OT What do competitive gymnasts eat in a day?

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Jan 17, 2023
Alright, this question comes out of nothing but pure curiosity (aka nosiness ) but I’m interested to know what a competitive gymnast would eat on a typical day. As a recreational “gymnast” (more like “constant faller” but whatever) I’d say I eat decently healthy but I do wonder what the more dedicated gymnastic kids/teens eat like. For example, today I had
- eggs and toast and milk for breakfast
- an apple before gym
- an orange after gym
- curry and rice and salad for lunch
- a mini cheesecake cupcake as a snack
- more cheesecake for a post-snack snack
- oh look more cheesecake (they’re addictive) as a post post snack snack
- Some leftover curry and rice as a pre-conditioning snack (yes I know I snack too much but my appetite is quite insatiable )
- Some vegetable pasta for dinner
- some almond nuts as a late night snack
- aaaaand more mini cheesecakes as a post - late night snack. My mom made them yesterday, and they are the best things I have ever tasted (luckily they’re bite-sized so I won’t gain 10 pounds overnight)

That’s what I might eat on a normal day, minus going overboard on the mini cupcakes. Seriously. They’re good. So how would that compare to a competitive gymnasts diet? Are there certain foods you’re restricted from or told to eat plenty of? How much do you snack? I’m excited to read your responses!
As a low level competitive gymnast with lots of dietary restrictions and allergies, I eat differently. But here's what I had yesterday:
Waffle with chocolate chips and pb for breakfast
Sweet potatoes gnocchi and mushrooms with a small cookie for lunch
Pecan halves for a snack
Insides of egg rolls for dinner
Dark chocolate Hershey kisses for dessert

I try to stay fairly healthy - usually I don't have a cookie or dark chocolate but I needed it yesterday.
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I was a level 9 competitive gymnast last year. Nutrition has always been a big thing in my life, so my diet was very important to me. And I definitely noticed a difference when I ate good- I felt less "snacky", had more energy, conditioned better, got sick less, etc. Here were a couple things I focused on:

1) Upping my protein intake, especially before gymnastics. As a rule of thumb I tried to never eat empty, carb heavy meals as many people where I live do. PB&J on white bread just doesn't cut it when you train many hours a week.

2) Eating foods that are nutrient rich and avoiding inflammatory foods. I usually had two servings of vegetables a day, and I like to make healthy swap outs such as brown rice instead of white rice and whole grain bread instead of white bread. I also never drank soda, and avoided processed sugars as much as possible.

I also made it a point to drink lots of water, and I never skipped meals. But as with everything in life, there needs to be balance. So I for sure had fun foods like once or twice a week.

Another thing I should add is I was constantly hungry. So snacks were inevitable. Thus, I made it a point to have healthy, fulfilling snacks around. Leftover smoothie, carrots and hummus, apples and peanut butter, a mini protein shake, rx bars, these were all in my regimen.
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My daughter eats primarily protein (chicken breast or egg), raw vegetables, and fruit. She also eats a lot of nuts and a decent amount of high content chocolate. For carbs, she likes “simple” Lays and bean chips. She also drinks a lot of water.

She would eat like that even if she didn’t do gymnastics, but I’m sure her protein intake would be much less.
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Typical day for my daughter:
Breakfast- water, 3 turkey maple sausages, 1 slice multigrain bread, fruit, yogurt
Snack: Granola bar
Lunch: Veggie burger on multigrain, fruit, hummus and chips, piece of chocolate
Pre-practice: Bean burrito
Practice: 1/2 or whole protein bar
Dinner: Turkey tacos, lettuce, tortilla with cheese

Obviously, the meals vary day to day, but that's a pretty accurate picture of what she eats daily for 20 hrs of training. Lots of water, some snacks in there too sometimes.
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On an average day DD eats about 2500 calories, 100g Protein, 300g Carbs, 75g fats. She is a teenager that weighs about 110lbs.
Wow, she must do a LOT of gymnastics! As a 120lbs 5’6” teen I eat 2000 calories a day, more if I’m really hungry. Maybe I need to do more gymnastics….
As a level 9 gymnast, this is what I ate yesterday:
-2 rice cakes with PB, berries, and a protein bar
-Ham sandwich, carrots, cheese+crackers, and a chobani flip yogurt
-Cabbage rolls, and an apple after
-A bowl of cheerios and a banana for a snack
This was actually less food than I usually eat, typically I would eat a larger dinner and another snack but I guess I wasn't as hungry yesterday. I really just try to eat my fruits and veggies and I will typically eat as much as I want.
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Wow, she must do a LOT of gymnastics! As a 120lbs 5’6” teen I eat 2000 calories a day, more if I’m really hungry. Maybe I need to do more gymnastics….
When I was in my late teens and early 20's (and around 140 lbs), I'd eat a 2000 calorie snack every afternoon before going to gym.

(boy do I wish I could still do that)

Anyway, when I was at my peak in my early 20's, I didn't have any particular diet regimen, but I ate a LOT. A typical day would be something like....
-4 packets of instant oatmeal for breakfast
-2 peanut butter and banana sandwiches for lunch
-An entire package of mozzarella garlic tortellini before workout
-2 footlong meatball subs after workout before I'd start coaching
-Whatever my parents cooked for dinner -- I'd usually eat as much as both my parents plus my brother combined

At the time, I was probably averaging between 20 and 30 hours of training per week, plus coaching (and I'd tumble and condition along with my athletes most nights)

These days, that amount of food would probably last me an entire week.
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