Nutrition for the Open

Nutrition for the Open

There are hundreds of different ways to tackle this difficult question. If you are looking for simple answers, you are more than welcome to move on to some free online eating template for CrossFitters to follow.

Now, a bit of a disclaimer. This is not a prescription per se, but more of a recommendation. Prescriptions can only be given by doctors and are individualized. However, we can provide you with some knowledge in how to properly adjust your nutrition to compensate for the rigors of the open.

There are many factors to consider about the question:

“What do I eat during the  CrossFit OPEN?”

Main Factors of CrossFit Open Nutrition:

  1. You
  2. The OPEN



Digestion is very important when talking about Nutrition for performance especially for the CrossFit Open

Ask yourself a few questions about your food hygiene practices first;

  • Do you sit down to eat?
  • Are most of your meals in the week solid food meals?
  • What percentage of your foods are packaged?
  • How often do you chew per bite of each meal you have?
  • What foods make you feel light and vibrant and mentally acute?
  • What foods weigh you down and make you want to have a nap?

The purpose of these questions is to highlight the importance of proper absorption. Food assimilation is first and foremost one of the variables that you control.

In addition, a good mental state in relationship to food and eating is key. That is, are you anxious about your food choices? Are you stressed at most times when you eat? Significant stress during a meal can compromise the breakdown of vital nutrients. This is something that should be considered year round, not just during the Open.

One factor athletes forget is that the OPEN is a stressor. Positive or Negative, it’s simply stress. Your adaptation and ability to overcome that stress is what the OPEN season is all about for 40 + days.

If you practice methods to lower anxiety(daily purpose rituals and consistency), good food hygiene (chewing) and develop an awareness of the types of foods you fuel yourself with, you will be able to support yourself before, through and after the Open Successfully.


  1. chew 20 times per bite
  2. sit down to eat
  3. do not drink any liquids with meals
  4. breath and relax consciously when you eat
  5. prepare, smell, eat and enjoy most of your meals

These may seem simple concepts. However, it’s often the simple fix that yields measurable health improvements. Funny how that works.


How you train will determine the type of Nutrition needed for the CrossFit Open

Have you put the time into practice of the events to come – the physical requirements?

Can you perform 20 unbroken CTB pull ups?

Can you Clean your BWT one time?

Can you perform 5 strict unbroken HSPU?

Can you perform 5 unbroken ring MU kipping?

Anyone can participate in the open. However, these benchmarks are what we define as “barriers to entry” for competing in the open. These answers also provide a framework for crafting a proper nutritional plan.

The Open pits individuals against one another in a mixture of movements lasting on average 10-12 minutes. This requires sustainable power of contractions – whereby the contractions are sustainable for the individual the entire duration of that task. Therefore, the contractions need to be more aerobic than unsustainable Anaerobic.

As we have always stated, the CrossFit athlete has to make dynamic contractions aerobic to win.

How does this play a role in nutrition for the OPEN? Your fueling requirements are based on your current ability. 5% of the participants that will make most of the OPEN workout aerobic in nature – with a high power sustained in the entire time domain, no matter what the source of power required. These athletes will have less demand on organizing sugar as a primary fuel source. The sugar is only there to support quick increases and decreases in power and balance to the cortisol effects of the OPEN workouts.

50% of those people participating will make it REALLY lactic, for various reasons, whether they want to or not.These individuals will require a fine balance and management of restoring sugar levels in body and starving off high releases of cortisol for 40 days.

The 45% of total people participating will make these OPEN events muscle endurance based (more alactic/aerobic in nature). The fuel requirements when the dose response is in this manner is less on sugar management at stored and muscle and lymph level, but more on their energy balance and keeping their CNS fresh and ready for more contractions.


  1. If you are elitekeep doing what you are doing – remain hydrated well and balance things for 5 weeks…
  2. If you will go lacticpay keen attention to sugars in diet to help recover from and balance energy for the 5 week duration…
  3. If you are a novicekeep sugars at bay, and just use being fresh as your litmus…


Lifestyle also effects Nutrition

How many hours of solid sleep you get will dictate your performance in the OPEN. Also,the time you dedicate to strategy, practice, execution, more practice are all positive performance indicators (PPIs) of the OPEN.

Your consistency in training and sport specific preparation of individualized training leading up to the OPEN will have a direct effect on your OPEN performance.

There are many “ways” that athletes adapt and survive. The OPEN is a time when consistency must meet intensity at a perfect balance. Chaotic life DOES NOT LIVE around a chaotic competition.In a most cases it drains and disables the athlete physically.

Now you might be asking, what does this have to do with nutrition for the OPEN? If you do not have the solid base of support to DO and RECOVER FROM the OPEN, how do you expect to continue a performance week in and week out?

Ask yourself about how well you are managing all the resources required towards this OPEN goal, and more so HOW the recipe is being written. That is, have you written down on paper the program, the training plan through the open, the food plan through the open, etc..?

If not you might be left behind or surprised when it comes time to balancing recovery and optimal performance for the OPEN.


  1. Write and plan out the entire schedule of training, food and lifestyle adjustments for the 5 weeks NOW..
  2. Place reminders through notes or even people to keep you on track of honouring sleep, water, recovery and good food choices…
  3. Sleep in a darkened room like a cave under cooler than normal temperatures per night for a minimum of 8 hours …


There will be 250,000 different dose responses for 17.1 this year, that is if 250,000 people do it.

Every person will get a different effect than another of the same workout. This is because we all handle stressors differently.So in an attempt to figure out what fuels this and how to recover from this in a nutritional standpoint, the first place we need to go is the ACTUAL requirements in the task.

The OPEN is the task.

That task is on average one hard workout every Monday and Friday of average 12-15 minutes long, that contains all aspects of fatigue. Mainly in the CP, lactic and aerobic sense. It’s a wonderful dance of the balance of all of these in this 12-15 min piece. All systems helping one another move forward.

The entire time prior to and during the OPEN, the athlete must be thinking about HOW TO optimize this balance of these 2 hard workouts. We HAVE TO assume that each of the workouts will be an average time and a certain KIND of work in order to create a generalized idea of what to eat around it.But it is THIS dose response that helps with fuel choices prior, during possibly and more so after.


  1. All energy systems are used in the OPEN at varying amounts per person…
  2. Most workouts will last on average 12-15 min – this will help determine fuels needed before, during and after…

Nutrition TIMING

Nutrition Timing

Based on the sun and the moon and our overall temperament, we will have varying levels of “energy” for the OPEN workouts per day. You must consider when you have been training all year and at what time you feel the most energy during the day. Often these two “times” correlate. This should be used as a reference point for when you should workout. A mistake we observe consistently is when individuals change up their Open workout time to a time which does not match when they usually workout.

When you wake up in the morning, your body goes through multiple sessions of trying to figure out how you are getting through the day. It sees the sunshine and the indicates one thing, it smells food and this indicates another – this is done to adapt and create efficiency for us to survive and reproduce.The downside of that is that we can get lazy and make things easy – i.e. cars, smart phones, etc…

The upside of this is that we can use this “rhythm” of sorts to help us prepare our minds, our gut and our muscles/lungs/heart for the Open workouts – by practicing at the same time. When your brain and mind and body get a rhythm set up, it will in most cases work best doing the OPEN at the same time you have been practicing those style training sessions.

Every time you do that session on Friday afternoon at 4 pm all year, your body is setting you up to make that session more and more efficient EVERY week. Every Thursday night all year you go to bed and your body is setting up the mind, nervous system and FUELS needed for that 4 pm survival session.

This is why we preach consistency from training into competing. Rhythm is king.


  1. Perform the OPEN workouts around the same time you have been training all year on those days…


First take account of your ability, your timing, your digestion, etc…

  • If you have practiced AM fasted training all year, do not change a thing. Warm up well and get after it. Provide yourself with the same nutrition you have been doing; if you have practiced this then there are not a lot of changes you can provide, just ensure fueling for the 2 days prior and hydration is similar to what you have been doing in training; if you have been inconsistent with these times of training and fueling prior – figure that stuff out ASAP – and get back in a rhythm; ensuring adequate sodium in meals and practicing good food hygiene days before will help.
  • Because the OPEN is a competitive phase, in a lot of cases the functional volume is less for a lot of people, but intensity is really high – training and emotional intensity – in this case, throughout the open, sugar binges are out, so are anything that inflames you. Processed and packaged and can cause changes in neural behaviour – things like additives, sweeteners, high inflammatory food sources: soy, oats, eggs, casein are a main few we see in testing.
  • Because the “event” is everything, it would be prudent to have a slightly fasted state – We are never truly really fasted but to ensure you are not focusing on digestion at a time when your body needs to send blood to the periphery is key! This might mean practicing in your lead up sessions on seeing how far away you can push the fuel before hand that leaves you mental acute but light and powerful at the same time.
  • If you have been eating regularly and are doing well in lead up sessions, then do not change a thing; this is very well a KEY strategy – NOT doing anything different. Many choose to see this part of the competition like a fight, except for that fact that the dose response is not that much different than what you have been training at – (I’d) hope anyhow. Therefore, keep stuff simple and just do constant checks on your vitality, recovery, willingness and confidence – This will tell you if you have to rest and replenish more or nourish and charge more.
  • After each workout continue to do what you have done all season around training in that post Open workout setting; ensure that you take a lot of time to cool down, like 20 minutes minimal to walk lightly, FlyWheelBike easy, swim easy, or use multiple modalities for 20 min at an easy pace (ski erg, jump rope, planks and holds); this will remove build up of waste faster from what you have used, and broken down – as well as promote a mental state of getting back and recovered before the next bout of testing; ONCE and only ONCE you have calmed down, then this is a time to have your post OPEN nutrition. Again – I would imply the same things you have been doing all year – if you have done nothing you can abide by these principles: if you are lean, go lactic hard, recover well – then a liquid mixed composition sugar source of 40-80 g will help here with some whey isolate: if you are overfat, experiencing this, out of shape – then water will do, then sit down and chew a real meal in a short time after: if you are lean, a hard charger but not that good, stressed, and don’t go lactic each time – consuming some amino acids only 20 min after will help – then eat a regular meal with adequate lean protein, nutritious fats and starchy carbs 30 min after this: if you are overfat, experienced, in your best shape and do the OPEN often – consume water only afterwards, and when your digestion calms down – chew some real food, same macro RX as above.
  • Before each OPEN workout, again, as above, continue to do what you have done all season. Some things to consider though based on dose response; if you are “going for it” each time – remember that it is a willful survival moment – this means that in order for you to execute this perfectly you need PERFECT TIMING of mental acuity, fuel usage, muscle endurance and sustained power – this can only come with practice BUT it can be diminished with “new” things prior to the OPEN; set aside a schedule and timer and ensure that you are conscious about your fueling prior to the workouts. Also go back and review what your fuel sources were and the TIMING of these sources prior to PR’s in conditioning style workouts – try to remember a time when your fitness was at its best – feeling fresh, light ad confident, think hard, there was a time for this – then repeat it. A generalized prescription is a light meal of low fat, moderate carbohydrates and low protein – of which is easily digested and does not hamper mental acuity hours before is wise – this allows the brain when under fatigue to choose the right fuel sources – again this must have been practiced before hand but it might help.
  • If you are thinking about fueling during the Open workout you may not have done the Open before. You won’t need to fuel during the workout.
  • Around the Open tests, focus on lifestyle consistency, not changing much, maybe eating lighter and leaner and cleaner. Ensure that you are doing checks and balances on your energy, rhythm and confidence. This will give an idea how to balance it all to succeed as much as you can throughout the season.

Good Luck!



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