What Do Pro Rock Climbers Eat?Professional rock climbers need a committed nutrition plan in order to fuel their bodies appropriately. They focus on nutrient-dense foods, and specific food groups during specific times of the day, planned around their types of training sessions. The pros focus their meals on healthy carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, and water:
- Healthy carbohydrates– They choose carbs from good sources like oats, whole grains, beans, etc. for more long-lasting energy during training sessions.
- Protein– The pros focus on lots of protein to keep them feeling full during the day, such as cottage cheese, chia seeds, egg whites, nut butter, Greek yogurt, beans, and other dairy and meats etc.
- Healthy fats– from fish, avocados, nuts, and seeds
- Water– it’s not only important to stay hydrated during climbing and training, but throughout the whole day
Components of a Pre-Workout Snack for Rock Climbing:Climbers don’t need to diet, you just need to learn how to eat right and eat smarter. The positive effects of your nutrition will improve many aspects of your life, like your climbing ability and potential. The correct nutritional plan can help you climb longer, harder, stronger, and have an easier recovery. Choosing what to eat BEFORE climbing is essential because it will fuel your workout with the energy and nutrients your body needs to climb at your top potential. Similarly to how the pros eat, here are the components of a perfect pre-workout snack before indoor climbing. Below I’ll list some snack examples that incorporate all these nutrients to give you a good starting point so you can create your own perfect pre-workout plan.
Healthy Carbohydrates-Carbohydrates are your muscle’s main source of energy, so you want to have enough fuel ready to go before exercise. While lots of carbs are important, a correct balance is important, so you don’t want to over-do it on carbs. Your body can only store a small amount of carbs, so you’ll want to refill your stores throughout the day in order to have the right amount stored to perform at your top potential while climbing. Choose carbohydrates from healthier options such as whole-grains, beans, potatoes, rice, oatmeal, tortillas, and other fruits and vegetables and whole-wheat grains. Some people are more sensitive to certain foods and prone to stomach issues and abdominal distress. Fiber may cause some of these problems, so whole-wheat bread/pasta/etc. may cause bloating for some individuals. You don’t always have to eat whole wheat bread instead of white, but choose whole food sources when possible and limit overly-processed carbohydrates such as white breads, sugary foods, cereals, and desserts. Dairy products also supply carbohydrates, but some people may be more sensitive to dairy and choose not to consume it as often. Know your limits. Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, milk, and chocolate milk are some good options, if tolerated well. You’ll want around 4-5 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of bodyweight (take pounds and divide by 2.2 to convert to kg) as part of your pre-workout climbing meal (4 hours before), and 1-2 grams of carb per kilogram as part of your pre-workout snack.
Protein-Protein helps support muscle breakdown and repair, and also helps you to feel full for longer, so you aren’t training on an empty stomach. Protein contributes a small amount to energy as well. You don’t need much protein right before working out, it’s important to focus on protein afterward and during the day. Make sure you are getting enough protein regularly spaced throughout the day to support your exercise and recovery and help you from feeling fatigued. Gym climbers need about 1.2-1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. On strength and power training days, you’ll want to increase that amount to 1.2-1.7 grams per kilogram. Recommended daily protein amounts for climbers:
|Climber Weight||Endurance Training (1.2-1.4 g)||Strength/Power Training (1.2-1.7 g)|
|110 lbs/50 kg||60-70 grams||60-85 grams|
|120 lbs/55 kg||66-77 grams||66-94 grams|
|130 lbs/59 kg||71-83 grams||71-100 grams|
|140 lbs/64 kg||77-90 grams||77-109 grams|
|150 lbs/68 kg||81-95 grams||81-116 grams|
|160 lbs/73 kg||87-103 grams||87-124 grams|
|170 lbs/77 kg||93-108 grams||93-131 grams|
|180 lbs/82 kg||98-115 grams||98-139 grams|
Nutrient-Rich Whole Foods-Other nutrients are important for your overall health and for your body’s function. Vitamins and minerals are all needed in small amounts for all of your body systems to work properly. At your top health, your climbing ability will be majorly increased, and your improvement rate will be phenomenal, plus you will feel great. Focus on whole foods, whenever possible, and stay away from overly-processed packaged foods. Some packaged foods may be appropriate, such as certain brands of crackers and energy bars, but overall you want to be eating as many whole foods as possible. More whole foods = more nutrients. Get as many of your nutrients from food as possible, food is always better than supplements. Focus your snacks and meals on whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, beans, rice, oats, and other whole grains, lean meats, fish, and dairy products. You will be getting a wide variety of important nutrients to feed your body to make sure all your body processes are working at top level to keep your climbing ability at the top. Choose a balanced diet, and you’ll be getting all of the nutrients that you need.
Fluid-Hydration is crucial, especially for athletes. Water is the best way to stay hydrated before training. Low-fat dairy or dairy alternatives, tea, coffee, and a small amount of 100% juice is appropriate as well, but you need a large amount of additional water during the day. Skip soda and sugary beverages. While popular, you may want to skip the energy drinks, they are usually carbonated and full of sugar and too much caffeine. A sports drink may be helpful during a long training session at the gym to replenish carbohydrate stores, but energy drinks typically contain many ingredients you should avoid.
Best Foods to Eat Before Rock Climbing:Dietitian approved Pre-Workout Snacks for Climbing. Fuel up with a balanced meal a few hours before climbing, and follow it with a snack an hour or so before you start your workout. You’ll be ready to climb at top performance.
Now that you know the criteria for the best foods before indoor rock climbing, practice creating the perfect pre-workout snack or meal combination in those guidelines. Make sure you are combining carbohydrates and protein from nutrient-rich sources. Plus don’t forget the water! I’ve included some ideas as well. These are around 100-300 calories each with about 15 grams of protein. Indoor Rock Climbing Pre Workout Snack Ideas:
- Protein smoothie with Greek yogurt, chia or flax seeds, frozen fruit and vegetables, and your choice of milk. For a protein boost add oats, nut butter, or protein powder. Save half of the smoothie for post-workout.
- 1 scoop of protein powder in milk, water, or in a shake. Eat with a piece of fruit
- 1 LARABAR and 1 string cheese
- 1/4 cup trail mix nuts and dried fruit.
- Granola bar (look for low added sugar and high protein)
- 6 whole wheat crackers and veggies with 1/4 cup hummus (note: hummus is made from beans, which may cause intestinal discomfort for some individuals during exercise)
- A slice of toast with 1 tablespoon peanut butter and banana
- String cheese and 8 whole-grain crackers
- Apple, banana, crackers, or celery with 1-2 tablespoons peanut butter
- Rice cakes with 1 tablespoon nut butter and a banana
- Oatmeal made with nut butter or protein powder, and fruit
- Bagel with 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 1/4 cup almonds and 1 apple
- 1 cup Greek yogurt with granola and berries
- 8 oz 100% juice and a hard-boiled egg
- 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese with fruit
- PB&J sandwich
- 1.5 cups cold cereal and 1 cup milk
- 12 oz chocolate milk (but may be more beneficial for a post-workout snack)
- String cheese and an apple
- 1 cup pasta and chicken
- 1/2 cup pretzels and 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- Energy bar
- 1 cup 100% juice and 2 hard-boiled eggs
- String cheese and 4 oz applesauce
Foods To Avoid or Limit Before Rock Climbing:The perfect pre-workout snack includes carbohydrates and protein and is easy on your stomach before a workout. Pre-workout snacks should be easy to digest and not cause an upset stomach. Some foods should be limited and/or avoided before rock climbing, including:
- Added sugar – Too much sugar can give you a lot of quick energy, but you’ll feel a “crash” later on
- Too much fat – A moderate amount of fat is recommended. Fat digests slowly and too much may cause an upset stomach
- Too much fiber– Some fiber is okay and recommended. Too much fiber may cause stomach distress
- Dairy products– Some people are sensitive to dairy and should avoid it
- Overly processed foods– You won’t be getting many nutrients from packaged foods. “Junk food” leads to fatigue and spikes and drops in blood sugar
- Carbonated beverages– The air bubbles from carbonation will stay in your stomach for an unpleasant indigestion experience during climbing.
- Alcohol– Alcoholic beverages have diuretic properties and are dehydrating. Plus, exercising under the influence is a terrible idea and can lead to injury.
- Artificial sweeteners- These can affect digestion and cause an upset stomach
- Desserts– Sweets, candy, and other desserts and treats are not the type of fuel your body is looking for when you’re trying to perform at your top potential
- Spicy foods– Know your personal limit with heat. Bland, easy-to-digest foods are best before exercise so you won’t have heartburn.
- Individual tolerances– Avoid foods that cause intestinal distress based on previous experience
- Gassy foods- Beans (you may need to watch out for hummus) and cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli are some of the “gassy foods”. You don’t want to be embarrassed or feeling intestinal discomfort while you’re climbing.