The Gymnastics Kitchen with Betsy: Power Food - Seeds

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
When preparing meal plans for my gymnasts, I always include seeds in their diets. Seeds are some of the most important components of a diet rich in calcium, magnesium, vitamins, protein, fatty acids and anti-oxidants. These are all important for athletes, who need to keep bones and muscles strong.

Below, I've listed my favorite seeds and WHY they are essential to a gymnast's meal plan.


This seed is famous for being on hamburger buns, but it actually has health benefits that do more than just sit on top of your hamburger. Sesame seeds are known for calcium, copper and magnesium, which are all essential for strong bones and muscle function.

Sesame seeds are also known for their anti-inflammatory effects, which relieve tired and sore muscles. Try tahini butter, a nutty butter made from the seeds of sesame, and spread it on ezekiel toast or mix it into Greek yogurt for a nutty treat.


Halloween may be just around the corner, but there is more to do with the inside of that pumpkin than just throwing out the contents. Like sesame seeds, pumpkin is loaded with magnesium, copper and calcium, which all aid with strong bone function.

The seeds are also filled with Omega-3 fatty acids which help with heart and brain health. An interesting fact with pumpkin seeds is research suggests they help with sleep due to the amino acid, tryptophan found in them. After a four-hour practice, a gymnast most definitely needs her sleep!


These seeds are very popular right now with health food gurus. Chia means "strength" in the Mayan language and this is an ancient seed. These seeds are known for helping metabolism and energy. They are also loaded with protein, fiber and Omega-3s.

All gymnasts need energy, protein for muscle repair and healthy fats for joint and brain health. Add these seeds into green kale shakes or on top of yogurt, or use in chicken or fish marinades for a crunchy punch.


It's not just a pretty flower! Inside are some of the most powerful seeds on earth. These selenium-rich seeds are known for their anti-cancer properties. And their vitamin E works wonders for skin, hair and nails, and again more magnesium and calcium for bone health.

These seeds can also help with muscle soreness and energy. Sprinkle them on top of salads or eat in snack mixes with other dried fruits or nuts.


This beautiful, colorful and somewhat tough-to-eat fruit is loaded with some of the most powerful and potent anti-oxidants on the planet. Pomegranate destroys free radicals that prey upon healthy cells. The seeds of this fruit are loaded with vitamin C to improve immunity and fend off sickness.

Pomegranate seeds are also heart-healthy, and help with blood flow and cartilage repair. Gymnasts are consistently on tight schedules, which compromise their immunity and break down muscle fibers daily. Add pomegranate seeds to salads, in the bottom of a sparkling water drinks, or eat them by the handful for a sweet, juicy snack.

If you are a gymnast, add these seeds to your meal plan! They are not only delicious, but also functional in aiding your muscle repair, bone health, energy levels, sleep and more!

Betsy McNally-Laouar is a sports nutritionist and personal trainer for gymnasts. She trains the elite and upper level athletes at Cincinnati Gymnastics. Betsy is an online trainer and nutrition planner. If you are interested in learning more about her nutritional plans or training plans check her out at or email her at

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