Nutrition for Gymnasts

A farmer's market with a vast selection of fruit and vegetables. Both these are an important part of nutrition for gymnasts.

Nutrition and Training

Nutrition is important for gymnasts of all ages. For gymnasts to have enough energy to get through training and allow their bodies to repair following training they need to provide their body with adequate nutrition. The Australia Dietary Guidelines are available to all Australians. These guidelines are great to follow to ensure your child is getting adequate nutrition and will help their bodies function optimally.  

The Benefits of Eating Well

Good nutrition provides many benefits for gymnasts, for example:

  • Body repair and recovery after training 
  • Growth 
  • Increasing energy levels for both gymnastics and school 
  • Maintaining and increasing their strength 
  • Enjoying nutritious food 
  • Learning good eating habits for years to come! 

What Should Gymnasts Eat?

The most important thing to remember when it comes to nutrition for gymnasts is to eat a wide variety of nutritious foods. The Australia Dietary Guidelines (2016) encourage eating a wide variety of food, such as: 

  • Plenty of vegetables, including different types and colours, and legumes/beans  
  • Fruit  
  • Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties, such as bread, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley
  • Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, legumes and beans  
  • Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives, mostly reduced fat (reduced-fat milk is not suitable for children under the age of 2 years) And drink plenty of water. 
  • Limit intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt, added sugars 

If you’d like to know more, you can read more about these guidelines on the Eat For Health website, maintained by the Australian Government.

Lemons, limes and oranges are fantastic nutritious foods for gymnasts!

Nutrition for Gymnasts at Training

Gymnasts in classes that run for three hours or longer must bring food to training, to help them maintain energy levels. And, we strongly suggest that gymnasts have a snack before training and have food ready to eat after training. Gymnasts will have the opportunity to eat regularly throughout the training session so don’t worry about them getting hungry! 

Breakfast

A great breakfast should be made up of foods that are:

  • High in protein
  • High in carbos
  • Fats including Omega 3s

Recess or mid-morning

For a good mid-morning snack, try to eat:

  • Fruit 
  • Vegetables
  • Protein

Lunch

For a good mid-morning snack, try to eat:

  • Sandwich with meat and cheese
  • Vegetables
  • Complex carbs like peans, beans and whole grains

Pre-training

This is the second most important meal for a gymnast. Try to make it heavier on carbohydrates, but it should also include protein and fats.

Examples of good pre-training food include: 

  • Apple slices with peanut butter 
  • Half a ham and cheese sandwich
  • Half a peanut butter sandwich
  • Pita chips and hummus 
  • Crackers and tuna
  • Muffin with cheese
  • Fruit/yogurt drink

During Training

A mid-training snack should be very light and easy to digest. Fruit is the best option! With fruits like apple, ideally it should be cut up to make it quick and easy to eat. Some examples of good food to eat during training: 

  • Apple
  • Banana
  • Blueberries 
  • Strawberries
  • Pineapple
  • Grapes
  • Dried fruit
  • Mango
  • Coconut

After Training

We encourage your gymnast to eat as soon as possible after training. However, eating nutritious food within the 48 hours after training helps gymnast’s bodies recover. Ideally, it would include carbohydrates, protein, and good fats. Chicken and fish are great proteins, and vegetables contain vitamins and minerals that are needed to increase recovery.

Some great dinner ideas:

  • Fish (especially salmon or tuna) or chicken are great
  • Potassium-rich and potassium-rich foods – broccoli and other green vegetables, cauliflower, beans, avocado
  • Fruit like blueberries or banana for dessert

Read More

The following resources were referenced to provide the information on this page: