Nutrition during training

A general healthy eating pattern helps to support the needs of a gymnast. The training diet should include carbohydrate appropriately timed for fuel, lean protein for muscle repair and recovery, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds for vitamins and minerals, as well as healthy fats. 

Gymnasts who are young may prefer small frequent meals to meet their nutrition needs, this may be particularly beneficial for those who have busy schedules of school, homework and long hours of training. 

Nutrient rich snack options to eat on the go include:
- Wholegrain crackers with cheese
- Yogurt and fruit
- Sandwich with nutritious filling
- Fruit toast or homemade fruit muffin
- Low fat plain or flavoured milk
- Dried fruit, nut and seed mix
- Hard boiled egg and vegetable sticks with hummus

An athlete’s individual requirements will be determined by training load and goals, body composition goals, health status and adjustment for growth in younger athletes. 

Low body fat levels are advantageous in gymnastics, for technique, agility and dynamic power, however, excessive dieting can lead to health and performance issues. It is important that parents, coaches and other staff aim to develop a positive body image in all athletes and seek guidance from a Sports Dietitian for support and advice. 

Fluid needs

Gymnasts need to maintain good hydration levels during training to prevent dehydration which can negatively impact performance. In most circumstances, water will be sufficient to meet hydration needs. 
Well timed use of sports drinks can be beneficial during long or hot sessions as they simultaneously provide fluid, carbohydrate for the active muscles as well as electrolytes for hydration. Excessive use of sports drinks can lead to poor dental health and should be avoided. 

Check out next issue for information on eating before and during competition!

Serena Whitby 
Accredited Practising Dietitian, Sports Dietitian
BSc(Exer&SprtsSc), BNutr, MNutr&Dietet