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The Secret to Amazing Energy All Day for Gymnasts

As a dietitian for gymnasts, I hear story after story from high-level gymnasts struggling with their energy. Waking up exhausted, even after a full night of sleep. Falling asleep during class. Fizzling out half-way through practice. Struggling to build endurance and strength.

And time and time again, when I do a deep dive into their current fueling routine, they're coming up short. They're not eating enough to support their body (keep you alive and healthy, growth, development, and recovery), everyday activities (like school, PE class, or walking your dog), and training.

The #1 thing I tell most gymnasts in my Fueling for Success program to do is EAT MORE. And one of the easiest ways to do that is to incorporate fueling snacks into your day.

It's that simple! SNACK!

And I know, snacking gets a bad reputation. I remember my college gymnastics days when so many of my teammates would try to limit their snacks because they thought they were "unnecessary". They were afraid they didn't "earn them" by working hard enough in the gym. Or that honoring their hunger would make them "fat".

Watching this first hand, they were moody, emotional, worn down, injured, and were much more likely to overeat late at night.

When built the right way, snacks give gymnasts the fuel they need to feel energized and focused. Snacks give your body the building blocks to stay healthy.

A well-fueled gymnast should eat every 2 to 3 hours. Most gymnasts need to eat 2-3 fueling snacks in addition to their 3 meals daily to give them enough energy and nutrients to support their training and recovery.

Snacks eaten 2+ hours before practice should have:

  • A slow carb food (starch, fruit, or veggie)

  • A protein food and/or a healthy fat food

For meals or snacks eaten within 1 hour before practice OR snacks taken to eat during practice, prioritize foods high in quick-carbs with just a little bit of protien or healthy fat. Foods that are too high in protein, fat, or fiber are more likely to upset a gymnast’s stomach while training.

For snacks eaten in the first hour after practice, include mostly quick-carbs with a serving of protein (3:1 ratio of carbs and protein). This will help your body start to refill its energy stores and repair your muscles.

Remember to eat a full balanced meal (protein, starch, color, fat) within 3 hours of practice ending!

By not including fueling snacks in your day, you're holding yourself back from seeing how much better you really could be getting in the gym.

Want more ideas to help you level up your snacking game? Grab your free copy of The Gymnast Snacking Guide!

Want to feel confident with your fueling plan and learn to fuel success? I help competitive gymnasts fuel their bodies, prevent injuries, and reach their highest potential. Curious about how working together could improve your performance in the gym? Let's chat! Schedule a free discovery call with me today.


Kerry Bair, RD, LDN, MPH

The Gymnast RD

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