Staying Fueled During Gymnastics Practice

By: Hannah Segur

Staying Fueled During Gymnastics Practice (Photo Source: iStock)

Staying Fueled During Gymnastics Practice (Photo Source: iStock)

When it comes to staying fueled and energized during a long gymnastic practice or meet, knowing what kind of snacks and drinks to bring along can keep you fueled. Here are some tips and tricks on what foods and beverages are best to keep energy levels up.

Gymnastics is a unique sport because the athlete is required to exert their energy in intervals followed by rest and recovery periods. This means keeping energy levels high must be done quickly and efficiently. Additionally it means that quick digesting carbohydrates are a must to deliver energy that the body needs to maintain optimal performance.

Pack along berries in a to go container! (Image Source: iStock)

Pack along berries in a to go container! (Image Source: iStock)

Fruits are perfect for a gymnast to consume while practicing. The natural sugar in fruit boosts energy levels. It is excellent to have fruits like strawberries or blueberries because they are individual and easy to eat while on a quick break. Bananas are great too because they are portable and typically easy on the stomach, plus they deliver potassium, a key mineral in muscle contraction.

Pretzels are another great snack; they are a source of carbohydrates, while being easy to digest and easy to eat in a pinch.

For longer practices (example: lasting 1.5 hours or more) add-in a source of protein and fats to help keep energy levels up, like these ideas:

Pretzels and/or nuts are a great snack to bring along! (Image Source: iStock)

Pretzels and/or nuts are a great snack to bring along! (Image Source: iStock)

Nuts are a good savory snack and a great source of protein to sustain energy and concentration levels.

Cheese or nut butters are great to pair with any of the above quick digesting snacks. Cheese and certain nut butters are a natural source of protein.

For example peanut butter has 8 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons (about the size of a golf ball).

Staying Hydrated
The best form of hydration would be water for this specific sports practice. Because the sport isn't nonstop, you do not need the extra sugar and electrolytes that are in sports drinks during a practice. If however, they were in an all-day competition or practice lasting longer than 1.5 hours, then it would be recommended to add-in some sports drink in addition to water. Sports drinks will deliver electrolytes and some sugar to optimize hydration levels and keep the body energized, product examples: Gatorade, Body Armour, or Klean Athlete Hydration (Use our link and save 15% on Klean Athlete products).

Lastly – remember always try new foods and drinks on practice days first before you try them on competition days to ensure they sit well within your stomach.

For more hydration tips, see the Hydration 101 handout in the handout shop!

Content reviewed by sports dietitian: Molly Morgan, RD, CDN, CSSD

Products Worth a Try for Athletes

When it comes to fueling athletes there are products on the shelf that are definitely worth a try to give your body a boost of the energy it needs to fuel and refuel the body. Here are a couple of product picks from our founder and sports dietitian, Molly Morgan for athletes to consider adding to their routines!

Kind Bars - perfect for on the go fruit boost

Kind Bars - perfect for on the go fruit boost

PRESSED BY KIND BARS

These Pressed By KIND bars are a perfect way to boost fruit intake for busy days. Each bar has 2 servings of fruit and there is no added sugar. Pictured here is our founder’s favorite variety - Mango Apple Chia!

What we love is that each of these bars has only about 100 - 110 calories and delivers 3 - 4 grams of fiber; the fiber component is key for athletes to help balance blood sugar levels and provide longer lasting energy. Click here to check out the line-up of Pressed by KIND bars. Note - these are also available for purchase at stores like Target and Wegmans.

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EPIC BARS

Epic bars are a protein-packed snack and great for on the go days. Each bar delivers 7 - 13 grams of protein. Plus they don’t need refrigeration and are perfect to throw in your workout bag or back pack. Visit Epic.com to check out all of the different flavors available! Note - these are also available for purchase at stores like Target and Wegmans.

BEETS

If you are short on time to roast up a batch of beets, instead grab a package of Love Beets. They come in delicious flavors or plain and make a great side dish at meals or event a salad topper. Beets deliver important compounds to boost performance.

For more on the latest in beet and performance research, check out our recent Spotlight on Beets blog post.

Yum! Chickpeas - a perfect on the go snack

Yum! Chickpeas - a perfect on the go snack

CHICKPEAS

Take chickpeas with you! Buy bags of roasted chickpeas for a perfect snack that delivers fiber and protein for longer lasting energy. Plus they deliver important nutrients including: iron, phosphate, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and vitamin K. In fact, one serving on roasted chickpeas has 8% of the Daily Value for iron.

Check out these fun ideas to add-in chickpeas from our recent blog post - click here.

KLEAN ATHLETE VITAMIN D

When you can’t routinely be out in the sunlight, adding in vitamin D is important for many reasons: first is that there are very few foods that naturally deliver vitamin D and that vitamin D plays key roles in the body, especially for athletes. Vitamin D can keep your immune system strong and has links to musculoskeletal strength, and physical performance.

To add in vitamin D, we recommend checking with your health care provider first before adding any supplements to your routine. For athletes completing at elite levels or pro levels, always choose a 3rd party certified supplement (like NSF) to ensure that the product is free of banned substances. Fuel2Win is an affiliate with Klean Athlete and you can get a 15% discount. Click here to purchase from Klean Athlete.

Q & A with Carrie Miller, Personal Running Coach

Personal Running Coach, Carrie Miller 

Personal Running Coach, Carrie Miller 

Hive Athlete and Personal Running Coach Carrie Miller shares some of her sports nutrition tips. She is a veteran of over 30 full marathons (includes 7 Boston marathons), 15 half marathons, ten 24-hour+ 200-mile team relays, and multiple 5k and 10k races.

Q:  Honey Stinger has a variety of products, what time (e.g. before, during, after) do you suggest athletes use the different products?

A: I suggest that athletes eat a Honey Stinger waffle about 30 minutes to 2 hours prior to a race or workout.  I also suggest taking a gel or a few chews right before the race or workout starts for added energy right at the beginning.  During the race/workout, chews and gels are ideal.  I love how small the chews are, making them easy to chew and manageable to take frequently.  If a workout/race happens to be long and slow, waffles could also be a good option.  For example, my husband just paced a 6:00 marathon, so taking waffles at this slower pace was great.  After the event/workout I suggest consuming a Honey Stinger Protein Bar or the new Cracker N’ Nut Butter Snack Bar!

Q: What is unique about Honey Stinger products compared to other products on the market?

A: I love Honey Stinger products compared to the competition because they use a real and natural sweeter - honey.  Products with refined sugar can cause sugar spikes and crashes, but the natural honey helps sustain energy at a high level for a longer period of time.  Additionally, there are gluten free and organic options in so many amazing flavors that taste so great that you look forward to taking them. And, they don't upset your stomach!  

Q: If someone has an evening workout, practice, or game, which Honey Stinger product(s) would be ideal to have before?

A: For evening workouts and competitions, there are caffeinated options of gels and chews to keep you firing on all levels!  Some examples include the Chocolate and the Strawberry Kiwi Energy Gels, as well as the Lime-Ade and the Cherry Cola Energy Chews.

 

Q: What is your favorite Honey Stinger product? And why?

A: This is a tough one because I use and love almost all of the products, and I'm not kidding! However, I'd have to go with the chews because I think they've made the biggest impact in my race performance.  For example, in a marathon or 50 mile race I take a few chews prior to the start and then about 1 chew per mile during the event.  Before I started using Honey Stinger, I would get nauseous after using the various gels on the market. I usually had to resort to not taking much of anything during the 2nd half of a race because I couldn't stomach anything else.  Using Honey Stinger Energy Chews during races has been a breakthrough in nutrition that led to better performance for me. After I used the Energy Chews to fuel my first 50 mile ultramarathon I was hooked, and there was no turning back.

Q: Fueling the body is important for an athletes  success. What is one tip you can share with athletes to fuel their best? 

A: Just because you are active does NOT mean that you can eat whatever you want.  Your body needs high-quality real, clean food to keep firing on all cylinders! Also, it's important to fuel your body within 30 minutes of working out.  Waffles, Protein Bars, and the new Cracker Bars are great for this!

Breakfast Solution: Overnight Oats

Breakfast is such an important meal and opportunity to fuel the body. As the name suggests, this is the meal that literally breaks the fast. While there isn't one perfect breakfast option, there are definitely nutrients to look to include like whole grains, fruit, healthy fats, and protein. This mix of nutrients will help to fuel and refuel the body.

Overnight oats are such a great option because you make them ahead of time and then let the oats sit overnight. You can then warm them up before you eat them or just enjoy them right out of the refrigerator. Oats not only deliver fiber to help fill you up, they also deliver protein, one cup of oats has about 10 grams of protein. In comparison - one large egg has about 6 grams of protein. 

The oats then serve as a perfect foundation for nutrient-rich toppings and additions like fruit, nuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and more! There are almost endless options for overnight oats so experiment and find the mixture that is best for you - even try savory options with toppings like avocado, egg, and chopped scallions. Below are three overnight oats recipes for you to try!

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Chia Berry Overnight Oats

Serves 1

Ingredients:
1 cup (240 mL) old fashioned oats
1/2 cup (120 mL) almond milk
1 Tablespoon (15 mL) chia seeds
1/3 cup (80 mL) frozen blueberries
1/3 cup (80 mL) frozen strawberries
1/3 cup (80 mL) frozen raspberries

Directions:
1. Mix the oats, almond milk, and chia seeds together in a small mixing bowl.
2. In a pint-size jar, start with 1/3 of the oatmeal mixture. Then layer frozen raspberries. Top with 1/3 of the oatmeal mixture. Then layer with frozen blueberries. Top with 1/3 of the oatmeal mixture. Finish with a layer of frozen strawberries.
3. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Optional: To serve finish with 1 - 2 teaspoons maple syrup or agave nectar.

Topping suggestion: Top with fresh bananas, fresh raspberries, and/or coconut chips.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 400 calories, 9 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 80 milligrams sodium, 73 grams carbohydrates, 15 grams fiber, 13 grams sugar, 12 grams protein 

Golden Overnight Oats

Serves 1

Ingredients:
1 cup (240 mL) coconut, almond milk, or whole milk
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) tumeric
1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) vanilla
2 teaspoons (10 mL) agave nectar
1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) cinnamon
1 cup (240 mL) old fashioned oats

Directions:
1. Combine the spices and agave nectar to the milk, whisk together. Then add the spice-milk mixture to the oats. Shake or stir to combine.
2. Transfer to a pint size jar or container, cover and refrigerate overnight. 

Serving suggestions: Top with raisins, sliced pear, coconut flakes, and/or hemp seeds.

Nutrition Facts (per serving):  470 calories, 9 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 160 milligrams sodium, 80 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams fiber, 16 grams sugar, 15 grams protein

Maple Cinnamon Overnight Oats

Serves 1

Ingredients:
1 cup (240 mL) coconut, almond milk, or whole milk
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) cinnamon
2 teaspoons (10 mL) maple syrup
1 cup (240 mL) old fashioned oats

Directions:
1. Combine the cinnamon, maple syrup, and the milk, whisk together. Then add the spice-milk mixture to the oats. Shake or stir to combine.
2. Transfer to a pint size jar or container, cover and refrigerate overnight. 

Serving suggestions: Top with chopped apple slices, walnuts, chocolate chips, sliced banana, and/or pecans.

Nutrition Facts (per serving):  380 calories, 8 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 160 milligrams sodium, 70 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams fiber, 15 grams sugar, 11 grams protein

MILLET CHERRY BARS

This Millet Cherry Bar recipe is from a great new book, Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sports and Adventure by Matthew Kadey, RD. It is filled with delicious recipes for athletes to fuel their bodies before, during, and after workouts and games. 

Republished with permission of VeloPress from Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sports andAdventure by Matt Kadey, RD. See more recipes at www.rocketfuelfoods.net.

Photo Credit: Aaron Colussi

Photo Credit: Aaron Colussi

MILLET CHERRY BARS

Here’s more proof that you don’t need to dish out your hard-earned cash for energy bars designed in factories when making your own inspiring version is easy, even for the culinary challenged. Not just for the birds, millet is an inexpensive gluten-free grain that gives these bars great texture and nutritional firepower.

Dairy-free, freezer-friendly, gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian
SERVINGS: 9
ACTIVE TIME: 20 min.

The flat side of a measuring cup is a perfect tool for pressing the bar mixture into a flat, even layer in the pan. Also, placing the uncut bars in the refrigerator for a couple of hours can make slicing them easier.

1 cup roughly chopped pecans
½ cup raw millet
¼ cup raw shelled sunflower seeds
¼ cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 cup dried cherries
2 tablespoons honey
Zest of 1 medium orange
½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread pecans, millet, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds on a rimmed baking sheet. Place in oven and heat, stirring a couple times, until golden and fragrant, 10 to 12 minutes. Line an 8 × 8–inch square baking pan with a piece of parchment paper large enough so there is a 1-inch overhang.

Reduce oven temperature to 200°F. Blend cherries, honey, orange zest, salt, and 2 tablespoons water in a food processor into a paste. Transfer to a bowl and stir in toasted pecan mixture. Press firmly into prepared pan in an even layer and bake until just slightly sticky to the touch, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan before using the parchment overhang to lift from pan. Cut into 9 bars. These can be kept chilled for 2 weeks or frozen for up to 2 months if wrapped tightly.

GAME CHANGERS: Replace pecans with almonds + Try raw quinoa as a replacement for millet + Swap out cherries for cranberries + Use brown rice syrup or agave syrup instead of honey + Add lemon zest instead of orange zest

Image Courtesy VeloPress

Image Courtesy VeloPress

Garlic Quinoa Poppers

These garlic quinoa poppers are a great quick snack or addition to a meal. What is awesome about them from a nutrition perspective for athletes is that they are made with a base of nutrient-rich quinoa (pictured below).

Quinoa cooks up just like rice but delivers twice the protein compared to rice. Plus quinoa is gluten-free, as it is technically a seed, although is often considered a whole grain. Each serving of this recipe (2 poppers) has 6 grams of protein! 

Make a batch of these poppers up to have on hand for snacking, a great way to keep your energy up between meals! Click here to download the snacking handout for more ideas. 

Cooked quinoa

Cooked quinoa

Garlic Quinoa Poppers
Serves 12 (2 poppers each)

Ingredients:
2 eggs
3/4 cup dry quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1½ cups shredded Pepper Jack cheese
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons low fat cream cheese
Non-stick cooking spray

Directions:
1. Combine the quinoa and water in a small pan. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare a mini muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
3. In a mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Then mix in cooked quinoa and chopped onion. 
4. Add cheese, garlic, onion powder, garlic powder, and cream cheese. Mix until well combined.
5. Transfer mixture to the prepared mini muffin tin (about 1 tablespoon of mixture per muffin).
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 90 calories, 3 grams fat, 1 grams saturated fat, 40 milligrams cholesterol, 110 milligrams sodium, 10 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 1 gram sugar, 6 grams protein