Protein, Fats and Carbs for Gymnasts
Fortunately, your child doesn't have to go through any of these fad diets unless she is overweight or allergic to some types of food. But, you still need to take note of what she eats.
Young gymnasts have a very high metabolic
rate, making it very easy for them to burn the calories
that they consume in a day. Because their training involves
exercising for more than twenty minutes, their metabolism
can increase. In fact, their metabolic rate can remain
this way even hours after they exercise.
They need to get these calories from the carbohydrates, proteins and fats that they should take in everyday. These three nutrients have different functions in their bodies.
Why is protein important to a gymnast's body? They need it to repair the muscles that have been torn down during training. Tearing down muscles is a big part of training. If I asked you this question: "When does your child's level of physical conditioning start improving?" what would you answer. If you answered that her conditioning level improves during training, you got it wrong. An athlete's physical condition doesn't work during training. In fact, athletes become weaker right after training. Sometimes, they even have difficulties opening a water bottle because they are weak from training. This happens because their muscles incur some microscopic tears during their difficult training. It's not something to be alarmed about. It's a normal part of the strengthening process.
After working out, athletes do become stronger while they are resting. Since the muscles went through a hard time during the workout, they rebuild themselves in such a way that they would become stronger. This process is called super compensation. It is the reason why training is effective. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be as effective if there isn't enough protein in the body. This is the reason why proper nutrition is important to athletes. Your child must have the right amount of protein two hours after finishing his workout. The size of the serving depends on the age and size of the child. Most kids only require 3 to 4 ounces of lean meat.
In order to provide your gymnast the protein she needs to repair her muscles, you should include beef, chicken, lean pork and fish in her diet. Reddish fish can be a good addition to her diet. This is because reddish fish has a high content of Omega-3 oils. Protein is very important to a gymnast's diet especially after a workout or competition. In fact, it's also needed the day after because this is the period when the muscle is repairing and strengthening itself. For vegetarian gymnasts, having a lot of tofu can be a great idea. Beans and protein are considered to be a partial source of protein too.
Why do they need carbohydrates? Although carbohydrates have been given a bad name lately, it doesn't deserve to be labelled as such. Carbs are actually needed as an immediate and short-term energy source for your child's training or exercise. In fact, simple carbohydrates, like sugars, can cause an increase of blood sugar levels when it enters the bloodstream. The only disadvantage of this is the fact that the high energy can suddenly collapse when blood sugar level suddenly decreases.
In order to control the release of sugar in the bloodstream, they need to have a lot of complex carbs like whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta and some vegetables in order to be provided with the energy that they need without too many highs and lows. Although your child may need both kinds of carbohydrates to give them the energy that they need, their consumption of simple sugars should be lessened since it can harm their teeth. The energy released from carbohydrates takes the form of glycogen which is stored in the muscles. Your child's storage of glycogen becomes very low after exercise and this needs to be replenished.
Although carbohydrates are important, not all of them are good. You should keep an eye on the type of carbohydrates that your child takes in. Too much carbs from wheat flour, for example, may lead to obesity. This can be found in hamburger buns. There are many types of carbohydrates. For slow-burning fuel for long workouts, complex carbs from whole grain breads and vegetables should be taken in. If your child needs a quick burst of energy, having some simple carbs from fruits and sugars can help. Unfortunately, this may not be a good idea for some children. Simple carbs can also be used to replenish a child's blood sugar after a long workout.
Even though fats are considered to be bad for many adults, your child needs them. Fats are stored in your body's fat cells and are used as long-term fuel. Of course, it should be taken in moderation. Having a small amount of fat can be good for activities that require endurance because it is used up as fuel after the glycogen from your carbs has run out. Another reason why fat is important is the fact that it can protect your child's internal organs when she does some tumbling. Subcutaneous fat, which is found underneath the skin, can also serve as insulation from the cold.
Fats can also regulate a child's metabolism and are very much needed in a child's growth. It takes a long time for this fuel to burn. You should take note, however, that the serving of fat that one must take is dependent on the type of fat. Your child shouldn't have an excess of saturated fats in your diet. These are usually found in bacon, fatty beef and fatty pork. There should be more mono-unsaturated fats in her diet. These are usually found in olive oil, nuts, olives and fatty fish.
Aside from being a slow burning source of energy, it is needed to make food taste better. It also helps in stopping simple sugars from rapidly increasing your child's blood sugar levels.
As a matter of fact, children who tend to have sugar
spikes when taking in simple sugars should have premium
ice cream instead of ice milk. The reason for this is
the fact that ice milk or low fat ice cream does not have
enough fats to regulate the surge of blood sugar into
the bloodstream. With premium ice cream, on the other
hand, the entrance of sugar into the bloodstream is controlled
by the fat, preventing the occurrence of sugar spikes.