Should My Gymnast Eat After Practice, Even if It’s Late?

The short answer is….YES! ABSOLUTELY! EVERY NIGHT!

Now, let’s get into the why.

The Deficit

Any time an athlete works out, they create a deficit in their body. This deficit includes micro-injuries to bones, ligaments, muscles, and other connective tissue.

They also create an energy deficit where all of their energy stores have been used. The glycogen and glucose in their bodies has been used. This is especially true for a gymnast because they do not access stored tissue (fat) during workouts.

And, they can even create macro-injury where they’ve created real damage to structures in their body.

So this is the deficit.

In order for the body to super supercompensate it is essential for the body to first recover.

What Is This Supercompensation?

It’s the body’s ability to adapt to stimuli. Or in other words, the body will take itself to a higher level of fitness, if we first allow it to recover. There is a limited timeframe that supercompensation works, but when done right, it’s the base to all periodization (the planning cycle for year.)

Recovery

We eat so that our body can recover. We recover so our bodies can supercompensate. We supercompensate so we can be champions!

It becomes essential that we eat a great meal as soon as possible (within 1 1/2 hours of practice, optimally before 1 hour after practice) after our gymnasts get done working out.

What are some of the things we should be eating?

  • Proteins: salmon, chicken, beans
  • Carbohydrates: broccoli, kale, rice, sweet potatoes
  • Fats: salmon, avocado, omega 3 oils (olive, sesame, etc), nuts

Bed Time

When our gymnasts go to bed, their bodies don’t stop like adults do. If we, as adults, eat late, our bodies do not have the need for the food we just ate to be utilized as energy or repair, so the body stores the food as fat.

Our gymnast’s bodies do not slow down when they go to sleep. This is the time their bodies start to dig themselves out of their deficit. The body takes all of those great nutrients you just fed your gymnast, and it starts to put them to use by repairing cells and replacing the readily available energy stores (glycogen and glucose) that were depleted during practice.

So remember, it’s essential your athlete eats dinner after practice, even if it’s late.

But only eat dinner if you want a champion!

At Gymnast Care, we’ve created a program for athletes that helps parents provide great food for recovery. This program is called Stay Fueled. It brings together all of the meals gymnast should be eating, and then provides you as a parent a shopping list so it’s convenient for you, and all of the food you need will be ready for your athlete.

If you don’t plan your meals, I would highly encourage you to get started with Stay Fueled today so you can see the best way to provide for your athlete. Click here to find out more about Stay Fueled.

 

 

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.