We all know that gymnastics is an incredibly demanding sport that requires a lot of strength, agility, and precision. And it’s no secret that these athletes are under constant and tremendous pressure to look a certain way while performing gravity-defying feats. Unfortunately, weight and a gymnast’s body composition are often viewed as interchangeable. Not true.
With the ever-increasing rate of body image issues and eating disorders (for teen females in general, and gymnastics specifically), it’s important for us to make sure that gymnasts have healthy relationships with both food and their bodies.
When parents or coaches become concerned about a gymnast’s body or weight, we have to remember that it’s simply nature at play. Their body is changing and evolving. As it should. So when a parent or coach tries to restrict or put an athlete on a diet, they’re just setting the gymnast up for failure. Not only in terms of underfueling, injuries, and other performance-related issues. But it’s also going to set them up for more than likely major disordered eating issues.
Plus they are forgetting that a gymnast’s body composition plays a much larger role in performance than what number the scale says.
Weight changes are often a symptom of something else going on
Are they just going through puberty? Have then had a weight “overshoot” from years of underfueling? Are they over-compensating from being too-restricted with food? Are they super stressed out, not sleeping enough, and their body is NOT happy and holding onto weight?
Oftentimes, a gentle reminder to parents and coaches that weight is NOT the same as body composition can go a long way. When an athlete is properly fueled, especially when they have “within-day energy balance” (I go more in-depth on this in the podcast), the gymnast’s body composition will naturally improve. Listen to learn more.
In this episode you’ll hear:
- What happens when a gymnast is out due to injury or a major change in training hours and the body finally has a chance to “catch up” to years of underfueling
- How blaming a gymnast’s weight as the issue gets in the way of performance, along with the negative effects it has on mental and physical health
- How diet cycling, restriction, or binge eating patterns lead to negative body composition in the long run
Links & Resources
- Listen to episode #4 Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport and Gymnastics
- VIP Nutrition Coaching Program, for level 5-10 female gymnasts, now enrolling
- Connect with Christina on Instagram @the.gymnast.nutritionist
- Private 1:1 Nutrition Coaching for High-Level Gymnasts