Nutritional advice from Chad Augustin… This photo was taken of him during his gold medal quest at the 2010 Fire Olympics.
I was standing around chit chatting after one of our regular “let’s get stupid workouts” the other day (this is when we get together and do WOD after WOD until we tap out, throw up or for us old guys, get hurt). The conversation turned to competition day nutrition. I was able to share my personal philosophy and experience. Afterwards, it got me thinking about writing a short blog on this subject.
When you say the word “nutrition”, everyone has an opinion and many people think they are experts. I do not claim to be an expert, but would like to share some general rules that have helped me.
First of all, competition day nutrition should not start on contest day. Your daily nutrition should be a vital part of your daily life, with as much effort put in to it as your workouts. I like to use the analogy of having a really nice car that requires premium fuel. It will run on garbage fuel, but will run so much better with premium. Our bodies are no different.
The week of a Saturday competition I really make sure to get in enough food. I like to slightly increase my fat and total caloric intake a bit. I am really not doing too much different than any other week though. As I back off on my workouts the last few days before the competition, I put that extra effort in proper hydration and clean eating.
I frequently compete with Hutch and Gary and they have a tradition of going out for ribs the night before a comp. In case you haven’t noticed, I think it is working well for them. They are both crushing the comps this year. Me on the other hand, I eat the same thing I eat any other day. What is important though is that we are not trying some new food that we have no idea how we will react. (You don’t want to spend the night before a comp on the toilet.) Last year, while driving down to Southern California to compete in Regional’s, Todd stopped for lunch at In and Out burger for a burger and fries. I proceeded to give him a hard time about his choice of food the day before Regional’s, but he immediately threw it back at me telling me that he was just doing what I told him to do: not change what you eat the day before a competition. He was spot on. Funny, but true.
Now let’s talk about the day of a competition. Breakfast is so important. Get in a big meal of food that you are used to eating. This meal will help fuel you for the beginning part of the day and greatly affect how you feel. During most of our competitions, we are competing every couple hours or so, which means that I need to make sure that I am not eating something that will still be sitting in my gut bogging me down. I recommend just grazing all day long. Small snacks after each workout. So what should you eat?
You can ask 10 different Crossfitters about their nutrition and get 10 different answers. This answer is very personal; one might think we’re discussing religion! Do you do Paleo, Zone, Atkins, or like my buddy Todd, the Taco Bell/In and Out Diet? This goes back to everyone having a different opinion and philosophy of what works for them. If you look at Gary, Garv and myself, we all eat a little different but you will see us eating similar foods. We are eating fruit, nuts, trail mix, cottage cheese, almond butter, beef jerky, meal replacement bars and lots of water. If we are drinking electrolyte drinks, it is diluted by at least 50%. I also like oatmeal with protein powder. Again, this is something I eat 1-2xs per day, so I know how my body reacts to it. What you should notice is that no matter what diet we prescribe to, we are eating food that we can quickly graze on that is not too heavy and be ready to work out again in a short period of time. This is not the time to try your friend’s special “protein super food” that his mom made. This is a great way to really ruin your competition. Again, think simple.
So if you were expecting me to tell you what to eat, I hope you are not disappointed. Find what works for you. Plan a double or triple workout day and then experiment with your nutrition. This is the time to learn.
Good luck champions!