Diets and Supplements Essential for Female Gymnasts

Published: 2021-09-13 04:35:08
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“Nutrition is the scientific study of our consumption and use of nutrients.”
Different processes occur in your body and your body needs regular maintenance to keep it working.A group in Australia that deals with a specific nutrition issue is female gymnasts. Gymnasts typically spend long days training meaning they need a diet full of energy rich foods, the issue is that typically in Australia this need isn’t being met and many gymnasts lack knowledge on what foods should be in their daily diet to help them sustain energy in training. By educating gymnasts on what they should be consuming, it will help deal with the issue faced among many female gymnasts in Australia. The main reason why it affects them is because of their lack of knowledge on how to fuel their bodies and because it is hard to have a balance of the right foods to maintain the physique gymnasts need.
Energy and Body Shape:
Energy intake needs to match energy expenditure, to allow the gymnast maintain a high level of training, repair of body tissues, cover daily energy needs, maintain reproductive function and prevent illness. Low energy nutrient intakes increase the risk of injuries, menstrual dysfunction, fatigue, lack of improvement in skills and training.
This nutrition issue affects this group because of the tiresome and intense training undertaken by gymnasts, they require a high energy diet to help them remain high performing in training and competitions. It also effects this group because gymnasts need to maintain lean and muscled physiques in order to compete as an elite athlete and generally they will have regular check ups to maintain this physique. But because they need to maintain their figure, low energy diets are put in place meaning they are at risk of inadequate nutrient intake. So it is very important that gymnasts are consuming nutrient rich foods such as iron, carbs and calcium particularly for females because they help to meet their daily nutrient requirements, but it is also important that they maintain their figure. By following a specific diet, they can deal with their nutrition issue and have a positive outcome by meeting all their bodies demands.
The main reason why it affects them is because of their lack of knowledge on how to nourish their bodies. Because it is hard to have a balance of the right foods to maintain the physique gymnasts need to complete specific tasks and skills in gymnastics, it means they resort to a low fat diet. This therefore leads to low energy levels, which affects this group because gymnasts need high energy diets to compete, but also meet the need of keeping their figure. So by informing gymnasts on nutrition it means they can meet their need of maintaining a lean physique, keep muscles strong and keep an adequate to high energy level.
The average Daily Energy requirements for a female aged 16-18 require roughly 8400- 10700kj/day. Energy intake is based off body composition, weight, gender, age, illness and physical activity. This may vary on different conditions and needs to be tailored to the gymnast. Evidently this will also vary based on the age of the gymnast, but this is based off of the average age for an elite gymnast. If excess energy is produced this will not benefit one as it will interfere with their figure turning the energy into fat. This means they also need to watch specifically the amount they are eating and what kind of foods. Gymnasts need to maintain a lean muscular physique in order to strengthen their bodies and perform skills.
There are 5 key sections of food nutrients – carbohydrates, protein, minerals, vitamins and fats & lipids. Gymnasts require a balanced diet of these 5 areas to maintain a suitable body shape and weight for competing, as well as strong bones, the right foods to help repair bones and muscles and enough energy for training/competitions. By having the correct diet, the gymnast’s needs are being met through their food.
Gymnasts require protein to repair muscles that have been damaged during training.
Athletes also become much weaker after training therefore meaning they need the nutrients to repair their body. They require protein to make sure muscles don’t break down, weakness doesn’t occur and to rebuild muscles that have been damaged during and after training. Typically, they should consume 45g/day.
For gymnasts they need to consume a large amount of complex carbohydrates, roughly 50-60% of their diet should consist of carbs. Because complex carbs are slow to digest they provide sustained energy for gymnasts who need to function through intense training sessions and competitions. A gymnasts daily diet should be made up of 45- 65% carbs of total intake of calories per day.
It is known that because of the figure gymnasts need to retain that fats should be avoided but fat is important to cushion joints to protect them from the impact caused when tumbling. It is important to avoid saturated fats which may increase bad cholesterol in the body. So its important to stick to unsaturated fats or healthy fats. In totally they should consume 85mg/day.
Vitamins play a big part in a gymnast’s diet. Without having a balanced and suitable diet to suit the sport they could be eating things that aren’t benefiting them in the areas they need. Just like a weightlifter needs large amounts of protein gymnasts need different foods to suit their sport as well. Vitamins help to build different areas of the body so that all areas are functioning and working together to perform tricks. Amount needed is determined based on the type of vitamin.
Many of these minerals are really important in the development for gymnasts to help strengthen bones, muscles and carry energy. Minerals don’t necessarily help gymnasts whilst they are training but they help to make sure that their body is prepared for training and they help produce the energy gymnasts need. Minerals help sustain gymnasts’ bodies through strengthening and producing. Again the amount varies based on the mineral.
In gymnastics injuries are bound to occur. During this time many gymnasts rest so its important to insure that one does not become complacent with their diet whilst on break. Its important to continue to fuel the body, but because its resting you may need to cut back on the portion size because exercise isn’t as intense.
Through our resources gymnasts can understand the importance that all the nutrients play and how they affect one’s energy levels. BY informing gymnasts on their diets, it means that it will provide information on the issue of lack of energy and how to fulfill the bodies requirements.
PowerPoint and Q&A:
We have used a PowerPoint presentation, food diary and food plan as our strategy to help elite gymnasts deal with the issue of lack of energy in training. To implement this strategy we will be going to elite gymnastics clubs around Australia and educating them on how to eat to provide energy for their body and what foods produce the right nutrients needed. We will have a guest speaker Susie Burrell a famous Australian Dietitian and Psychologist.
The presentation will go for roughly 40 minutes speaking on how to feed the body and continually do this through building habits and ways to implement a healthy diet. At the end will be a Q&A.
Meal Plan Kit:
At the end of the presentation, we will hand out sheets of paper with a week diet plan where the gymnasts can fill in what they’re going to eat for the week (this will be done with the guidance of coaches and the nutritionist). Once we have gotten them to fill in the food plan we will also hand out a plain booklet which will be used as a food diary for each day. At the end of the day we will get the gymnasts to write a diary entry on how they felt after eating (hungry, full), whether they felt better with the new diet, did it fuel them and any other thoughts on the meals and how they felt in training (tired). Once we have handed out their food plan kits, we will wait one week to catch up with them in their next training session.
Food Diary Feedback:
After the one week we will be able to hear their feedback and assess the success of the meal plan on their training. This will be done through reviewing their food diaries and seeing how they felt after training sessions. This will be a good way to review how the diet influenced their training and if the diet is helping and what needs adjusting. This one week check up also means we can see if the strategy worked and if it needs adjusting to suit different audiences or how we can further push the need of gymnasts needing to fuel their bodies.
Assessing the Success:
By having a presentation with a dietitian we can really express the need to fuel the body properly by hearing from a professional. Also by having a one week check up it means that during the week the gymnasts will continually be sticking to the plan and writing in their diary. The strategy is a great way to inform the gymnasts so they understand why they need to fuel their body and how foods produce energy as well as practically helping them to get started on their diets. I think that this will motivate them to be consistent and realise why they need to eat the right foods. In terms of thoroughly checking the impact of the strategy on their health, we will have Susie Burrell go around to each gymnast and review their food diaries to see what the gymnast felt during the week and help them to improve their meal plan so that it is a full proof meal plan that is fuelling the gymnast in the best way possible. We will also have a forum page for their club set up so they can review the presentation and keep us updated on how they are travelling with their diet. We will give them a link to go to so they can access the forum for their personal club. Coaches will also continue to push for the gymnasts to stick to their meal plans and be consistent.
1 slice white bread toasted with ¼ avocado & 2 poached egg
Green Smoothie (Kale, spinach, 1 banana, mixed berries, chia seeds, orange juice & hemp seeds)
White Bread – Carbohydrates providing energy
Avocado – Vitamin E and Folate
Egg – Protein to strengthen body and provide energy
Green Smoothie – Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Iron, Calcium and Vitamin A
For breakfast I have chosen bread as it is a great source of fuel for the body as it is a carbohydrate. By including protein in the eggs and avocado which is an unsaturated fat the body is already being fuelled fro the start of the day and preparing the body with healthy options. The purpose of the smoothie is not only because of the superfoods included in it but because the fruits provide the body with vitamins to keep all systems of the body functioning.
1 serving of brown rice with grilled salmon fillet
Steamed carrot, asparagus and green beans
1 bottle water with lemon and mint
Salmon – Protein to strengthen and repair muscles, small amount of healthy fat from salmon to cushion joints when performing tumble passes
Brown Rice – Carbohydrates to fuel the body through training
Mixed vegetables – Vitamin B releases energy and vitamin E protects cells
For lunch I chose brown rice because it is a healthy alternative to white rice and again is a fuelling nutrient to provide energy for the body. The vegetables release vitamins into the body and the salmon is a protein helping the body to repair and strengthen muscles.
Chickpea patty burger with tomato, carrot, red onion, beetroot, lettuce and whole meal buns
2 glasses of water
Chickpeas – Protein, Iron and Calcium
Lettuce – Vitamin A
Onion – Vitamin C
Beetroot – Folate, Fiber and Vitamin C
Carrot – Vitamin B6, A, K and C
Tomato – Vitamin C
Whole meal buns – Carbohydrates for energy
For dinner I chose chickpeas because they have many benefits and nutrients in them such as protein and iron. By including whole meal buns it’s a healthy alternative to white bread and provides the body with carbs for energy. The choice of vegetables is mostly because they are all suited to the burger and also because of the nutrients they provide the body with.
Slice of pumpkin bread with butter
1 Granny Smith Apple and Greek yogurt
1 bottle of Water
1 glass of lite milk
Water – Hydration, increase energy and brain power
Pumpkin – Folate, Carbohydrates and Vitamin B
Apple – Vitamin C
Milk – Calcium
Yogurt – Calcium
I have chosen simple snacks such as yogurt and apple as they will be good for training snacks and provide the body with energy and nutrients.
For each meal I’ve allocated either a drink of milk, juice or water. To keep the athlete hydrated I have made sure they are getting plenty of water consistently. This also help with one’s gymnastics to carry blood, keep her body moist and help control body temperature.
Not only will this meal benefit the athlete nutritionally but it will get one in better habits and means that each day the athlete having a healthy meal.
This daily plan also builds on food interrelationships and how by having a variety of food it can help provide a variety of nutrients to keep one’s body balanced. This not only help one’s body feel better by getting what it needs, but it will build one’s knowledge on how to feed the body. We believe that this plan will improve health through providing what it needs like minerals, vitamins and nutrients. But it will also provide the foods needed to support one’s gymnastics training needs. I believe that the food choices in this meal plane will be affective in improving a gymnast health issue through providing them with foods that fuel the body e.g. carbs in bread.
The athlete’s overall health will change in the sense that they may not feel as tired due to eating full meals, meaning they will be snacking less therefore meaning they are eating less unhealthy fats & will feel lighter and stronger. The meal plan itself improves the gymnast’s health because it includes all areas of the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating as well as extra carbs to fuel the gymnast.
By giving them a meal plan that fulfills the guide and a gymnast’s requirements meaning needs will be met and their health will improve due to only eating what their body requires.
​We also believe that this meal plan is balanced enough for a gymnast’s diet to provide enough energy for training.

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