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

Quick Snack Ideas

“One of the biggest mistakes I see athletes make is their snack choices”, says sports dietitian and Fuel2Win Founder, Molly Morgan. Most athletes need snacks to help meet their daily energy needs yet often snacks are being skipped or comprised of sub-optimal options.

Here are some quick snack ideas to stock-up on and bring along or grab when you are on the go!

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Banana + Peanut Butter

A super simple snack is a banana + peanut butter. It delivers a combination of quality carbs, protein, and healthy fats. Plus bananas are rich in potassium, which is a key mineral for muscle contraction and for fluid balance.

To make this an easier snack for the car, opt for single serve cups of peanut butter. Then you can just dip the banana (carefully) right into the peanut butter or keep a plastic knife with you to spread the peanut butter.

Hummus + Chips

Hummus + Chips

Protein-rich hummus is a perfect snack, pair it with whole grain chips or even sliced veggies like red pepper, cucumbers, or baby carrots.

Also look for single serving cups of hummus which are perfect for travel.

KIND Nut Butter Filled Snack Bar (Photo: KIND Snacks)

KIND Nut Butter Filled Snack Bar (Photo: KIND Snacks)

KIND Snacks PB Stuffed Bars

These bars are simply delicious and really filling! The first ingredient is peanut butter and the coating is oats and oat flour-based. Each bar has 170 calories, 3 grams fiber, and 4 grams protein.

They are also available in honey almond butter!

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.