For last 2 years I’ve been trying to figure out “right” amount of carbohydrates to support CrossFit performace. Short about me is at the end of the post.
I have tried everything from 0g of carbs/day for almost year to about 400g of carbs/day. I will try to sort out what worked best/worst for me.
Worst: 1) High carbs, high protein, low fat – first week was ok but after that I have noticed I had energy problems in longer workouts (I “hit” the wall few times which doesn’t happen to me at all), also I started to eating more, it was hard for me to control my cravings. On other hand I felt strong and I hit some PRs on lifts, muscles were overloaded with carbs.
2) Zone diet by CrossFit Journal – first 2 weeks I have struggled with finding correct amount of blocks that would suit to me, (I am small/medium guy but I eat more than my 10-15 kg heavier friends). Zone was great, I have learned some info about how much carbs are in different fruits/veggies but it was still diet with too much carbs through day. E.g. my body doesn’t like carbs after morning. Energy levels during workouts were great but I didn’t noticed any special improvents while being on the Zone.
3) Keto/very low carbs (<50g/day) – I have been on this kind of diet for the longest time. I was eating only veggies and had fruit only about 2-3 times per week. Being on this diet for very long time helped my body to use more fats and less carbs as energry source during long CrossFit workouts, thanks to that diet I was able to run marathon, train +60 minute interval workouts on rower and excel in long hero workouts. Only one problem of this diet was that I didn’t improved my power lifts (deadlift, squat, strict press) but I only improved technique movements, olympic lifts (snatch, clean&jerk). Also it is very hard to train CrossFit hard 5-6 times per week and gain weight while being on Keto.
Best: 4) 80/20 Paleo, No/Low carbs all day + carbs before/after training – this is how I actually eat at the moment and for now it is the best diet for me. Rules are simple eat meat/fish/eggs, a lot of veggies, some fruit, nuts, seeds and oils. Before and after training you are allowed to eat carbs, I eat like 0-50g before and 50-100g of carbs after training, mainly from potatoes/sweet potatoes, rice and fruit. 80/20 rule applies to cheat meals, I eat about 2-3 cheat meals per week. Why it suits me so much? Thanks to lower carbs I am still able to do well on long/endurance workouts but I am also able to gain strength thanks to some carbs after training and my body recovers better from hard workouts. Amount of carbs before/after training depends on how hard traning will be/was.
If you are new to CrossFit nutrition and I hope that little research helped you to decide how much carbs you should eat. Also don’t forget that everyone has different body and if something is great for me than it doesn’t mean that you would do well on same nutrition. Play with you nutrition and find out what is best for you.