The physical appearance of today’s competitive rhythmic gymnastics is often the subject of much debate. Poor eating habits are often blamed for the appearance of young girls who are in fact extremely disciplined and subject to some of the most unique and intensive training methods in world sport.
If a girl wants to become an elite gymnast, not only does she need to perform the perfect routine, but she needs to have the “perfect” body as well. Unlike artistic gymnastics, where the ideal body shape it short and stocky, a rhythmic gymnasts strives to stay as long and lean as possible. The training of rhythmic gymnasts promotes the building of muscle but focuses mainly on increasing flexibility and dance skill. Becoming an elite rhythmic gymnast involves many long, hard and sweaty practices. However, if the body does not have the proper nutrients than the gymnasts will either not improve or become injured.
Being athletes, almost all serious competitors are put on strict diets. While there is nothing wrong with being a diet, one must make sure that they are still providing themselves with enough protein, carbohydrates, and yes, even fats. The diet of an athlete should be about cutting out junk food, not food all together.
Because extreme stretching is such a huge part of the sport, so is the tearing down of muscles. After a long day of training these muscles then need to be repaired. It is after the gymnast has rested after a long day of training that her muscles need to rebuild themselves in order to become stronger. Eating 3 to 4 ounce of lean meat after training is ideal for lean muscle building. Fish is highly recommended because not only does it have protien, low fat and omega 3’s, but the oil in the fish also help with flexibility!
Although carbs are given a bad reputation, they are key to ensuring a gymnast performs her best at practice or a competition. Carbohydrates are great for providing the body with enough energy to last throughout the day. However, a gymnast needs to be eating the right kind of carbs. A gymnast would want to focus on eating complex carbohydrates that can be found in products like whole grain breads, pastas, and vegetables. The simple sugars found in refined grains like white bread should be avoided as these do not provide long lasting energy.
Like carbs, fat should only be consumed in moderation. Consuming a small amount of fat can be great for endurance during long practices. Gymnast or not, one should ALWAYS avoid saturated fat and try to consume mono-unsaturated fats. Fats such as these can be found in nuts, olive oil, and fish.
And over course, fruits and vegetables should always be incorporated in the meal to prove the body with essential vitamins and minerals.
While every gymnast has her myths or traditions on what she should eat the day of a competition, a good breakfast is essential to performing your best. This includes a source of protein, complex carbs, and fruit for added source of energy. Example: 2 egg white, whole wheat toast and fruit.
REMEMBER TO STAY HYDRATED! Water will not only prevent dehydration but it will help replace the electrolytes that are lost while sweating.
KGA is a strong believer in a balanced diet that will put girls in a position to maximize their potential and appropriate guidance is provided throughout training.