Overhauling Gymnastics Nutrition: 5 Unacceptable and Dangerous Practices That Must Stop

Among the many areas in gymnastics that need to change, nutrition is by far one of the most immediate areas of attention.

To be completely frank, some of the things said and techniques used in relation to nutrition in gymnastics are absolutely terrifying, inappropriate, and dangerous.

This podcast is one of the most important pieces of content to come out of SHIFT.

I had an extremely in-depth discussion with 3 of the most well-respected academics and clinicians when it comes to gymnastics nutrition. Not only do they have years of extensive education in these topics, they have also worked with some of the most elite gymnasts in the world for issues like sports performance, body image, disordered eating, and properly fueling for training. They are,

These issues have been going on for 20+ years, but we still fail to change despite so many demanding it. On the heels of Athlete A being released, and so many gymnasts coming forward reporting the awful things said to them related to weight, food, and body image were, I wanted once and for all to have a brutally honest discussion about the nutrition issues that are plaguing gymnastics, and in many cases ruining young athlete’s lives.

As we say in the podcast, not everyone is malicious in their intentions. Actually, I think most coaches, parents, gymnasts, and medical providers are well-intentioned but just have really poor education given to them. I surely have made plenty of these mistakes as a younger, uneducated coach.

That being said, there are still many people in the sport of gymnastics who are using extremely inappropriate, non scientifically backed, and dangerous practices. These are the ones we tackle in the podcast head-on. They are

  1. The biggest nutrition issues within gymnastics, and how the gymnastics culture needs to change
  2. Why discussing body image, appearance, and weight with young gymnasts when not qualified is extremely dangerous
  3. Why weighing gymnasts is dangerous and often inaccurate for correlating to performance
  4. The dangers of promoting “skinny/lean” appearance in power sport like gymnastics
  5. Why “no/low carb” or “no/low fat” is not safe for young gymnasts and directly undermines health and performance

I also realize that some of the content in this podcast may be triggering for some people who are still grappling with abuse or mistreatment. I highly encourage people to use the necessary mental health tools (professionally, trusted friends, or their own space) as much as needed.

I want to keep this intro short, as there is a lot of content to cover in the podcast.

PLEASE listen, and share this with every single person in your gymnastics community. It would mean the world to me, as this is such an important topic.  I will post the YouTube video, and iTunes/Spotify/Stitcher links here. Also, below the links you can find the 4 research articles we reference throughout the podcast.


Overhauling Gymnastics Nutrition: 5 Unacceptable and Dangerous Practices That Must Stop

References / Articles

Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance

Nutritional recommendations and guidelines for women in gymnastics: Current aspects and critical interventions

Disordered eating in women’s gymnastics: Perspectives of athletes, coaches, parents, and judges.

Case Study: The Effect of Low Carbohydrate Energy Restricted Diet on Body Composition and Physical Performance of a Female Artistic Gymnast