Hi Dan, I regularly go to a CrossFit class at 5:45am and find eating before can make my stomach feel heavy. What is the latest I should carb up before bedtime?
There are essentially two questions here: when should you eat before you go to sleep to help with your CrossFit workout the next day, and what should you eat after you wake up to avoid that “heavy stomach feeling”.
Let’s tackle the former first. If you look online you might see some people saying that eating too late results in all sorts of health problems, but that’s not really true. Eating late at night is unlikely to be a problem for your health, but food can sit on the stomach.
This is because digestion is aided by gravity and so when you’re horizontal you no longer have that and sleep can be affected, particularly if you sleep on your front or back. If you find that food is sitting on your stomach try to eat at least 2 hours before you go to bed. Remember this isn’t just when you’re sleeping, but whenever you’re lying down.
Onto the second question. When it comes to eating carbs late at night to aid performance the next day, I wouldn’t say it’s that important for a CrossFit class unless it’s a few hours long.
Judge it based on how you feel and your performance (if you measure it). Often people try to follow the advice given to top athletes - the 1% of the 1% - and the problem with that is it can create so many unnecessary restrictions and stresses. Carb loading for endurance events is done days ahead, not just the night before.
What I’m trying to say is if you feel something is working for you and your lifestyle, it probably is.
It’s a similar story for eating in the morning. If you have no issues with not eating first thing in the morning, then don’t – just eat after your workout. If you do need something then go on the lighter side to avoid a heavy stomach.
Something like a banana and peanut butter, or half a Huel meal, may help settle your stomach and give you some energy if you feel like you need it.
For fueling after your workout go for a mix of protein and carbs to give your body energy and the tools it needs for recovery. If you’re looking to go deeper into this topic you may find this article on what to eat before and after your workout helpful, but the important thing is to find what works for you.
You’re halfway there to answering this question. Have a play around and find what works for you based on how you feel and your performance at CrossFit.
Dan Clarke, RNutr
Junior Sustainable Nutrition Manager
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