The Open

Pre and Post Workout Nutrition

Let’s talk about nutrition for workouts!   If you want to perform at your absolute best each day, nutrition could be THE THING that separates you from the pack. What we eat matters.  Food can help us to fuel and recover from our workouts.  It does not have to be rocket science, and it does not have to involve counting macros either, but we should be paying attention to what we are putting into our bodies to get the most out of our training.   If you ever feel like you are hitting a wall during a workout, experiencing nausea, or noticing slower recovery, then taking a deeper look at your workout nutrition could really help you out!

It is not as important what you eat right before or after a workout, but what you are eating throughout the entire day that matters most. The more diversity you have in your diet of whole foods, varied protein sources, and micronutrients from fruits and vegetables, the better! Nutrient timing for a workout can help, but it is not going to radically change your performance or physique if you are eating low nutrient foods the rest of the day.

The recommendations that will be laid out will apply to ‘most’ people following a standard diet.   Of course, every body is different and just because one thing works for one person, does not mean it will work best for you.  It is always worth testing a few things out with both foods and nutrient timing to find what makes you feel and perform your best. 

Let’s get into some of the science first. The human body prefers to use carbohydrates as its primary energy source, for mind and for muscles.[1] It is the most readily available and the easiest for it to access.  The role of eating carbohydrates before exercise is to provide immediate and lasting energy, preserve muscle and liver glycogen, and stimulate the release of insulin (when combined with protein) which improves protein synthesis and prevents protein breakdown.  This is why it is most common to place extra carbohydrates before and after your workout, along with a little bit of protein. [2]  We try to keep fats lower in our pre and post workout meals because they tend to slow digestion and interfere with the absorption of the carbohydrates.[3] 

A good goal for pre workout nutrition would be to eat a mix of high and low glycemic carbohydrates with some lean protein, in the 1-2 hours before your workout. For a great list of high and low glycemic index carbs click HERE. The high glycemic carbohydrates will be easy to access right away, while the lower glycemic carbohydrates absorb more slowly and can provide lasting energy without spiking insulin. To keep fats on the lower end we would want to avoid things with higher fat contents around the workout windows. Examples of items high in fat could be anything more than 1 TBS nut butter, 2+ pieces of bacon/sausage, 2+ whole eggs, certain protein or meal replacement bars, beef burgers, pastries, breakfast burritos, fried foods, lots of cheese or full fat dairy. Some ideas for a pre workout meal could be:

  • skinless chicken breast/turkey + rice or sweet potato + steamed leafy greens or veggies

  • cold soaked or instant oatmeal + nonfat Greek yogurt + half banana

  • rice cake, bagel or whole grain toast + 1 TBS nut butter + jam + part of a whey protein shake

Note: If you are short on time and need to eat within 15-30 minutes of a workout, opt for something fast digesting and small, like a Fuel for Fire squeeze pack, dates/figs, applesauce, or a banana. Alternately, you could have a whey protein shake or BCAA drink here and try get more carbohydrates in AFTER the workout. 

Speaking of after the workout, what are we looking for in a post workout meal?  We want to aim for a similar set up here and eat/drink something with both lean protein and higher glycemic carbohydrates within 1-2 hours following training to replenish our depleted glycogen quickly and prevent protein breakdown. This will help us maintain and build our muscles! 

We have lots of options at the gym to fill your needs if you forget to plan out your meals, such as Ascent Protein (whey – fast absorbing, and casein – slow absorbing), Fuel for Fire, Kill Cliff/Fit Aid drinks and MUSH overnight oats.

Any suggestions in this post are from my own education and experience as a nutrition coach. You should always consult with your doctor if you need specific guidance or recommendations on your nutrition.

Happy Training!

-Coach Amy Locati

[1] Alan Aragon, The Lean Muscle Diet (USA, Rodale, 2014) 23.

[2] St. Pierre, Brian, Precision Nutrition ,“Workout Nutrition Explained”, Accessed October 2019.

[3] Working Against Gravity, Nutrition Guide, Accessed October 2019.

The F Word !?!

I’d like to weigh in on a word and certainly an emotion in which we can all readily identify….

FEAR – As defined by Webster’s dictionary; An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain. I would like to share a little bit of perspective on fear. I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about fear during my struggles with substance abuse, PTSD from my time in the Marine Corps, competing in MMA as well as my time spent in CrossFit. I began to ponder whether fear itself was real. Why do we have fear? Why is it so crippling and yet can be the motivating factor to the very freedom in which we are seeking?

Is fear real? The short answer is no. Fear is a response in our body to a perceived danger in our environment. However, danger is real. Fear primes you to react in the most efficient way possible for survival. Most who struggle with pervasive fear have encountered a dangerous or near-lethal event(s) in which fear saved their life. In this context, is it any wonder that people lean towards cautious trepidation when sensing danger? Absolutely not, and I would tell you that your experience is valid, understandable and pretty normal. You can, however, get stuck behind the “what if ” wall; What if I go to the gym and people make fun of me? What if I start going to school and end up having to drop out? What if I run in this race and everybody is faster than me? What if I get knocked out, what if I fail, what if I fall, what if they beat me? These are examples of a few of mine, believe me, the list is much longer than this. Letting fear run your life may lead to further disappointment, isolation, loneliness and disconnection. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. The saying, “those who believe they can and those who believe they can’t are usually right” is spot on.  So then the question becomes, how do we overcome fear and how do we use it to become the truest, best form of who we can be?

What does it take to begin breaking the cycle? While everyone is different, a great place to start is to make up your mind. Just decide. Make a public or private declaration. Whatever it is you want to do, your goals, your dreams, your life and your passion, commit to that action. You can figure out the details along the way because there will never be that perfect moment to act. Once you decide, you need to understand that you are going to fail at times. This doesn’t make you a failure, this gives you experience. Nobody ever achieved great feats in their life and did it without fear or failure. Don’t be afraid to fail, you can’t always win but you must engage in your life and take the good with the bad; use that to build upon yourself. When you decide to say yes to your life, you need a positive support system. This can come from anywhere, but a practical place to start is most certainly CrossFit.

CrossFit teaches many life lessons. It presents friends, knowledge, and challenges in a safe environment, in which you can become the best version of yourselves. I’ve seen countless people use the gym, myself included, to begin applying the principles of CrossFit to life. Stepping up to that bar, knowing you may fail, but if you do, that’s your current limit and now you can begin fighting to expand that capacity. Looking over at your friend during a workout but continuing on because you know if they can keep going, so can you. Putting in for that new job, knowing you may not get it this time but still having the confidence to put yourself in the arena. In those moments when you achieve the goals you set, whether inside the gym or out, they become beautiful moments in the pursuit to establish your foundation of a better, more fulfilled life.

Maybe you’ve signed up for The CrossFit Games Open, maybe you haven’t.  Maybe you want to switch your career or take that next step into the unknown. Whatever it is, decide, declare your intention and allow your friends and family to help support your goals in any way possible. Don’t let fear stand in your way. You will learn as much from your failures as you will in your successes.

Last, I would encourage everyone to build a social, emotional and physical support system. Life can be scary and less fulfilling when living it alone or in isolation. Destination CrossFit isn’t just a gym, it is a family that supports, loves and pushes one another to be the very best versions of themselves. The women here are among the strongest I’ve ever seen, always willing to build one another up, same goes for the men. We always welcome and encourage everyone to join our family. You can count on us to push you and be there through the good times and the bad, it’s what we do and we most certainly love what we do!  

I will end with this quote from Marianne Williamson - “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond all measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. It is not just in some of us it is in all of us. When we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others the permission to do the same. We are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Coach Brandon Spangler