I’m a Crossfit Pro and These Are the Four Practices to Follow When It Comes to Nutrition

Find out how Lena, a pro CrossFit athlete, fuels her workouts and recovery.

Pro CrossFit athlete Lena relaxing
Lena relaxing
  • Published: 8/5/2022
  • 5 min. read

Nutrition fuels our energy levels and daily activities. It’s important to eat a balanced diet to feel your best and to perform tasks to live each day. When you add exercise and training, especially at high levels, to the mix, nutrition becomes even more important. As a pro Crossfit athlete, I participate in a number of different intense workouts and events. These are my tips for eating to get the most out of your exercise.

My tips for what to eat before training

Eating is a big part of my training and performance, but what I eat depends on what workout I'm doing - if it’s a big lifting session, an endurance session or cardio. I try to stay as filled as possible, and I normally eat a big meal two hours prior if it’s a lifting session. My favorite big meal is taco salad, and I love to add sweet potatoes - something light, so it’s easy to eat.

For endurance or cardio days, I have a small snack, like a banana or a shake, 30 minutes before the workout to avoid overeating. I’m a big banana fan, especially during training and competition. I do a lot of shakes loaded with protein and carbs. I also love raisins and dried fruits. It’s high in calories and super easy. In Norway we have these different flavored raisins - blueberry flavored - they’re super good!

A lot of my food choices depend on the time before the workout or competition. We have multiple events during the day for CrossFit, and it’s only a few hours until the next one, so I may not get the time to eat a big meal, or adrenaline may make me think I’m not hungry. In that case, I’ll go for multiple snack options to get nutrients.

Eat bigger meals when you’re going to put your body through strenuous activities, and have easy snacks that deliver quick bursts of energy if you don’t have time for a big meal.

The Goldilocks meals and times

I’m fortunate to have a great coach. I remember him bringing asking, “Hey, do you want any help?” before the 2019 World Championship. We used Lifesum at the time, and he had me log my meals so he could see how much I was eating. 

Not long after, we realized that I actually wasn’t eating enough. We started to slowly add more food to my total log and diet. I had some specialty competitions when I tried to change my diet, and I remember there was a brutal competition that went for two hours. I thought, “I’m gonna eat enough for this one.” I went all in and ate way too much prior to the competition, and that didn’t go very well. I also tested out super calorie-dense gels - and it was horrible. I ended up sick, so that was not good competition. 

I had some different experiences with food, but now I found my perfect balance of eating the right amount of food in the right amount of time before competing. I’d say learning what and how much I was eating helped me find the right nutrition for me.

Overeating before training can be dangerous. Make sure you have time to digest and process your food or choose lighter snacks to give you enough energy without feeling overfull.

Focus on eating enough healthy food to avoid snacking

Once you start eating healthy and track your meals, it gets easier to stay motivated. If I want some candy during the week, I will have it, and I know the nutrient-dense food I had during the day was good for my body. I like to enjoy treats now and again.

For me, it’s easy to stay on track when you eat enough. Snacking, for me, comes from not eating enough food with nutrients in it. When you eat healthy enough, you often won’t want or need unhealthy snacks. If you fall off track, it’s just one day (or even a few) and you can pick back up where you left off. It’s important to not feel guilty.

If you focus on filling your meals with healthier options, you won’t crave large amounts of snacks. Remember that it’s okay to snack here and there.

High-performance hydration

Hydration is really a big part of my nutrition. Sometimes I like sports drinks more, but I don’t drink them much at home during my daily training. Usually, it’s water and shakes. When it’s hotter or I have longer training camps overseas, I’m cautious about staying hydrated, and sometimes sports drinks are better. Day to day, I try to keep it simple and get enough water. Keep it simple.

In one month, we have this comp in Madison, Wisconsin - it gets really hot over there, so we always work on getting enough hydration: water,  sports drinks and soda water etc. It’s important to drink enough water to perform at your best.

Dehydration is dangerous. Focus on drinking enough water every day, and if you’re training and need additional liquid, sports drinks aren’t a bad choice.

My simple tip for focusing on nutrition

Start small, especially if you want to eat more (for me that was a problem in the beginning, I wanted to do this big step). It’s hard on your stomach, and your body just feels full all the time, which is not a great feeling. Start small just as you would with weight loss. Gradually add more healthy foods to your diet. 

Macros can be hard to track, so I try not to be super strict but just so that I know the total breakdown and calories. I think, “I have enough calories now, maybe I can adjust each meal to make sure I get the right macro split.”

Using Lifesum to track - it’s an easy way to learn more about what you’re eating. A lot of us think “this is a healthy meal,” but then you’re eating it and it’s either no calories or more calories than you think. 

Track your foods and exercise to see your energy intake and usage. If you find that you need more food in your meals, add them slowly to not overeat and feel too full when you need to train.

All of the content and media on Lifesum is created and published for information purposes only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Users should always consult with a doctor or other health care professional for medical advice. If you have or think you are at risk of developing an eating disorder, do not use the Lifesum app and seek immediate medical help.