A Systematic Review of CrossFit® Workouts and Dietary and Supplementation Interventions to Guide Nutritional Strategies and Future Research in CrossFit®

in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
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CrossFit® is a high-intensity functional training method consisting of daily workouts called “workouts of the day.” No nutritional recommendations exist for CrossFit® that are supported by scientific evidence regarding the energetic demands of this type of activity or dietary and supplement interventions. This systematic review performed in accordance with PRISMA guidelines aimed to identify studies that determined (a) the physiological and metabolic demands of CrossFit® and (b) the effects of nutritional strategies on CrossFit® performance to guide nutritional recommendations for optimal recovery, adaptations, and performance for CrossFit® athletes and direct future research in this emerging area. Three databases were searched for studies that investigated physiological responses to CrossFit® and dietary or supplementation interventions on CrossFit® performance. Various physiological measures revealed the intense nature of all CrossFit® workouts of the day, reflected in substantial muscle fatigue and damage. Dietary and supplementation studies provided an unclear insight into effective strategies to improve performance and enhance adaptations and recovery due to methodological shortcomings across studies. This systematic review showed that CrossFit® is a high-intensity sport with fairly homogenous anaerobic and aerobic characteristics, resulting in substantial metabolic stress, leading to metabolite accumulation (e.g., lactate and hydrogen ions) and increased markers of muscle damage and muscle fatigue. Limited interventional data exist on dietary and supplementation strategies to optimize CrossFit® performance, and most are moderate to very low quality with some critical methodological limitations, precluding solid conclusions on their efficacy. High-quality work is needed to confirm the ideal dietary and supplemental strategies for optimal performance and recovery for CrossFit® athletes and is an exciting avenue for further research.

R.A.S. de Souza and A.G. da Silva contributed equally to this work. R.A.S. de Souza and Souza are with the Nutrition Department, University of Lavras, Lavras, Brazil. R.A.S. de Souza and S.F. da Silva are with the Graduate Program in Nutrition and Health, University of Lavras, Lavras, Brazil. R.A.S. de Souza, A.G. da Silva, M.F. de Souza, Roschel, and Saunders are with the Applied Physiology and Nutrition Research Group, School of Physical Education and Sport, Rheumatology Division, Faculdade de Medicina FMUSP, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil. Saunders is also with the Institute of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Faculty of Medicine FMUSP, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.

Saunders (drbryansaunders@outlook.com) is corresponding author.

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