to 9%? If you are, you should probably get with one of those starvation artists.  Hopefully you are one of the genetically blessed ones and you don’t end up destroying yourself in the process.  (You probably aren’t though.)  Ever wonder what that will do to your self esteem or confidence? What about the people that are 30-40% trying to lose fat with these types of diets when they actually need to maintain muscle?   What happens when they look at all of these bikini pictures and attempt to starve themselves thin?  Why is there never any delineation made between a contest prep diet vs. a healthy lifestyle that supports athletic performance?

It’s Time to Get Pissed Off

Quit spending money and time on people you can’t talk to, that don’t have your overall health in mind, that actually aren’t even really good marketers.  Think about it: there are many more people that look like Lisa (the person in the header) than look like all of the under-muscled bikini women.  Too many folks think if they just shed their fat layer, they will feel better about themselves…but they never consider many other factors, like genetics or how their lifestyle affects their body composition.

People also tend to think only of the best-case scenario.  When you binge on a diet, it’s not because you are weak and you are letting yourself down.  YOUR ASS IS HUNGRY!  You didn’t fail the diet; the diet failed you, because it was trying to work against nature.  Nature wants you fed and supporting your muscle.  Muscle is favorable for performance and athleticism, but most importantly it is favorable for metabolism and losing fat naturally.

Danielle Horan

She seems pretty confident

Which Brings Me to my Last Point

There are obviously a lot of different ways to reach an end-point, but in general the best athletes in our gyms are fit and strong.  They go to bed full and they sleep better.  Their relationship with the mirror is a lot better than most because the look in the mirror is now secondary to things that are much more important.  PR’s build on confidence.  Confidence=self esteem.  

Simply put, quit giving those people money.  You don’t need to give me money either.  I just want you to eat appropriate amounts of of whole foods to coincide with your energy output.  Nature designed you a certain way, and once you make peace with that, you simply gradually work to the best version of yourself.  That starts with saying FUCK YOU to all of the cookie-cutter bikini body (for guys it’s all the ads about being 6 packed up) scam marketers and ends with you realizing your  unique potential to be strong, lean, and happy.  

GET STRONG.

WORK TOWARDS GETTING BETTER EACH DAY.

MAKE PEACE WITH YOURSELF NOW.

4 ideas on realizing your genetic potential

Dan Bailey

 

If you want to forget limiting eating ways and consider reaching your full potential as a human being here is the link for our book Met Flex for Fat Loss.

  1. Many dieting concepts prevalent in bodybuilding culture have no practical application for new trainees, and they certainly don’t set you up for optimal athletic performance.
  2. You have to have a lot of muscle on your body to look great at a low body fat percentage.  Furthermore, the levels of leanness that some people attempt to achieve are impossible to maintain.  Nobody needs to be walking around at 5% body fat unless they’re preparing for a competitive physique/bodybuilding show or a photo shoot.
  3. Genetics are no excuse not to work hard.  If you place limitations upon yourself based upon your genetics, you’ll sell yourself short.
  4. Instead of asking yourself how much more fat you need to lose, ask yourself how much more muscle you need to gain/how much stronger you need to become to accomplish your goals.

Here is the full length article “What is your genetic potential (or being Dan Bailey)

Danielle Horan, someone you will know very soon

Danielle Horan

Crossfit Games athletes have it most right already.  Danielle smoked the North East Region coming in first and then contacted me afterwards.  Many of you haven’t heard of Danielle but you will.  If Vegas had odds on the Crossfit Games I would have a lot of money on Danielle because she is going to be ready in July and she has all the tools to win the Crossfit Games.  Today we will be rooting on Erica Livett in the Canada West division.  In a very short time our book (Met Flex for Fat Loss) and the seminars and private group have made a big difference for a lot of people.  Let me just caution you though, this is a FAT LOSS group with performance first.  Our women are led by Elisabeth Akinwale, Danielle Horan and Erica Livett.  Work Capacity is our model.  The goal is to be better and Crossfit, eat appropriate amounts to fuel athleticism and let body composition come naturally.

To buy Met Flex for Fat Loss click here

This is a post Danielle put up in the private forums for our members:

Screen Shot 2013-06-09 at 8.08.19 AM

For Proteins I have Danielle using Hydrolyzed Whey Isolates (the stuff in Recovery and More Muscle) and Beta Alanine (one of the ingredients in Force).  I am going to be honest with you, this stuff isn’t cheap because it’s really good and works.  That is why we promote Progenex on this site and if you buy clicking this banner you get 10% off.

 

For carbs Danielle is using Vitargo.  If you click the banner the article goes over the benefits and how to use it.  It is a fast acting and quick absorbing carbohydrate that you drink.

Vitargo Image

What is your Genetic Potential? (or Being Dan Bailey)

Dan Bailey

If you want to forget limiting eating ways and consider reaching your full potential as a human being here is the link for our book Met Flex for Fat Loss.

(Click here to jump to a summary of this article.)

I don’t want to point any fingers…But I kinda feel like this is a long time coming.  It has to be said.  One of the reasons this site needed to happen was that a lot of people get bad information related to body composition from bodybuilding sites/forums.  They try to apply concepts that work for Mr. Olympia to guys who just started lifting last week.  Even worse is when the subject of “cutting” arises and we see guys who’re a buck thirty soaking wet attempt to get shredded.

In theory, a bodybuilding site should be about building your body.  That’s not actually what happens though; the discussion inevitably turns into a support group for disordered eating and body dysmorphia.  You wind up with a lot of guys who don’t lift all that much weight trying to diet down to their pancreases, all congratulating each other on their emaciated physiques.  (At least they have abs, right?)

Every now and again, someone suggests what should be obvious to everyone else:  yes, many of these people have visible obliques but a nice strong wind would blow them away.  That’s when steroids come up; anyone who’s ever squatted triple their bodyweight must be juicing.  It rarely ever occurs to these folks that food and strength are 3/4 of the equation as far as getting jacked is concerned.

If you haven’t seen Dan’s BroFlex advert check it out, he has been rocking the mullet during Regionals

 

Form vs. Function

This is not a condemnation of bodybuilding, because there are a lot of people out there doing it right.  They’re actually BUILDING muscle, which you accomplish by eating a lot and lifting heavy things.  At that point, if you diet down, there might actually be some meat hiding beneath your fat layer.

Make no mistake about it:  your fat layer plays a big role in how much muscle you can gain over time.  Obsessively worrying about staying super lean so your heart beats out of your chest and you look like some human version of E.T. is not optimal for building muscle tissue.  As you undergo severe caloric restriction, your metabolic function takes a beating and it can become a very real health hazard.

This isn’t an argument against being lean.  If you want to strip away every ounce of fat on your body, have at it, but don’t try to pretend that it’s normal (Why do you need to be so lean in the first place?)  or put it out there like it’s the end of the discussion.  All I’m saying is that no grown man is going to look very good at 115 lbs/7% body fat.  You need a significant amount of muscle mass first.  

When you are dieting all of the time, it takes it’s toll on your physical and mental stability and frankly, a “diet” is unnecessary to get into great shape.  If you have been to any CrossFit gym, you already know this.  Folks are ab’ed up and muscular, which is hilarious because one of the more common criticisms of CrossFit is that it makes guys small.  For all their effort, how many average Joe “bodybuilders” at your local Globo Gym look that good?

Genetic Limitations and Steroids

First of all, drugs won’t make up for a lack of work ethic.  You don’t pop a pill and wake up a world-class athlete.  Also, the use of anabolic steroids by other people does not mean you can’t work hard.  It doesn’t give you an excuse for being weak or small.    This brings me to my main point:  your genetics aren’t holding you back.  Your nutrition and training are.

I’m not only going to call bullshit, but there are several prominent examples of CrossFit Games athletes that have blown past their supposed “genetic limits”.  Of course, this is where people make two claims:  they are either genetic outliers (Let’s be honest, Rich Froning Jr. is a genetic outlier) or they are on steroids.  (Literally every single one, including the women.)  This is ridiculous if you think about it.

Now, I am not going to suggest that someone somewhere hasn’t done steroids to get better at CrossFit, but I have been to many gyms and the topic of “how to get steroids” has never come up.  It’s just not part of our culture.  Also, the incentive just isn’t there; most of our top athletes participated in some sport in college, so they were tested.  We also test at Regionals and beyond.

So how much muscle can you build naturally?  There are various ways to gauge your genetic potential, but when it’s all said and done you need to look at people who’re about the same height and build as you are.  This handy dandy chart can give you some kind of idea:

I got this chart from BuiltLean.com

I got this chart from BuiltLean.com

As far as real-world examples go, I look to Dan Bailey.  Here is Dan’s athletes profile page from CrossFit.com.  I am 5’7″, and Dan is also 5’7″.   Judging from pictures, he is rocking a body fat percentage between 8-10% at any given point.  He looks pretty shredded to most people, but in fact he is not.  (Most body builders aspire to 5 or 6%, and that is where muscle wasting becomes a problem.)

If we assume that Dan is 180 lbs. @ 10% body fat (he’s probably not, he’s probably much closer to 7-8% at any given time) then we would have to concede that he has roughly 162 pounds of lean body mass.  If you look at the chart above, that means that he is a 17 lb. outlier.  17 pounds! I will concede 5 pounds, but not 17; that is where I call bullshit.  In my opinion, when you are constantly worrying about how skinny you can, be it limits your potential.

The reason this came up is because I was talking about Dan’s lifts and someone said to me, “Well yeah, he weighs 180 pounds.”   If you are comparing yourself to someone your size, ask yourself if your training and nutrition have ever allowed for the development of strength and mass without regard for your six pack.  It’s far too common for someone to say, “If I could only lose 5 more pounds of fat…I’d be shredded!”

How About Trying This One on for Size?

Ask yourself, “What if I put on another 10 pounds of muscle?”  How much stronger would you be? How much more fat do you think you’d need to lose?  When most people take a gradual approach to adding lean mass, they come out at the other end with the understanding that they didn’t have much fat to lose at all:  they were just small. 

People need to stop limiting themselves.  Where you are now is not far enough; you can achieve a better version of yourself.  Our sport rewards strong people, and if you want to get stronger, you’ll probably need to put on a couple of pounds.  There are way too many 16 year old kids reading bodybuilding sites and getting the wrong message, which is limiting their potential along the way.   For most of them, eating like Dan does and lifting like Dan does would end up getting them where they want to go.  Instead of talking to a bunch of geeks debating the latest study on Pubmed about HGH and making excuses for their lack of progress, they’d be out hoisting massive objects and talking to women.

Summary:

  • Many dieting concepts prevalent in bodybuilding culture have no practical application for new trainees, and they certainly don’t set you up for optimal athletic performance.
  • You have to have a lot of muscle on your body to look great at a low body fat percentage.  Furthermore, the levels of leanness that some people attempt to achieve are impossible to maintain.  Nobody needs to be walking around at 5% body fat unless they’re preparing for a competitive physique/bodybuilding show or a photo shoot.
  • Genetics are no excuse not to work hard.  Steroid use by other athletes is not an excuse either.  If you place limitations upon yourself based upon your genetics, you’ll sell yourself short.
  • Instead of asking yourself how much more fat you need to lose, ask yourself how much more muscle you need to gain/how much stronger you need to become to accomplish your goals.

Intraday Feeding for Competition Days

Every single person that contributed on this article is a Science Lab member (though Elisabeth is kind of busy right now) and they add thoughts when available.  I, on the other hand, am there to answer your questions daily.  The section at the bottom that says “Mike’s Notes” is from Mike T Nelson.  He wrote our book “Metabolic Flexibility for Fat Loss”; he’s kind of a smart dude.  When you buy our book, you get access to the ETP Science Lab private forum and webinars.  These are extremely valuable tools that can help you dial in your nutrition.

(Click here to jump to a summary of this article.)

This piece is a follow-up to my two-a-day “Intraday Nutrition” article.  I’d recommend checking that out, as it’s a great start to understanding some of the basic concepts of what I will be talking about in the next few paragraphs.  I will go over some of the basic ideas behind Metabolic Flexibility, why it’s important to you, and how to apply these concepts to your nutrition around a competitive CrossFit event.

Becoming Carbohydrate Adapted

As a community, we value being fat-adapted (using fats when we rest for energy), but the fact of the matter is that we burn a lot of carbs during our workouts.  In a study by Carter, SL et al., 8 males and 8 females, fuel use during cycle ergometry was measured.  They found that the  women burn about 50% carbs during exercise and men burn about 75% (2).   Despite our reliance upon carbohydrate, we don’t actually eat extremely large amounts all the time.  Eating carbs generates an insulin response, and insulin helps transport nutrients into cells to build tissue (fat as well as stored carbs as muscle and live glycogen).  We do a lot of bodyweight movements, so gaining weight indiscriminately isn’t an option; instead, we eat most of our carbs around training, when it’s more difficult to store fat (8).    We need to be metabolically flexible enough to switch between using carbs to fuel our training and build muscle, and then get right back to burning fat.

Your body composition, Metabolic Flexibility (how well you switch between carb and fat substrate utilization), as well as your gender will play determinate roles in how much carbohydrate you need.  Lean people need a lot more carbs just to maintain a baseline of muscle capacity.  During high intensity exercises, muscle glycogen  is the primary source of energy and unless you are eating appropriate amounts of fat, protein and carbohydrate (total calories) , you just aren’t going to perform very well as an athlete, especially when your sport involves lifting weights.

That said, ingesting a crazy amount of carbohydrate that your body cannot handle is probably a bad idea, which is why you need to test this idea first.  If you do not have the time to test this protocol, don’t do it.  I’d recommend you follow an “Eat To Perform” approach to nutrition for a while before you consider employing these strategies.  If you’ve been low carbing for a while, you’ll need to improve your Metabolic Flexibility before you can take full advantage of this concept.

What to Eat the Night Before a Competition

Again, I am not a “sacred cow” guy.  I am going to lay out what I think is the best way to approach, but that may not fit with the way you eat.  Try and take these suggestions and adjust them to your lifestyle, observing one caveat:

…. if you are going to try and win the CrossFit Games taking a very low carb (50g or less a day) approach, good luck with that one. 

In other words, I don’t suggest it.  For my money, Chipotle the night before an event is great.  Certainly, you can (and probably should) prepare a homemade alternative, but a triple meat burrito bowl with extra rice and guacamole is going to be right on target to set you up for the next day’s competition.

I say this under the assumption that you have been doing this for at least long enough to know that you won’t wake up 5 lbs. heavier the next day; that won’t make muscle-ups any easier.  Even so, if you are up 5 lbs., that might actually put you in the best position to move on to the next day because your gas tank will be on “full.”  My suspicion is that for many of you, your muscles will be happy to soak up the carbs from the rice, and that the fats from the guacamole.  There are plenty of people who’d argue against having any fat during a carb load like this.  I have no problem with those people having that opinion for their sport, but for CrossFit, you don’t want insulin running amok.   In my experience, the fats calm things down a bit.

For dessert, have my cherry and pineapple coconut milk smoothie before you go to bed.  Just make sure you are using light coconut milk.  I will say there is a strong argument for full-fat coconut milk from an energy standpoint; the medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) in coconut milk is available as an energy source much more quickly than long-chain fatty acids but its effect on improving performance has not been clearly demonstrated (1, 3-7, 9) .  The case against full-fat coconut milk is that your metabolism will flex towards fat burning mode, and that will potentially slow absorption of the carbs you’re eating.  Either way, it’s something you want to play with; it’s not necessarily make-or-break.

Another and potentially better option before you go to bed is to drink two scoops of Progenex Cocoon in hot water.  Now, I want to caution you about this:  get ready to be knocked out.  Don’t take it early, otherwise you might find yourself napping at 7 p.m. the day before a big event.  The active ingredient is L-tryptophan, and I find that it allows for a good night’s sleep, improved recovery, and a slow-loading protein boost.  If you already take melatonin before a big event (It’s difficult to sleep when you’re excited!) I find this to be a better option because of the way I feel when I wake up.  Melatonin can be tricky to dose, and it will sometimes leave you drowsy the next morning.  Cocoon feels more like restorative sleep.

Pre-game Meal

Most competitions start around noon, so if yours starts earlier or later, you may have to adjust.  Similar to my two-a-day recommendation, you want to have a small meal to stabilize your system that won’t sit on your stomach during competition, so this is highly individual.  Try to put a few hours between this meal and the event.  Here is what I suggest:

  • 2 eggs cooked in ghee
  • Bacon (as many strips as feels right)
  • One scoop of Progenex Recovery and one scoop of Vitargo (the link is an article I wrote on why fast loading hydrolysates like Progenex Recovery are better for competition days)
  • One or two tablespoons of Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter

The bacon, ghee, and hazelnut butter are rich in long-chain fatty acids, which should stabilize your energy levels.  Remember, your muscles are loaded up from the rice the night before.  This meal is just to settle things in.  The Vitargo and the banana are just there as a signal to “flex” your metabolism towards using carbohydrates as an energy source, so you may want to save it for closer to competition.

The one thing I wouldn’t recommend (unless the event starts really early) is going in fasted.  This is contrary to what I recommend under normal circumstances.  Once again, you really want to test these concepts for yourself before you implement them; this is one of the variables you need to be aware of.  Also, while I know many people drink coffee in the morning, there is a strong argument to move to caffeine pills/powders or espresso shots for a more concentrated dose of the active ingredient.  Again, this is definitely something you want to test before you put your money on it.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Perfected

Elisabeth and I laughed about this in the video I did with her.  Rich Froning famously offered up that he eats a lot of peanut butter and jelly between competitions, which completely makes sense if you understand energy systems.  (Which, by the way, Rich does.)  The idea that he’s some good ol’ country boy that merley lifts weights and eats PB n’ J all of the time doesn’t really do justice to Rich’s story.  If you don’t think Rich has this stuff dialed in, you are probably wrong.  If you want to be in his league, you have to play by his rules, and his rules involve fueled workouts.  Point blank.  So let’s take a look at how we might be able to do peanut butter and jelly better.

The dosing on this is probably something you want to play with a bit, but for today, protein barely matters.  We won’t ignore protein intake, but our main concern is energy, and that will come mostly from fats and sugars we can ingest quickly.  If you can microwave this, it might go down a bit better:

  • Vitargo
    • You really want to be careful with this and test it out, because Vitargo will increase insulin levels fast.  Rich’s sugar from the jelly is only half glucose.  This will go a long way to refill glycogen lost during the event, but it could possibly make you feel sick if you take in too much at once.  So let’s do some math.  As an example, let’s say that the first event burns 300 calories.  For a woman, that would mean 150 calories of carbs were burned and for a man 225.  You basically divide by four and you have an approximate value of what you need to replace expressed in grams of carbohydrate.  One serving of Vitargo is 68 grams of carbs, so for women, it would be about 40 grams (3/4 a serving) and for men, 60 grams (a little more than one serving).  You really want to push this and see what feels most right, it’s certainly possible that you can get away with a bit more and feel right.
    • I would mix this with Progenex Recovery on a 1.5 (carbs) to 1 (protein) basis.

Wait about an hour to an hour and a half before you have the rest of this meal.  It’s not my experience that this effects your blood sugar greatly but you may find it absorbs faster after heavier WOD’s so that might mean you would want the fats a bit sooner to keep your system stabilized.

  • 4 to 5 tablespoons of Hazelnut Butter or Chocolate Hazelnut Butter
  • Ripe Banana for flavor and to top off glycogen stores

This should be seen as a broad suggestion.  Men with a lot of muscle might need more; women with a slighter build they might need less.  You have to play with it a bit to see what works best, but the idea is sound.  It’s my experience that Vitargo loads so well that you get very little blood sugar response and the hydrolyzed whey from the Progenex Recovery should give your muscles a bit of a boost.  The fats are there to provide stabilization and give you some caloric load but you want to play with that a bit and see what feels right.   If whey protein bothers your stomach and you want to get ultra-fancy, you can add about 6 grams of essential amino acids (EAAs) to the mix (but this is not a requirement.)

Post-workout Drinks

I can keep this simple:  stick to a 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein.  That’s  two scoops of Vitargo and 1 1/2 scoops of Progenex Recovery.  All whey is not created equal, and on game day you want a fast-acting hydrolysate to put you in the best position to recover for your next event.  Progenex Recovery has your back there.  The same could be said for Vitargo.  Studies have shown that Vitargo loads into the muscle twice as fast as similar alternatives.  With Vitargo, an athlete’s glycogen reserves  can completely recover within 2 hours, resulting in less weight gain (bloating) and improved athletic performance.  Similar alternatives can take double that time or even longer.

What About Pedialyte?

Whether it’s the July CrossFit Games or May Regionals in Chicago, hydration is an issue.  A lot of people think of Gatorade or similar sports drinks, but Gatorade isn’t the go-to for a lot of the athletes at the CrossFit Games.  Many are opting for Pedialyte, which is normally administered to sick/dehydrated babies.  Pedialyte is pretty low carb, but it’s also fairly high in sodium content.  Sodium is a valuable electrolyte.  One of the major drawbacks to using Pedialyte as an intra-contest drink, however, is that it’s an appetite suppressant.  For this reason, I would lean more towards electrolyte tablets for hydration purposes.  Once again, this is something you really have to test because it’s easy to get it wrong.

As an example, if you are a football player, Pedialyte is probably a great option because hydration is your biggest issue.  Someone engaging in multi-day competition has different concerns.  I’ve had several athletes remark that Pedialyte is a great option for end of day rehydration after the event, but when used during the event, they crashed or experienced symptoms of hypoglycemia.  The reason is probably due to the fact that their stomach was full and they didn’t feel like they needed to eat.  Electrolyte tabs fix this problem and have a much better nutrient profile.  This option allows you to get in some food between events so you can have sustained energy throughout the day’s events and on to the next.

Puréed or Blended Meals Between Competitions

The other option for nutrition on competition day is blended/liquefied whole foods.  The goal of these meals is to provide quick-absorbing energy.   You want a good combination of fats (85/15 ground beef), starch (sweet potato and rice), and a protein powder.  I’d suggest that you lay off the fibrous veggies, but you may find them necessary from a fiber standpoint, so play with that a bit if you need to.

You really need to view all of these options similar to the way you would a golf bag.  If you use the post workout drink as well as the “peanut butter and jelly perfected” recipe, that’s probably going to be too much food, but it’s person-dependent.

As always, you want to test this stuff out before you put it through the ringer in competition.   This is not an optional step, but a requirement!   Ideally, you will run a simulated competition day about 4-6 weeks out from the  real competition to test run everything.   When something works well, do not change it the night before the actual competition.

Frankly, I think you need about three months to get this right which happens to be about the time the CrossFit Games will come around.  This might not be a formula you can test coming up to Regionals, so keep that in mind.

Also, into the second day make sure you are getting adequate rest and once again Cocoon can be really helpful going into the second day of your competitions.

Mike’s Notes

My preference is electrolyte tabs since they allow each competitor to be more accurate with water intake instead vs. a pre-mixed item like Pedialyte—which is better if you are a powerlifter and trying to put on weight regardless (and you are not doing muscle ups.)   Plus, many athletes after hard competitions will not like the taste of Pedialyte and won’t drink it.

I found this out by helping with the RAAM (Race Across America) 7 day, 24 hours a day bike race from San Diego to NJ several years ago.   Don’t underestimate how taste of things will change.    A few guys threatened to throw me out of the van if I even showed them any type of electrolyte drink or GU packet.  There is no taste to electrolyte tabs, so you don’t have to worry, and you can adjust fluid levels as needed.    Having people add more sea salt to their food the week before and monitoring performance helps too.  Adding a lot of salt the night before can result in weird things happening, and some still think salt is evil.  I find the reverse true and sea salt can be ergogenic for sure.

To reduce fear of weight gain, have them use a weighted vest for doing muscle ups in training, even if it is 5 lbs-then mentally they have already done it so they can relax come the big day.

Summary:

  • Although we rely upon carbohydrate to fuel high intensity exercise, you don’t need to eat huge amounts of it all the time.  We value Metabolic Flexibility, or the ability to utilize both fat and carbohydrate as an energy source depending upon our activity levels.
  • The times you do want to eat a pretty huge amount of carbs are the day before and during competition.  You need to experiment and see how your body reacts to carb loading, so give yourself a few trial runs before you attempt something like this.
  • You may gain a significant amount of water weight (5 lbs. or so) after a carb load, so it’s a good idea to train your bodyweight movements with a weighted vest.
  • Make sure you get a good night’s sleep before the event.  Supplements like Progenex Cocoon can help you out here.
  • Have a small high protein/fat, low carb breakfast the morning of the competition.  A scoop of Vitargo or a banana closer to the event will flex your metabolism towards fat burning mode.
  •  A mixture of Vitargo and Progenex recovery will make a great recovery drink after the event.  The ideal ratio of carbs to protein is 2:1.
  • Hydration is important.  Stick to electrolyte tablets and water during the event.  An oral electrolyte solution is fine to rehydrate at the end of the day.
  • Again, test all of this stuff out before hand!  Give yourself several months to get a handle on how you respond to whatever protocol you decide to utilize.

References

1)      Angus DJ, Hargreaves M, Dancey J, Febbraio MA. 2000. Effect of carbohydrate or carbohydrate plus medium-chain triglyceride ingestion on cycling time trial performance. J Appl Physiol 88: 113-119.

2)     Carter ,S. L., Rennie, C., Tarnopolsky,  M. A. “Substrate utilization during endurance exercise in men and women after endurance training.”  Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab  280: E898–E907, 2001 http://ajpendo.physiology.org/content/280/6/E898.full.pdf+html&gt 

3)     Goedecke JH, Clark VR, Noakes TD, Lambert EV. 2005. The effects of medium-chain triacylglycerol and carbohydrate ingestion on ultra-endurance exercise performance. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 15: 15-27.

4)     Goedecke JH, Elmer-English R, Dennis SC, Schloss I, Noakes TD, Lambert EV. 1999. Effects of medium-chain triaclyglycerol ingested with carbohydrate on metabolism and exercise performance. Int J Sport Nutr 9: 35-47.

5)     Horowitz JF, Mora-Rodriguez R, Byerley LO, Coyle EF. 2000. Preexercise medium-chain triglyceride ingestion does not alter muscle glycogen use during exercise. J Appl Physiol 88: 219-225.

6)     Jeukendrup AE, Thielen JJ, Wagenmakers AJ, Brouns F, Saris WH. 1998. Effect of medium-chain triacylglycerol and carbohydrate ingestion during exercise on substrate utilization and subsequent cycling performance. Am J Clin Nutr 67: 397-404.

7)     Jeukendrup AE, Saris WH, Schrauwen P, Brouns F, Wagenmakers AJ. 1995. Metabolic availability of medium-chain triglycerides coingested with carbohydrates during prolonged exercise. J Appl Physiol 79: 756-762.

8)    Rasmus Rabøl, Kitt Falk Petersen, Sylvie Dufour, Clare Flannery, and Gerald I. Shulman “ Reversal of muscle insulin resistance with exercise reduces postprandial hepatic de novo lipogenesis in insulin resistant individuals.” PNAS 2011 108 (33) 13705-13709; doi:10.1073/pnas.1110105108 http://www.pnas.org/content/108/33/13705.long

9)     Vistisen B, Nybo L, Xu X, Hoy CE, Kiens B. 2003. Minor amounts of plasma medium-chain fatty acids and no improved time trial performance after consuming lipids. J Appl Physiol 95: 2434-2443.ml>.

Elisabeth’s Akinwale’s ahtletes page competition

Elisabeth Akinwale

Firstly let me say that I am doing this because I think it will be fun and frankly I think it’s ridiculous that I have 130,000 likes on Facebook and the best and most athletic women in Crossfit don’t.

With that said:

This is Crossfit, so this is a competition.  I was talking to Elisabeth yesterday and I left that conversation thinking “more people that Crossfit should really know Elisabeth”, she is helping us do something real cool for Eat To Perform.  So here is the deal, by midnight tomorrow (central standard time) if Elisabeth has more facebook likes than Julie Foucher I will donate $500 to Steve’s Club, if she surpasses Annie Thorisdottir I will donate $1000.  I am doing this on my own, I haven’t talked to Elisabeth about this but I thought it would be fun to see how this plays out.

This is the link to Elisabeth’s athletes page on facebook.

http://www.facebook.com/akinwaleelisabeth

No one loses here folks, most of you probably didn’t even know some of your favorite athletes have facebook pages.  Certainly Steve’s Club stands to benefit in a big way because many of you might not even know much about Steve’s Club or that they take donations.

If you want to donate to Steve’s Club yourself here is the link to do that.

My thoughts on Camille as it relates to the Open

Camille-Leblanc-Bazinet-19

In last nights Science Lab seminar Julia Ladewski and I were talking to a Crossfit Games Competitor and I used Camille in the example.  I don’t know what the weight difference is for her from previous years but she seems both stronger AND more athletic.  So added weight isn’t always a negative as it relates to athleticism and specifically gymnastic movements.  For info on how you can attend these seminars online click here.

In this article I talk about how people that do Crossfit might not want to be completely shredded.

I was at a competition in October watching a few people from my gym and one of my friends said “wow, that guy is diced up”, I then said “cool, that’s one less guy you have to worry about”.  He was puzzled, the guy in question was strong as an ox and had great form but when you get that low as it relates to body fat it isn’t favorable as it relates to your metabolic conditioning.  The guy started out with a bang and I thought for a second I might be wrong, maybe he was an outlier.  Nope, getting diced up isn’t great for reaching your potential in Crossfit.

Which brings me to Camille

I think we can all agree she doesn’t look manly in this picture right? She also isn’t shredded.  Camille has been strongly pushed by Crossfit HQ this year and her progress is noticeable.  She came in 2nd overall in the Open WOD’s and she has to be a strong candidate to win the Crossfit Games this year.  She is noticeably stronger and more athletic.  When people think of Crossfit athletes they tend to think of bulging muscles and cut and chiseled abs.  It’s my opinion that Camille did so well in the open precisely because she isn’t diced up and if you are looking to increase your performance in Crossfit maybe the middle road is a better path for you.

Check out the article on Camille at WODTalk

Intraday Eating for High Intensity Athletes

I realize some of this will be difficult to understand the “WHY’s” which is exactly why the Science Lab exists.  The Simply Pure Nutrients products I recommend in this article get you a free Science Lab membership where you can ask me questions on this protocol.  Here is that info.

This example is going to be for someone doing Two-a-days (also this article is summarized at the bottom)

As you are reading this remember I am writing it for advanced athletes.

In this post I am going to explore some possibilities for intraday eating for two-a-days and athletic competitions. I am gearing this towards high intensity athletes.  There are adjustments that you would make as a marathoner or a long runner, but mostly the goal is to replace lost energy in a relatively quick manner that will allow athletes to recover during competition.

This will stray a bit from my standard recommendations, but if you look closely the principles are still there.  Even though I add protein, the two main factors here are foods you use for energy, namely carbs and fats.  Last disclaimer, don’t just show up at a competition and do this, every person is different and you really need to make subtle adjustments that feel right.

Loading Before Your Big WOD Day

This goes along with my standard recommendation, on the day before WOD’ing, eat mostly fats and proteins throughout the day and then load with something like sticky white rice when you back load in the evening.  The amount doesn’t need to be excessive, but white rice is an excellent option here.  You can go sweet potatoes or ripe bananas but I don’t like that as much because the white rice is a more pure glucose source to load your muscle for the next days activity.  Also I really think the MCT’s from my coconut milk smoothies will really help your a.m. weight lifting session.  So in this example you would have a lean meat meal with white rice (for me this often looks like chipotle) and then coconut milk smoothie before bed.

Breakfast

On two-a-days I suggest eating a small breakfast of fats and proteins so a couple of eggs and bacon probably are fine.  Think of it more like a snack with the intention of comforting your system. I also like coffee (espresso), caffeine pills, or caffeine powder here as long as you don’t over do it.  Once again, experiment with what feels the most right.  Remember that I often recommend training fasted in the morning and if you are going to start strength training really early fasted, just get meals in afterwards and eat bigger.  Also consider adding in something like Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter and a banana.  So for early fasted trainers coffee (espresso is great, Vivarin and Caffeine Powders might actually be better options just be careful) is fine but try and space that a bit from the Creatine suggestion below.  For people eating a meal before weight training the eggs and bacon (potentially with a banana and chocolate hazelnut butter) would be eaten approximately 2 -3 hours before.

Sweet Potato Mix

Post-WOD

Assuming that your training session is an hour or longer, definitely have carbs post workout.  For comfort, ease and nutrient profile you can’t beat the Sweet Potato Recovery Fuel from Simply Pure Nutrients.  Here is a break down in a single serving:

  • • Fats – 10 grams (basically 90 calories of fat that help give you a slow the uptake of the nutrients you are trying to get into your body, I do know that people suggest the opposite but I believe they are wrong in this instance)
  • • Protein 12 grams (egg white protein which is a nice diversion from whey protein from an amino variety perspective)
  • • Carbs – 28g

The reason why I like this so much for athletes is that it is really balanced and looks and acts more like real food in an instance where an athlete needs energy density rather than nutrient density.  I am cool with eating nutrient dense a lot of the time, but it would be a mistake to solely rely on that in situations like this.  Additionally one of the great benefits is that you can just add it to water and go.  It also tastes extremely good which is a significant factor, choking down bad tasting stuff won’t help you long term.  If you’d rather eat whole foods, go with something that has similar nutrition profile just know that it won’t be as optimal as the drink from an absorption standpoint.   

Nutrition Between Sessions

Your first meal after your workout session was a supplement and that likely went a long way to stabilizing your system so the next meal (or possibly meals) should be heavy with long chain fatty acids like butter and ground beef.  There should be enough fat in this meal that if you want to add a little carbohydrate for balance you can, just don’t get too excessive with it because it could interfere with your evening WOD.  Also this might seem like a good spot to have fibrous vegetables but I probably wouldn’t recommend eating them until after your evening WOD if at all on this day.  This day is devoted to energy and hopefully you are getting enough of that stuff on your other days.

For me the money spot would be a four egg omelet cooked in ghee with 10 ounces of grass fed 85/15 ground beef with taco seasoning (sodium is the friend of athletes though I halve the recommendation on the packet) with a little mild taco sauce.  This is a great meal to set you up throughout the day.  Also remember this isn’t a standard recommendation, your version might look a little different but what I am saying is you need to eat hearty in this meal, pulled pork or a ribeye also works.  Lean chicken breast, not so much.

If you WOD at say 4pm you might not need a snack, but if you WOD at 6pm or 7pm I would definitely recommend something.  One thing I like here is a Ritter’s Hazelnut Dark Chocolate bar.  Some kind of Almond Bar would also work.  Combine that with something like GT’s Synergy Kombucha and I think that is a good pre-workout balanced snack, not a lot of protein but the focus is energy.

Ritter Bar

synergy drinks

Evening WOD and Meal

Because you focused on energy throughout the day you should be able to Rx the WOD, but if you aren’t feeling 100% because the morning session took a lot out of you, don’t let your ego hurt you.  Just use this session as a good way to clear some inflammation and get in a good cardio workout, modifying down if needed.

Sweet Potato Pro3 Combo

Post WOD recovery I like something like Simply Pure Nutrients Pro3 product but Elite also works.  Both of these products are not overly sweet by design which means you have a lot of options as it relates to flavoring.  I am going to use the Coconut Chocolate Pro3 in my example because that is my favorite (it is so damn good).  I use about 10 ounces of Trader Joe’s Light Coconut Milk (you could also use Native Forest light but the ingredients on TJ’s is coconut milk and water, so I like that).  Add a banana or a teaspoon of dextrose (it might not need it) for flavor and look out, you will love it.  You could also use coconut water here and that would taste phenomenal but it wouldn’t blunt the spike from the protein quite the way I would like to do for this protocol.  I also don’t like almond milk here because of the poly-unsaturated fats but if you have to it’s not horrible. The reason is simple, the next day is a rest day, or in nutrition parlance, it’s a control day.  The purpose is to set up an atmosphere in your body that is stable after you just beat the snot out of it where you will be relying on mostly fats to aid in your recovery and flush out inflammation.

The next day, should be focused on fats and proteins.  If you decide to WOD, just modify down.  As a guy if I feel like WOD’ing on this day I tend to do the women’s weight to get in a good cardio workout.  That said, you should rest, it ain’t going to kill you.

Summary:

Day Before

  • • Eat mostly fats and proteins throughout the day and then load with something like sticky white rice

Morning Pre-WOD

  • • Early morning fast or a small, snack-like meal for a session around 9 or 10am (fat and protein content) to comfort your system

Post-WOD

  • • Post Workout Drink using a product like Simply Pure Nutrients “Sweet Potato Recovery Fuel”

Nutrition Between Sessions

  • • A hearty meal with long chain fatty acids, avoid lean meats if possible.
  • • Small snack as a bridge between AM lifting session and PM WOD.  Keep sugars or eat them with fat low to avoid hypoglycemic type symptoms when you are WOD’ing.  (like the candy bar example)

Post-Evening WOD

  • • Drink a recovery drink with protein and carbs blunted with coconut milk
  • • Eat fats and proteins and keep carbs low

Other Thoughts for High Intensity Athletes

  • • Take a look at my Creatine dosing suggestion. Now don’t show up at Regionals popping Creatine capsules, you might not like the result.  Think of it as part of your preparation.
  • • Follow the Outlaw Way. Rudy Nielsen has written more about training than I will likely ever learn.  The workouts he prescribes allow athletes to get better at a specific sport and that sport is Crossfit. It is available for everyone to see and the athletes he trains do it, and some of the best Crossfit athletes (including Elisabeth Akinwale) are in his stable.  So it’s a great resource for varied training.

http://www.facebook.com/TheOutlawWay

  • • If you are going to add strength training to your regimen let me propose that it should be in the morning and it should be done slow, I like Eustress Style Training for this reason.
  • • Do you really need to kill yourself with two-a-days?  Something I think is a big mistake is not allowing for adequate rest.  Athletes try and run themselves into the ground in an attempt to get ready for Regionals or The Crossfit Games and get toasted by the athletes that already know what’s up.

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