3 Critical Nutrition Tips Gyms Can Do to Improve Performance

Over the past 2 months I have had the opportunity to give our Nutrition = Performance Seminar throughout the U.S. and have found that gyms do very similar things in regards to nutrition in the gym. So I wanted to give you 3 performance tips that you can implement in your gym to make a big difference TODAY!

1. Allow Gymnasts to Carry Their Water Bottle to Each Event

This one is essential, and some studies say that adult athletes should be drinking 16 fluid ounces of water each hour they work out. For a little tyke, that’s way too much water and you risk them floating out of the gym if they drink that much, but they need to have the opportunity to drink when they have the desire to do so.

Redwood Empire Gymnastics in Petaluma, CA implemented a very cool strategy. They bought water bottle carriers (click here to find ones just like this on Amazon) and assigned one gymnast to be in charge of moving the water bottles from one event to the other on that day. This ensured that there were no runaway water bottles and if there was any leakage, she could clean it up. Check out these pictures of the idea:

Gymnast in charge of water bottles

2. Have a Mid-Workout Snack

Having a mid-workout snack is critical for gymnasts because of how long gymnasts practice. Gymnasts primarily utilize anaerobic and creatine phosphate cycles to process energy for their work in the gym. They do short bursts of exercises that last under two minutes.

Because of this, they only use the glucose and glycogen that is already in their bodies. They are not able to access stored tissue (fat stores) during practice, so when they run out of readily available glycogen, they crash.

So how do we get more glycogen and glucose into their bodies?


And fruit is the optimal choice.

During practice, we want to see them eating fruit for their mid-workout snack because there is a ton of great sugar in fruit that is then turned into glucose and glycogen once it hits the blood and muscles.

The mid-workout snack does not require 15 minutes. There just has to be enough time to get the fruit into the belly. Some gyms will buy grapes and the gymnasts have these in-between events as they swing by their locker to get their grips or other equipment.

If you already have a mid-workout snack, then making fruit the only approved food to bring is the way to go. This weekend, I was at Electric City Gymnastics in South Carolina and this is their policy. So to better support this policy, they have GoGo Squeeze at the snack counter. GoGo is an organic apple sauce in a squeezable pouch. Click here to see an example on Amazon.

3. A Carbohydrate Drink

This one definitely can become more controversial, because what gym owner wants ants and rodents running around his gym after a gymnast spilled a carbohydrate drink?

But here are the stats: Some studies say that giving an athlete that does intermittent work a carbohydrate drink, can increase their ability to do work by 33%…Whoah!

That’s a ton more work.

In Because She’s Worth It: A Nutritional Guide for Parents with Daughters, we highlight the story of Jessica Nesis. Jessica would eat her pre-workout snack and come to gym energized. She would drink water the first hour because she had lots of great ¬†energy from her pre-workout snack. The second hour she would drink her carbohydrate drink to replace the diminishing energy stores from the first two hours. Then in-between her second and third hour she would have fruit for her mid-workout snack. Because she just used fruit to power back up, the third hour she would utilize water, and then during the fourth hour, when most of her peers would start to get tired, she would utilize a carbohydrate drink to stay powered up.

She always would say that this helped her to finish practice strong.

As a gym owner, you should look at the risk between spills and the increased performance/injury prevention benefits you could get from utilizing a carbohydrate drink.

What is a carbohydrate Drink? Gatorade is the substance that most studies have been done on and it is 6% carbohydrates. I personally don’t think Gatorade/Powerade are optimal because of the extra junk, like dyes that they put into the drink.

There are two that I do recommend.

  1. Coconut water with a pinch of salt (this one was found in studies to be the most gentle on gymnasts stomachs)
  2. 1/2 Water & 1/2 Juice with a pinch of salt (juice is at 13% carbohydrates so when we cut it in half, we get back to the 6% region)

Wrapping It Up

These are the three most important nutrition tips that you can implement into the gym today to see amazing performance increases. They’re simple, but they will have a big effect on your gym and your gymnasts. Some of these might take some organization and agreement with your gymnasts, but our number one goal is to protect gymnasts from injury, and these tips definitely will help us get there.

We want to hear ways that you implement good nutrition in your gym. Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts. We’re definitely looking forward to hearing from you!

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Dr. Joshua Eldridge

About Dr. Joshua Eldridge

Dr. Joshua Eldridge has specialized in protecting gymnasts from injury. He is the inventor of The X Brace, and has developed a treatment protocol for Sever's disease and heel pain that has helped thousands of gymnasts throughout the world. Dr. Eldridge brings practical, easy injury care and prevention that can be done at home.