Nutrition and Competition

Eating before competition

Gymnasts need to choose foods and drinks that are easy to digest before competition to avoid gastrointestinal upset from fast movements, turns and flips.

A light meal or substantial snack about 2 hours before warm-up will help to top up energy stores before competition. Foods chosen should be carbohydrate rich and low in fat and fibre to reduce the risk of gut discomfort. Some suitable pre-competition options include:

  • Fresh fruit + small tub of yoghurt
  • Breakfast cereal with milk or yoghurt
  • Toast with peanut butter or banana
  • Small serve of pasta or rice dish
  • Wrap or sandwich with light fillings

Nervous athletes, or those who struggle with a poor appetite before competition, may find that liquid-based carbohydrates such as flavoured milk or smoothies are more appealing before the event.

Eating and drinking during competition

Competition times often overlap one-to-two main meals. In these circumstances, extra food between routines is essential for sustaining energy levels and concentration. Yoghurt, light sandwiches, trail mix and fruit are all ideal snack options for between events to maintain energy levels and mental stamina. Sipping on a sports drink can also be useful if solid foods are difficult to eat as they provide carbohydrate and fluid at the same time.

Foods and fluids during competition need to be easy to eat and digest, as nerves can make it difficult to eat during competitions. High fat foods should be avoided as these are slow to digest and can cause stomach upset during dynamic movements. Gymnasts should be prepared and pack foods that they like and that sit well in the stomach. Don’t rely on what’s available at the venue.

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