CrossFit is pretty challenging on the daily. Even something like a 10-minute metcon can be a serious task on the body. A fortified mental will is absolutely necessary to perform WOD’s at an optimal rate, but so is a solid foundational meal plan. Quite a common diet plan that follows CrossFit is the Paleo diet, and this is pretty effective, but perhaps you should re-evaluate your carb strategy.

Where are the gains?

They’re back on the table where you left them, along with your carbs. Carbs are the preferred energy source for your body so it will use any glycogen it can find, whether it is stored or flowing freely in your blood, to give you any power. Once those reserves start to deplete, your body activates energy conservation mode where it will not burn as much fuel because it knows it is running out. This leads to increased fatigue, and a decrease in power, strength, and focus.

While there is evidence to suggest that performance can be enhanced by a higher-fat low-carb diet, remember that fat is only a good fuel for endurance. CrossFit is anything but endurance. It is all about fast-paced, high-intensity movements, so the body will definitely not be tapping into fat for energy. Since CrossFit is so explosive, the next best energy source to carbs is muscle tissue, as it is much easier to break muscle tissue down for energy than it is to break fat down. Kind of defeats the purpose, don’t you think?

Sync your training with your carbs

As has been said before, the body will use carbs long before anything else. Including carbs in your diet will stop the body turning to muscle tissue, or amino acids more specifically, to fuel itself. This is especially true for when your workouts are an hour or over. Assign a level to your workout so that you can figure out exactly how many carbs you should be eating because too many carbs will pack on unnecessary fat. Refer to the below guidelines for “light”, “moderate”, and “hard” workouts;

Light: 30-60 minutes Strength/skill WOD plus one metcon
Moderate: 60-90 minutes WOD plus extra metcon or accessory work
Hard: 90+ minutes 2-3 skill/movement WODs plus 1-2 metcons

So, how many carbs then?

Each level will have a varying amount of carbs that you will need to eat per day. Counting macros is more of a bodybuilding concept but to be the pinnacle of this sport, you need to show this similar level of concentration. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to know exactly what you are putting in your body, top athletes around the world certainly do, so why not you? It is a very useful tool to make sure that you are putting the optimal level of nutrients into your body.

Below is a breakdown of the amount of carbs you should be eating per day in relation to workout level. This is the amount of actual carbohydrates you need to consume, not just the amount of carb rich foods.

For example, 100g of rice has roughly 25-30g of carbohydrates. If you need to consume 200g of carbs, for example, this equals roughly 600g of rice. This is just an example, so do some research on nutrient values for the specific carb source you prefer. The formula is in pounds and not kg’s, but to get your bodyweight in pounds, simply take your weight in kg’s and multiply it by 2.2.

Non-training day: 0.5g of carbs per pound of bodyweight
Light workout: 1g of carbs per pound of bodyweight
Moderate workout: 1.5g of carbs per pound of bodyweight
Hard workout: 2g of carbs per pound of bodyweight

What kinds of carbs?

That’s up to you. When you eat them is also your choice entirely. However, to really optimise your carbs, eat the majority of them around your workout. This not only includes before and after but also during. Intra-workout carb replenishment is an excellent option because it allows you to refuel as you train so there is not fatiguing in the middle of your WOD or metcon. In fact, intra-workout carbs give the body a big boost of energy, especially in workouts lasting over an hour, so you can push harder, for longer.


One of the most effective carbohydrate powders is the Vitargo from TNT Mercury as it offers extremely rapid gastric emptying that won’t bloat you, and will reach the muscle faster. After this, the Waxy-Maize from Amplify is the next best option. Couple this with some BCAA’s and you have the ultimate intra-workout replenishment to keep you going harder without damaging any muscle tissue.
CrossFit is quite a demanding effort on the body, so it is only right to eat properly and fuel the body right. If you’re still hesitant, try incorporating a few carbs first and notice the difference. Once you have, you won’t look back.

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