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The Top 3 Reasons A Successful 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'm dying...

These skills and routines used to be easy for me... Why am I struggling?

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

I'm not getting my period anymore, but that's normal for a gymnast, right?

Unfortunately, these are things I hear gymnasts say 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. 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, focused, 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 or the night or by the end of the week. You wake up tired (I remember waking up feeling like I had 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.

So why does a gymnast need to know about nutrition?

To Practice and Compete At Your Highest Potential


  • Having great energy from the start of practice to the end

  • Feeling like you're actually adapting to your workouts and making progress -- getting better, stronger, and faster

  • Breezing through your routines and assignments

  • Being in a better mood

  • Feeling less sore

  • Struggling with fewer injuries

When you understand how to properly fuel your body, you can be your best in the gym. A properly fueled gymnast will have the energy and strength to feel good in practice and train hard toward their goals.

To Feel Confident In Your Preparation

Fueling your body doesn't have to be a guessing game. And you don't have to figure it out on your own.

​Learning the basics of fueling your body are just as important as learning the basics in the gym. Once you understand the foundations, you can apply them to any situation (including changing schedules, travel, meet day, and even life after gymnastics!)

When you understand your own personal fueling blueprint and the "why" behind it, you can feel empowered you to make your own food choices (and not just have someone tell you what you have to eat) and be confident knowing that those choices are aligned not only with your goals in the gym, but also support your physical and mental health.

To Sort Through the Nutrition Noise and Develop A Healthy Relationship With Food and Your Body:

No matter where you look, it's like you're being constantly bombarded with people talking about food and nutrition. And, of course, everyone's got their own opinion on what and how much you should be eating. As a former gymnast, I know this is true for you too.

There is so much nutrition information out there: between Instagram and TikTok influencers, Netflix documentaries, your parents and coaches, even your teammates, everyone is always looking for that perfect answer that solves all their problems. Diet talk can feel NON-STOP!

It can all feel so conflicting. But what you really want to know is what's right for ME.

When you learn about fueling your body from a licensed nutrition professional who also understands the sport of gymnastics (and the culture that comes with it), you can guarantee that the information you are learning is backed by science and specific to the unique challenges you face as a gymnast so you can actually make adjustments and move closer to your goals.


If you are ready to know how to eat in a way that supports your goals and are interested in learning more about nutrition to fuel you body in a way that helps you feel your best and reach your goals, the Fueled Gymnast Academy is now open for enrollment for the final time in 2022!

If you think you’re missing the mark when it comes to your performance nutrition and are looking to learn more and implement high-level strategies THIS season that will help you perform better, then you need to take advantage of this opportunity.


Kerry Bair, RD, LDN, MPH

The Gymnast RD

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