What to Eat Before and After Your CrossFit Workout to Improve Performance and Recovery

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The meals and snacks you eat before and after your workouts directly impact your CrossFit performance and recovery. Although calculating your personal nutrient needs is nuanced and individualized, there are general fueling guidelines that will help you get started. 

Today, we’re digging into what to eat before and after your crossfit workout to improve performance and recovery. 

What to Eat One to Two Hours Before Your Workout

Focus on protein and a combination of quick and slow-digesting carbohydrates a few hours before your workout. In terms of ratios, aim to get twice as many carbs as protein. Of these carbs, about 75% should be high on the glycemic index, like fruit, potato, rice, and cereal. The other 25% should be slower digesting—think high-fiber fruits and vegetables.

Although your macro needs are unique to your body, goals, and training frequency, a good starting place for men is to aim for 40-60g of protein in this meal. Women should aim to consume 25-35g. Calculate your own macros for free here, or grab $50 off your first month with a WAG coach using the code MCU.

What about healthy fats? 5-10g of dietary fat a few hours before your CrossFit workout is okay! As you get closer to your workout, limiting fat intake is important to ensure your body utilizes the fuel you give it in the form of protein and carbohydrates.

Pre-Workout Meal Ideas

  • Overnight oats with berries, yogurt, protein powder or collagen powder, and nut butter or peanut butter powder
  • Ground turkey, spinach, white or brown rice, low-fat cheese
  • Pulled chicken, sweet potato, green beans
  • Smoothie with yogurt, protein powder or collagen powder, strawberries, banana, avocado and greens
  • Protein waffles with spinach, egg whites, and low-fat cheese on the side.

What to Eat Thirty Minutes Before Your Workout

30-40 minutes before your workout, quick digesting carbohydrates become the name of the game. If you can also get in some protein, that is an added bonus, but prioritize your carbs if you’re in a pinch.

Again, exact gram amounts are based on your training frequency, intensity, goals, body, etc. That being said, if your goal is to maximize your performance and recovery, aim to get at least 25g of carbohydrates in this snack.

Pre-Workout Snack Ideas

  • Rice cakes or toast with peanut butter powder
  • A Fuel for Fire or similar fuel pouch
  • Protein shake and a banana 

What to Eat Immediately Post-Workout

Get in a post-workout snack ASAP to kickstart your recovery. This “meal” is especially important if you train early in the morning with no fuel in your system. If you workout mid-day or in the evening with a few meals under your belt, do your best to get something in, but don’t overly stress if it doesn’t happen within the typical “40-minute window of gains.”

Post-Workout Snack Ideas

Your post-workout snacks can look just like your pre-workout snack! Grab a banana and a protein shake, a fuel pouch, or utilize leftovers from other daily meals—a starchy carb and lean meat combo is a great option here.

What to Eat One to Two Hours After Your Workout

Think about this as you would a “regular” meal and aim to get a combination of protein, healthy fat, and both quick- and slow-digesting carbohydrates. 

Regarding ratios, aim for a 2:2:1 split between quick-digesting carbs, slow-digesting carbs, and protein, respectively. Then, add a little healthy fat source,

Post-Workout Meal Ideas

  • Chicken or beef with peppers, onions, mushrooms, rice, avocado, cheese, and fajita seasoning
  • Greens with salmon, chickpeas, sweet potato, cheese, and your high-volume veggies of choice
  • Omelet with spinach, mushroom, tomato, chicken sausage, cheese, and roasted potatoes

Improve Your CrossFit Performance with a WAG Nutrition Coach 

Although generalities are a great starting point, dialing in exactly what your body needs could be the difference between performing well and performing at your peak. Working Against Gravity has been in the CrossFit space for nearly a decade and we’ve have helped over 30,000 people improve their health and performance through nutrition. We will help you dial in meal timing and macro breakdowns based on your training schedule, preferences, goals, and body so you can find out what your body is truly capable of. Use the code MCU to grab $50 off your first month with a 1-on-1 nutrition coach.

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