3 Reasons Why A Gymnast Needs To Know About Nutrition

As a gymnast, have you ever said any of the following:

I'm just so tired...

I'm doing the same workouts as my teammates but they're getting better, stronger, faster, and I feel stuck...

These skills and routines that used to be easy for me now seem so hard...

I feel like I'm constantly dealing with injuries...

I'm not getting my period anymore, but that's okay right?

Unfortunately, these are all common things I hear gymnasts say they struggle with all the time. But, just because so many gymnasts are struggling does not mean this is normal or it has to be like this!

Often, the missing piece to your training puzzle is not more practice time, more strength training or cardio, more PT, or even more specialized therapies (like cryo, massage, cupping, acupuncture, etc.). That missing piece likely has to do with how you're fueling your body.

Since you're reading this, I bet you've heard that nutrition is an important puzzle piece to your success. But what does that even mean?

Food is fuel! The foods you eat provide all of the energy and building blocks for your body.

As a gymnast, your body needs a lot of energy. Of course you need energy to keep up in training and to support your recovery. But that's really just the tip of the iceberg! Your body needs energy to live, run all of your organs and body's systems, grow and develop, and do everyday activities ON TOP OF the demands of gymnastics training, recovery, and injury prevention!

When you are eating enough and getting all the nutrients that your body needs, you'll feel energized, refreshed, and strong in the gym, which will help you practice your best and reach your goals. (Please remember: "prioritize" DOES NOT mean "exclusive" or "always". Going "all-in" on proper nutrition and fueling is NOT the same as having an all-or-nothing mindset when it comes to nutrition.)

Prioritizing nutrition does not mean "going on a diet", cutting out foods like carbs or sugar, or "eating clean". A gymnast who makes fueling for performance a priority understands that food is fuel for both the body and mind. They commit to eating enough food (gymnasts you need A LOT of energy), eating a wide variety of foods from all the food groups, and eating enough often to support training. They know that a gymnast can easily find balance and eat both nutrient dense AND fun foods.

So, what happens when you aren't fueling your body properly?

As a gymnast, I know how badly you want to accomplish your goals. You want that new skill and that harder routine. You want to get to that next level, make that team, and earn that scholarship. But that's going to be really difficult to achieve without enough energy or enough building blocks. And if you're coming up short, it's likely that your body is going to start waving a big red flag 🚩🚩🚩

You're Tired All The Time:

You fall asleep in school. You feel tired, sluggish, and weak during practice. You're dead by the last rotation! You wake up tired (always wake up feeling like you've been hit by a bus). You try to prioritize 8+ hours to sleep, but you have difficulty sleeping at night (you can't fall asleep or stay asleep).

If something's missing with your nutrition (whether it's enough or enough of something) it's hard to expect your body to run at 100%. Your body is constantly trying to conserve energy, and as a result, things slow down (and some "functions" even turn off).

You Can't Stay Healthy:

Your immune system, your bone health, your ligament, tendon, and muscle health, all require building blocks from food to grow and stay strong. If you're frequently getting sick (colds, infections, viruses, etc.) or you're always injured, it's likely that you're missing the mark with your nutrition.

You're Getting Passed In The Gym:

With season right around the corner, I know you're feeling the pressure to be routine ready. But, you're struggling through your skills. You're having a hard time getting through routines and assignments. Even though you do the same assignments and the same conditioning program, your teammates are way ahead of you. If you feel like your progress has stalled in the gym (especially compared to your teammates), your fueling strategy probably needs to be adjusted.