The Gymnastics Kitchen With Betsy: Energy Foods For The Tired Gymnast

The Gymnastics Kitchen With Betsy: Energy Foods For The Tired Gymnast

Ever feel like you have done all of the conditioning in the world, and yet still you can't seem to make it through your floor routine? Feeling tired after only one hour of your four hour practice?

Jun 27, 2017 by Betsy McNally
The Gymnastics Kitchen With Betsy: Energy Foods For The Tired Gymnast
Ever feel like you have done all of the conditioning in the world and yet you still can't seem to make it through your floor routine? Are you feeling tired after only one hour of your four-hour practice?

The problem may not be in your conditioning regime but rather in the foods that you are eating -- or NOT eating.

Here are various different reasons that could contribute to a lack of energy:
  • ​Lack of sleep
  • Too much sugar in your diet
  • Not enough water
  • Lack of essential vitamins and minerals that support energy production
 Here are some vitamins and minerals you may need to replenish if your energy is lacking:


This mineral is responsible for activating ATP in the body, which is the the most fundamental component of energy. It basically "starts our engines." Magnesium provides us not only with energy but also helps activate nerves in the body, aids in muscle soreness and cramping, and relieves constipation. If you are lacking in this mineral, you may be feeling sluggish and slow.

Gymnasts need to make sure they are getting enough magnesium in their diets through foods such as avocados, yogurt, spinach, nuts, and seeds. Add a spinach salad to your meal plan and top with seeds and avocados for a magnesium-rich meal.

Vitamin B12

This vitamin is essential for all gymnasts because it keeps blood cells strong and functioning at their highest level. It's crucial for proper cell metabolism, nerve function, and energy production.

If you are feeling fatigued, try to up your intake of foods rich in vitamin B12. Some great sources of B12 are organic, grass-fed meats; chicken and eggs; wild fish; and... ewww, yuck... liver! Think like a stone-age cavewoman and return to your meat-eating ways if you are always tired during practice! 

A great way to get B12 into your diet is by eating eggs and chicken for breakfast. Try two egg whites and one whole egg scrambled with 3 ounces of shredded grilled chicken. Scramble in magnesium and fiber-rich spinach for a delicious breakfast omelet.

Often in my nutrition seminars, I get many questions regarding the extra supplementation of vitamin B12 shots. Many times if athletes aren't getting or absorbing enough B12 they will supplement through these shots. As a sports nutritionist, I always recommend that you ask your doctor before adding any supplements not found in "regular food" to your diets.


Iodine is a mineral that helps with the functional of our glands, specifically thyroid production. A slow thyroid leads to low energy and sluggishness. Metabolism can be enhanced through foods rich in iodine.

Iodine helps our glands function, which directly effects our energy and metabolism. It's also important for skin and brain health. Some foods rich in iodine are egg yolks, dried prunes, and wild fish such as tuna and halibut as well as plants from the sea, including seaweed (nori, kombu, and wakame). Sushi, anyone?

In addition, complex carbohydrates (such as oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, and sweet potatoes) help with energy production and keep blood sugar stable.


Try these foods if you are bonking out on your last tumbling pass!  

Chia seeds: This ancient food is defined as "strength" in the Mayan language. Add to salads and green shakes or crunch on these powerful seeds filled with iodine, magnesium, fiber, and essential fatty acids.

Seaweed: It's rich in vitamins and minerals that are non-toxic, non-GMO,  and "organic" naturally. Try out seaweed salad and seaweed chips or eat sushi rolls that are wrapped in nori! I have yet to meet a gymnast who doesn't like sushi with her gal pals!

Pineapple: My favorite energy food of the bunch. Pineapple is filled with magnesium and digestive and anti-inflammatory compounds. What gymnast doesn't want energy, great digestion, and help for her sore muscles? Pineapple is a gymnast essential! Add it to fruit salads and smoothies or eat plain for a delicious pre-workout snack!

Betsy McNally-Laouar is a personal fitness and gymnastics trainer certified in Sports Nutrition. She works with gymnasts all around the country online and through camps. If you need more help with gymnastics recipes, meal plans and fitness, check out her website, and email her at or her Facebook page Betsy McNally Laouar Gymnastics Nutrition and Fitness Specialist