You’re training like a beast—but if you feast on these foods, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. Avoid these like you would avoid a “skinny fat” reputation!
1. Pre-Workout Raw Veggies
“Avoid eating lettuce, cabbage, and broccoli before a workout,” cautions Hayim. “According to the Mayo Clinic, these foods are common sources of gastrointestinal discomfort. While they may be considered healthy and high in fiber, they can cause discomfort during a workout, especially during an intense one like CrossFit.” And besides, you don’t want to be that gassy straggler in class, now do you? So not sexy.
2. High-Sugar Carbohydrates
“Avoid high-sugar carbohydrates, even if it’s from a natural source,” cautions Smiley. “White rice, potatoes and bread are a no-no as they are ridiculously high in the glycemic index, which will spike your insulin levels then drop them down, sending you spiraling through hunger valley looking for a sweet treat.”
But don’t go cold turkey when it comes to carbs. “Whole grains are complex carbohydrates, meaning they digest slowly in your body allowing your body to absorb several nutrients. When carbohydrates are digested, they are absorbed as glycogen that will replenish depleted muscular tissue after that extreme 25-minute AMRAP CrossFit workout. The correct carbohydrate sources will provide CrossFit athletes with ongoing energy and stamina to get every repetition they deserve. Portion control carbohydrates and mostly consume whole grains, fruits, and vegetable-carbohydrate sources like quinoa, farro, sweet potatoes, beets and more,” explains Williams. Find out the 20 Worst Carb Habits of All Time while you’re at it!
3. Fried Foods
Let’s be real, you don’t need a lengthy explanation as to why these crispy, greasy globs are bad for you. So here’s a succinct one: “CrossFit is an intense workout, which requires optimal nutrition to fuel it. Fried foods are nutritionally-void and rich in unhealthy saturated and trans-fats that deplete energy levels and leave you sluggish,” offers Kotsopoulos. And lest we forget, these are foods that make you age faster, too. Yeah, we didn’t think you were interested in that, either.
4. Bouillon Cubes
A little post-workout soup? Hold on. “These may be wonderful for making flavorful soups, but are loaded with an alarming amount of salt,” warns Hayim. “During the hours your body is recovering, you need to focus on replacing your daily fluid losses. While a little bit of salt in the diet can be helpful for athletes, the salt in the bouillon can lead to dehydration that can ultimately impact your muscle contractions during a workout.” WATCH: How to Stop Belly Bloat With a Smoothie
Okay, you know you shouldn’t have frozen margaritas when CrossFit training, but even a glass or two of wine can disrupt your workout regime. “Nothing will slow you down quite like alcohol, with lasting negative effects on CrossFit training and performance,” says Williams. “Alcohol has no nutritional value, meaning it is just empty calories. Also, it has been shown to hinder recovery and disrupt sleep, two very important factors in any training program!” For motivation to move away from booze for a bit, check out The Amazing Truth About “Dry January”.
6. Processed Foods
Granola bars, pastries, and even crackers all should get a Donald Trump-status “You’re Fired!” when it comes to your CrossFit performance. “Processed foods are loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients. The sugar will increase your waistline making those pull-ups, push-ups, and handstand push-ups even more difficult,” says Williams. And, really, who needs that? “Also, these processed treats do not provide the nutrient density that whole foods deliver, leaving your body short of necessary nutrients to aid in recovery.” So just skip ‘em. Your body will thank you.
A handy on-the-go food, we know how tempting a bagel with an indulgent schmear of cream cheese can be. “Unfortunately, the high-carbohydrate, high-glycemic index of bagels leave most athletes drained rather than energized,” says Dr. Taz. Thinking you should have one pre-workout to boost your energy? “Most current nutrition research is debunking the old myth of carbo-loading before workouts,” adds Dr. Taz. To enjoy some bread without gaining weight, check out these 20 Secrets for Eating Bread Without Getting Fat!
8. Movie Theater Popcorn
Catching a Friday night movie to avoid the bars and booze before a big CrossFit day? Go ahead, you deserve it, but be sure to steer clear of the popcorn. “While movie theater popcorn looks like the least threatening of options at the concession stand, it’s loaded with salt and saturated fat from the butter. Indulging in this a night before your workout may cause bloating, and early muscle fatigue,” cautions Hayim. You might be able to stop belly bloat fast, but your workout performance will still suffer.
You’re working so hard to sculpt your abs; why ruin it with a fatty calorie bomb? “Loading up on heavy, greasy foods like hamburgers or french fries is CrossFit sabotage. The excessive amount of unhealthy fats is difficult to digest, making workouts more difficult,” shares Dr. Taz. “Healthy fats, on the other hand, provide energy and help rather than block the digestive system.” As for those killer abs, choose these 30 Best Foods for 6-Pack Abs.
10. Flavored Yogurt
It’s tempting but treacherous. “Flavored yogurt doesn’t assist in recovery or muscle building,” offers Hayim. “It has two times less protein compared to Greek yogurt, and is loaded with sodium and sugar, which make you feel bloated and tired.” If you’ve got a hankering for something on the sweeter side, try pairing unsweetened, plain Greek yogurt with sliced banana, a sprinkling of chia seeds, and a touch of honey for a balanced yet decadent treat.