As exciting as competitions season is, let's be honest... I know you're looking forward to the the end (at least a little bit)!
You've been grinding for months on end now.
So many full routines...
So many hard landings...
So few days off...
So little sleep...
Competition season was long! You likely dug yourself into a bit of a hole. You need time to catch up on things like energy, sleep, rest, and other things that fill your emotional bucket.
Before you start your preparations for next year, you need to get yourself back to 100%. Or else, you'll be at risk for injury and burn out this summer and next year. So what can you focus on to make sure you can get your body back feeling good before training ramps up again?
What you put into your body will help you catch up from the long season! Focusing on proper nutrition will help you feel your best in the gym and recover outside of the gym (especially after the stress your body is dealing with now that season is over). After all, even though meets are over, you are likely still practicing A LOT (even if practices look different over the off-season than during season).
Recovery takes a lot of energy, so fueling your body and eating enough will help you heal after season even though there's no true "break" in gymnastics training.
But what does proper nutrition for recovery look like?
1. Fuel With An Athlete's Plate
Weather you take 2 weeks off after your last meet of the season or you jump right into up-training, your body still needs adequate energy.
It may feel like you are doing "less" in the off season BUT if you are still training 3+ hours a day, 5+ days a week, your energy needs really do not change all that much after season.
As a gymnast, I remember training MORE hours in the off-season compared to competition season. Practices were still intense, with a lot of turns on the equipment, many drills and side stations, and even more conditioning! Learning new skills took focus and strength.
This seems to be the story for most gymnasts that I talk to. Many don't change your training hours in the off-season (and actually many gymnasts are even in the gym MORE during this time of year!). If you're still training 15, 20, 30+ hours per week, you still need to be eating enough food to support that.
For this phase of season, most gymnasts will still need to fuel with either a Moderate or High Intensity Athlete's Plate.
The Athlete's Plate is a more intuitive way to visualize your meals to help ensure you get enough energy and nutrients to support your training. And at this point of the season, a gymnast's plate should be approximately:
1/3 to 1/2 grains and starches
1/4 - 1/3 protein
1/4 - 1/3 fruits & veggies
contain a food with fats
2. Prioritize Foods for Recovery
Energy and protein alone cannot build the body back up after a long competition season - your body needs help! The following nutrients can help promote recovery and healing after a long competition season.
Protein: chicken, turkey, beef, pork, salmon, seafood, eggs, dairy, beans, soy, lentils
Unsaturated Fats & Omega-3: salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds, lives, olive oil, avocados, seaweed, hemp hearts, edamame
Vitamin A: spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers, mango, apricots, papaya, pumpkin
Vitamin C: oranges, kiwi, strawberry, brussels sprouts, cantaloupe
Zinc: Beef, pork, shellfish, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, whole grains, peas, legumes
Polyphenols & Anthocyanins: blueberries, blackberries, cherries, pomegranates, beets, figs, grapes, plums, acai, pineapple, papaya, banana, kiwi, ginger, turmeric/cucurmin
By incorporating these foods throughout the day and week and meeting your nutrient needs, you can actively help you body recover from a long and intense competition season.
If your goal this off season is to get better, stronger, and faster in the gym, fueling your body can help with that and working with a Registered Dietitian can help you develop the best strategy for you to recover and feel your best in (and out of) the gym! As a registered dietitian for gymnasts, I work with highly motivated athletes who are ready to fuel their body to be the happiest, healthiest, highest performance of themselves. Apply to my 1-on-1 program today!