Nutrition Tips for High Intensity Training


Open season is here! The CrossFit Open is run in every CrossFit affiliate worldwide, there is a lot of hype and excitement for every CrossFitter at this time of the year and whether you are part of the 1% that will qualify for Regionals to have a shot at the Games or like the rest of us just aiming to do our very best each week nutrition can make all the difference, not only to how you feel on the day but how you recover and how well your body holds up over 5 weeks!

We may not know what the workouts are but we do know they will all be tough and make us test different skills and fitness components to the limit! Ensuring your nutrition is on point will help you in 18.5 the same way it did in 18.1 – while also keeping up your training in between events!

The Open, from a nutritional standpoint, is all about fuelling and recovering. To do this you need to make sure you are eating ENOUGH food. We don’t recommend any of our clients that are taking part in the open reduce their macros during this time. The focus now is what foods can I eat and when to sustain the competition. We know each workout will be very demanding and attempting on calorie deficit won’t let you bring the same intensity and could impact your recovery.

So what do we recommend our clients do come Open time? Before we get to that know that you don’t HAVE to change anything. These are just some general recommendations, many of which you may already be doing! If you are feeling good in your training and happy with your energy levels there is something to be said for sticking to what you know.

The day before

Increase your carbs by 50% the day before you hit The Open workout. These workouts are challenging and performed with competition intensity so you will be relying heavily on your glycogen stores – getting in the extra carbs the day before will ensure these stores are full come game day. We recommend hitting you carb goals with whole grains – oats, sweet potato, brown rice, quinoa and staying away from refined carbohydrates which can cause bloating. If you are working with a coach, first make sure they recommend this approach for you!

I.e If you usually have 200g per day the day before the Open this would increase to 300g (200 x 1.5).

Open Day

This is the big day!

You will be able to utilise some additional carbs today as well. A general recommendation is to have an additional  ½ BW pre and post workout. So if you weigh 60kg you can have up to an additional 30g before and after your workout.

If weightloss is one of your goals and you are worried about the additional intake of carbohydrates from the day before and the day of your workout you can deduct the total g of additional carbs you have consumed over these two days from your allowance the day after. This will mean you are hitting your quota across the week.

Tips for pre-workout

The timing and manipulation of the amounts of protein carbs and fats you have pre workout could be what gives the extra edge and optimise your performance.

TIP FROM KAYLA: Beetroot is great to include in your pre workout nutrition as it increases nitrate oxide production in your body which expands your blood vessels and increases oxygen to your cells.

2-3 hours before your workout

This time-frame gives you time to digest and supplies your body with vitamins and minerals for optimal organ and muscle function. This is the time for a ‘meal’.

  • Carbs: Whatever the workout entails eat a mix of high and low-GI carbs.
  • Protein: Exercise damages muscle tissue, but protein keeps amino acids stocked while promoting protein synthesis. Make sure this meal includes a bit of lean protein.
  • Fats: Fat slows the digestion of food so eat some but keep it minimal. This will ensure that the protein and carbs you’re eating are more effectively utilised.

30 minutes before your workout

If you need to eat within an hour of your workout – say you are completing early in the morning.

  • Carbs: With less time to digest whole food, stick with high-GI carbs. Examples include (but are in no way limited to) white rice, fruit, baby food, fuel pouches, carb/protein shakes. They digest easier and absorb quicker.
  • Protein: Protein is important and we recommend opting for a whey protein shake because it is fast digesting.
  • Fats: Fat should be mostly avoided this meal, it further slows digestion and you want those nutrients utilised as quickly as possible!
  • Caffeine: Coffee or pre workout if you are taking something to give you a boost now is the time!

Post workout tips

After each workout, you’re going to feel hungry and your body is going to want all the food it can get to begin the recovery process. So when the body settles, ensure your get those easy to digest nutrients in and that you can have those extra macros as needed to feel good and so we can stay strong over the next few weeks.

0-2 hours after your workout

This meal enhances your recovery for the next day and the earlier you can refuel, the better! The Open is more challenging than your average day at the gym and your body won’t be recovering as quickly as usual. The sooner you’re refueled and kicking into ‘recovery mode,’ the more prepared you’ll be for the next workout.

Carbs: Carbs replenish glycogen stores, particularly right after a heavy workout. This is when you want to get your simple carbs in – bananas are great as they are high-GI so will act quickly to restore that glycogen.

Protein: Eat protein ASAP. Protein will continue promoting muscle maintenance and growth. The easiest option for this time frame is a protein shake.

Fats: Keep fat intake low here: Fat will slow the release of glycogen and decrease the rate of  protein and carb digestion (which means a longer time before your fuel can aid in recovery!)

2-3 hours after your workout

This is when you can have a proper meal, which includes protein, complex carbs (sweet potato, rice etc) and fats. Ginger and turmeric are perfect to include with this meal as they have anti-inflammatory properties which will lessen the effects of muscle damage that the Open workout may have done to your body.


If there was ever a time to up your hydration game it is now! Guaranteed that without hydration, your performance during the CrossFit Open won’t go as well as it could. The workouts themselves will significantly decrease your electrolytes. Up your regular water intake (we recommend our clients aim for 3L per day), include coconut water in your post workout nutrition (is a carb) and add himalayan salts to your water as this will increase hydration and get in more minerals to your system.

As we heard from James Newbury during our Open Nutrition  FB Live event. Stick with what you know. If your current diet works for you then don’t make drastic changes. Now is not the time to reduce calories, try new foods or or add new supplements. Sudden changes in diet can cause your body to retain water, have a negative impact on your performance or both. Have a game-plan. Ensure you have a supply of any supplements you want to use and prepare your meals ahead of time.

Hope this helps and gives you some ideas of how you can optimise your nutrition for your next Open workout.

Good luck for 18.2 x