Fuelling Healthy Habits in the New Year
As we head into another new year, it's the perfect time for young gymnasts to set the stage for a year of healthy, fun activity.
One of the key factors contributing to a gymnast's performance is nutrition. Proper fuelling not only enhances athletic performance but also supports overall health and well-being.
It can be too easy for hungry youngsters to reach for a sugary chocolate bar or a calorific snack, but this type of snack is best kept as a treat and not part of a healthy everyday routine.
We’ve provided a few tips for young gymnasts to cultivate healthy habits and make the most of their training in the upcoming year.
All young gymnasts require a well-balanced diet to meet the energy demands of their training sessions. Whether taking part in competitions or simply attending weekly sessions for growth and improvement, it is vital that youngsters fuel themselves adequately to ensure they have optimal energy levels.
A mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats will ensure sustained energy levels throughout the day. Carbohydrates are particularly crucial as they serve as the primary source of fuel for energetic activities like gymnastics.
Power Up Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are the best source of energy for all athletes, especially those engaged in dynamic activities like gymnastics. Fuel your little ones with complex carbohydrates like whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, oats), sweet potatoes, and whole wheat bread. These foods release energy slowly, providing a sustained source of fuel.
Proteins for Muscle Development
Protein is essential for muscle repair and development, crucial for young gymnasts who engage in regular training sessions. Include lean protein sources such as chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, beans, and tofu in their diet. Greek yogurt and low-fat dairy products are excellent choices for their added calcium and protein.
Incorporate sources of healthy fats into their diet to support sustained energy levels. Avocado, nuts, seeds, and olive oil are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which contribute to overall well-being and can help maintain energy throughout longer training sessions.
Staying hydrated is non-negotiable for optimal performance. Water is the best choice, but for longer or more intense workouts, consider incorporating electrolyte-rich drinks. Encourage young gymnasts to carry a reusable water bottle and drink consistently throughout the day.
Proper hydration helps regulate body temperature which is crucial during physical activity. It also helps maintain muscle elasticity which can prevent any unpleasant injuries.
Dehydration can lead to all kinds of nasty consequences such as heat exhaustion, impaired cognitive function, and poor recovery. That’s why it is vital for young gymnasts to keep taking regular sips of water throughout their practice.
Nutrient-rich snack ideas
If you’re looking for some great, healthy options, we have several easy-to-find recommendations to keep your young gymnasts well-fuelled. You can prepare a snack box and send them on their way in the knowledge that the temptation of the sugary snack counter will be kept at bay (for a little while anyway).
We recommend Greek yogurt parfait, trail mix, apple slices, and vegetable sticks with hummus for quick go-to snacks that do the job without over-filling them before main meals. Remember, it’s about choosing healthy foods that they enjoy which offer a quick boost of energy that they actually look forward to.
Adequate fuelling is more than choosing the right foods, it also means timing food breaks correctly. No one wants to feel full when they’re exercising, but feeling under-energised is equally unhelpful.
Encourage young gymnasts to eat a balanced meal or snack 1-2 hours before training and refuel within 30 minutes to an hour after finishing with healthy snack choices. This timing helps maximise energy levels and supports muscle recovery.
Listen to the body
There’s one overarching aspect to all of the above, and it’s the key to understanding how each and every gymnast can best aid their own wellbeing – encourage them to pay attention to their bodies.
Bear in mind that no two children are the same, and while proper nutrition is a standard requirement for any child, some youngsters may need to fuel more than others based on individual hunger and energy levels.
By encouraging them to listen to their bodies, they can keep you informed on how they feel and help to build a positive relationship with nutrition that will help them throughout their lives.
In summary, fuelling young gymnasts with the right combination of nutrients is a key component of their success. By emphasising complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, healthy fats, and proper hydration, you can help them perform at their best and promote overall well-being.
With a variety of nutrient-rich snacks at their disposal, young gymnasts can stay energised, focused, and ready to tackle the challenges of their demanding training regimen. Nourish their bodies and watch them soar to new heights in their gymnastics journey!
We hope that this helps you with your child’s eating habits and has given you some insight into sensible fuelling for growth and development. Remember, it’s not just for the now, it’s about setting habits that last a lifetime.
If you’re interested in enrolling your child into Gymnastics to keep them fit, healthy and actively engaged, Beth Tweddle Gymnastics offers free taster sessions in a wide range of areas. It’s a wonderful way to see if gymnastics is a good fit for your little ones.
We’d love to see you there!