Gymnastics Nutrition: Myths and Misunderstandings with Dr. Jamie Schehr
As you can gather from the title, today is quite an important blog post. I have said many times that nutrition is without a doubt one of the most important aspects to performance and health in gymnastics. I have also been quick to say that I am not a nutritionist, and due to the seriousness of the subject matter, I refer out to Registered Nutritionists and Doctors regularly.
It’s crucial that we work with professionals who have advanced scientific degrees in nutrition science, but also understand how to talk to young athletes and apply easy to use, practical strategies. Yes, understanding biochemical equations and enzyme reactions are crucial. But so is being able to deliver that information properly to a 14-year-old.
I am lucky that through my travels, I have met many amazing Nutritionists. I have had great conversations about what nutritional needs gymnasts need, healthy ways to talk about food with athletes, and the benefits that come out of “fueling for performance” as my friend Dr. Josh Eldrige says.
On a bigger scale, it’s just flat out obvious that all of gymnatics needs an overhaul on our knowledge, understanding, and use of the correct nutritional advice to gymnasts. There are many people who are well-intentioned, and just undereducated. On the other side of the coin, I have also seen some terrifying examples of what gymnastics may be doing very wrong in relation discussing food or offering nutrition recommendations. These include the damaging effects of discussing weight, body image, verbally or non verbally suggesting a gymnast should watch their carbohydrates or fats without understanding macronutrients, and having a culture that is toxic related to food.
One of my go-to sources of information for all of these topics is Dr. Jamie Schehr. She is a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine and also is a Registered Dietician. Along with being an amazing human, she is the CEO of her own Nutrition company working with a range of people (from everyday adults to elite athletes), she runs a performance testing company looking at exercise physiology metrics called XFit Labs, and is the mom of 2 daughters so she understands being “in the trenches”. The best part is, she was a gymnast growing up. Dr. Schehr has also helped me personally with a ton of nutritional work.
After many conversations over the last 3 years, I wanted to sit down and record a discussion that was not afraid to talk about some really tough subjects about gymnastics nutrition. Although there are many areas of gymnastics that are approaching this topic in the correct way, that blunt reality is that nutrition still continues to be a source of huge problems in our sport.
Before listening to Jaimie’s full podcast, also be sure to download SHIFT’s Gymnastics Nutrition E-Book which is a really good complement to the concepts we discuss.
The SHIFT Gymnastics Nutrition E-Book
- Understand the basics of nutrition, and why "Fueling for Performance" is an essential mindset
- Learn how the quality and quantity of nutritional intake must be taught to gymnasts
- Learn to prevent the dangers of poor fueling habits
I personally feel far too many people are just giving opinions about nutrition in gymnastics, instead of seeking out people who have high levels of expertise in the subject matter, who invest the time to read the newest scientific research, and can give practical ways to implement these ideas with young athletes. I figured the best approach would be to just sit down with Jaime and ask her the most important questions. This way, I could learn more but also get it on video so everyone around the world in gymnastics could get some high-quality information to use with their athletes.
You can watch it below on SHIFTs latest Expert of The Month Series. We ended up talking for almost an hour, and the content inside is invaluable. I hope it’s helpful, and please share it with your gymnastics community online!
For anyone who wants to learn more about Dr. Jaime Schehr, you can find her here at https://www.jaimeschehr.com/
Have a great week,
Dr. Dave Tilley DPT, SCS, CSCS
CEO/Founder of SHIFT Movement Science