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

Preparing College Athletes for Back to School

Source: Getty images

Source: Getty images

If you are an athlete and getting ready to head off to or back to college, this is an important time to calibrate your nutrition and plan and establish a game plan for when you are at school. Sometimes fueling your body can feel like a full-time job but the effort and diligence you put in will certainly yield results. Check out these tips two steps our founder and sports dietitian, Molly Morgan recommends that you take before heading to campus:


1. Research what foods and beverages will be available and/or provided to you at school 

Some athletic programs will have specific products like tart cherry juice, protein bars, bananas, etc. that will be available at the gym. Use these items to supplement your eating routine! 

Review menus for dining halls that will be accessible and learn what is offered and what is open when. This will help you for step 2!

Find out where the nearest grocery store is and a way to get there routinely to stock up on items that will keep you fueled while studying, between classes, etc. Check out this Snack Ideas handout for nutrient-rich snack ideas. 

2. Make a Food Game Plan

Once you have done some research you can now craft together your food game plan! Taking time to think this through will help your plan become a reality because fueling your body doesn't just happen by accident. Be sure to consider your class, practice, and game schedule when crafting your plan out as some days will likely be more hectic than others. 

If you are living on your own learn or have access to a kitchen, this summer, learn to prepare some simple meals and snacks that can become part of your eating routine. For example, teach yourself how to make these Maple Sea Salt Energy Bites which could be an on the go breakfast or a great snack.

Plan for at least 3 meals and 2 - 3 snacks to meet your energy needs!

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!

Q: My son is really hungry after his evening 1.5 hour swim practice? What is a good snack choice for him?

A: After a practice lasting 1.5 hours, it is definitely key to refuel tired muscles and hydrate. Some keys to refueling includes a mix of water, quality carbs, and some protein!

I would suggest having some items with you so they can snack on the way home, for example: a shelf-stable chocolate milk box (check out Horizon Organic Milk boxes), protein or similar bar (e.g. KIND Snacks Protein Bar), and banana. 

Below are some more reminders and quick snack ideas.


Q & A with Rob Baxter, Owner of BX Training

Rob Baxter is owner of  BX Training  in Binghamton, NY. 

Rob Baxter is owner of BX Training in Binghamton, NY. 

Q: In your experience in training athletes, what is one nutrition mistake you see commonly made?

A: Something I commonly see with many athletes I work with is simple lack of discipline in regard to eating for performance. Maintaining the consistency required to properly fuel their body can be a significant challenge for most. 

Excuses are commonplace and must be eliminated to be successful. Basic honest self analysis works best. I often challenge my athletes to ask themselves one simple question, “do my habits reflect my goals?” 

Eating well balanced, planned out meals (preferably at pre determined meal times) each day is crucial to not only feeling & playing strong but also a key component to staying healthy throughout a long season. 

Q: Have you observed that well-fueled athletes meet their training goals quicker? Can you share any examples?

A: Well-fueled athletes are more likely to not only meet their training goals quicker, but also possess the ability to maintain a higher level of performance more consistently. Their bodies also hold up throughout the grind and bounce back quicker for the following practice/game.. as soon as one is over, the intelligent athlete will begin to prepare his body for the next session thru treatment, nutrition & rest. 

A few years ago, I trained Kevin Jones following his senior year at West Virginia in preparation for the NBA Draft process. This is a high pressured process where an athlete will travel from city to city working out for various NBA Organizations. Within a 30 day period, Kevin probably went to 20 different teams and performing his best at each workout was obviously very important. In preparation for such a grueling physical, mental and emotional run we did our best to integrate skill work, strength work, nutrition, hydration and recovery into our overall 60 day training program with Kevin. His hard work, dedication & discipline paid off later that year as he made the Cleveland Cavaliers as an undrafted rookie. Kevin’s desire to be great and willingness to put in the work to do so is the reason he is now a professional, while also being remembered as one of the most productive players in West Virginia and Big East history. 

Q: If you could give athletes one thing to focus on with nutrition, what would it be?

A: A few years ago I was hired to train the Monmouth University Men’s basketball team for the entire Spring semester in preparation for a summer trip to China where they would visit the country and compete against some of their top professional teams. 

The number one thing I tried to accomplish aside from the physical aspect of the program was to instill proper hydration techniques along with post workout recovery shake and meal consumption. Each player was given a precise plan of what was required of them to intake on a daily basis as well as the most important time to eat/drink etc.  We were significantly challenging these young men physically.. we needed them to give their very best each day in order to get the desired results.. therefore it was crucial that each of them was getting appropriate nutrition, hydration and rest. 

Q: What is a tip you can share with parents of youth athletes related to food? 

A: My advice to parents of young athletes is to hire a registered dietitian to assess your son/daughter and provide an “Eat to WIN” plan of attack. This will insure their needs are being met daily in regard to nutrition. There are so many factors to be considered such as age, gender, body composition, training/tournament frequency, overall weight loss/weight gain goals, etc etc. Having a professionally designed plan to meet your child’s individual nutritional needs as an athlete can be the difference not only in performance, but more importantly with general health and wellness. 


The BX Training Philosophy: As a training organization, our primary goal is to provide athletes with the most complete and professional program for personal and performance enhancement. We train each individual person to become the best possible athlete that they are capable of becoming. For more on BX Training or to contact Rob visit:

Q & A with Mike Sdao

Mike Sdao Professional defenseman currently with the Rapid City Rush (ECHL) and formerly with the Binghamton Senators (AHL). 

Mike Sdao Professional defenseman currently with the Rapid City Rush (ECHL) and formerly with the Binghamton Senators (AHL). 

Q: What is the biggest challenge around food & nutrition for you as an athlete?

Finding healthy food to eat on the road. 

Grab quick on the go snack ideas with this Fuel 2 Win handout, click here to download it. 

Q: What is one (or more) of your favorite go-to snacks to keep your energy levels up?

Simple carb like air popped popcorn or pretzels. 

Q: What is your favorite grain and how do you like to have it (e.g. quinoa, brown rice pasta, etc.)?
Rice, I like to have it on game days because it is easy and I feel like it gives me energy without feeling heavy like pasta or some other carbs.

Q: If you could give a nutrition tip to another athlete what would it be?
It can make a big difference not only in your performance but in your consistency. 

Q: Do you have a favorite smoothie combination that you enjoy?
I've actually moved onto juicing rather than smoothies just because I feel like I sometimes put on weight when I have smoothies often.