How to Use Nutrition to Optimize your Training

If you’ve been to our group classes lately, you have probably noticed a shift in the programming. Abby- Telos Coach, WarriorRx Owner/Physical Therapist, and CrossFit athlete- has taken on writing the workouts for the group classes. The same macro-structure still applies (below) but the exercises and class structures have a different intensity. 

Maximum effort (ME) is the “heavy” work. These lifts are usually “rep maxes”. For example, 1-rep max bench (1RM bench), 3RM deadlift, 8RM strict press, 15RM goblet squat, etc. 

Dynamic effort (DE) is aimed to improve speed. You’ll do similar lifts that you do for maximum effort days however your focus is not to lift as heavy as possible but instead to work on speed. We assign percentages to these lifts (60-70% is a typical range).

Due to the shift, you may be feeling a bit sore or tired for several reasons. These reasons include:

  • Introduction of a new  stimulus 

  • Heightened intensity from the conditioning pieces following the strength work

  • New movements that are targeting different muscles you are not accustomed to 

If you want to get the most from these classes, you will need to fuel properly; this looks different for each person and depends on several factors:

  • Daily macros (total daily protein, carb, and fat intake) – for more information on macros, check out this blog:

  • Height and Weight

  • Workout length and intensity

  • How long do you eat before your workout?

For most people, one of the biggest recommendations I can give is to not do these training sessions in a fasted state; your results can be optimized by paying attention to your food intake and being properly fueled. 

What do I eat before the group class (or a high intensity training session)?

This varies a lot from person to person. It is individualized based on their habits, schedule, when they plan to train, and the factors mentioned above. However, there are a few things that are beneficial for most people:

  • Stay hydrated. Hydrate the night before and use your urine color as an indicator (aim to have a pale yellow, not completely clear).

  • Upon waking up, drink a good amount of water and as you inch closer to the training session, limit your water intake so that you don’t have to use the restroom.

  • If you’re training early in the morning, you probably don’t want to eat a huge meal and roll right into training for obvious reasons.

    • If you’re training ~30 minutes upon waking, drink an intra-workout drink (gatorade, protein/carb drink, etc). 

    • If you’re training ~60 minutes upon waking, eat a fast acting carb source with some protein, with  little to no fats. This should not be a big meal. Make sure to only eat foods that don’t cause you bloat or GI distress. Below are some examples of each:

      • Fast acting carb sources (high glycemic index): cereals, rice cakes, bananas, gatorade, dates, bread/bagel, baby food, fruit pouches, white rice. 

      • Protein: protein powder/shake, egg whites, greek yogurt

  • Pre-training meals can be consumed far in advance to your session (1-3 hours before) or closer to your training window (0-1 hour). 

    • For both cases, make these meals carb-focused. Remember– carbs are your body’s preferred fuel source. 

      • The further out you are from your workout (1-3 hours), the slower you want your carbs to digest. For this meal, try to get a mixture of high/low glycemic index carbs like grains and veggies/leafy greens. 

      • The closer the time is to your workout, the higher you want the glycemic index of the carb because it digests faster. Refer to the list above under recommendations for training ~60 minutes upon waking up. 

    • Include protein– the easiest and one of the best options is a protein shake because it is easy to digest.

    • If your pre-training meal is 1-3 hours before your session, include some fat (not a lot) in order to slow down the digestion of the carbs. If you’re eating a pre-training meal close to your training window, keep the fats to zero. 

  • If you train fasted and/or DO NOT have a pre-training meal 3 hours before your session, then a post-workout meal should be highly considered for optimal recovery between 0-2 hours after training.

    • Include protein in this meal for muscle repair and recovery. 

    • While training, you deplete your glycogen stores (stored carbohydrate in the muscle and liver). One reason you usually feel tired after training at high intensity is because glycogen stores are low. For this reason, consume high GI (glycemic index) carbs.

    • You should aim to keep fats low in this meal so that the carb digestion is faster and glycogen stores can be replenished. 

      • Fats come into play in the meals following your post-workout meal (such as dinner). As mentioned before, fats slow down the digestion of carbs. In your later meals, you want to keep the release of carbohydrates and insulin steady, which is done by including fats in your meal. 

To summarize all of our points above, here is an example of how to break up meals on a schedule: