Rhythmic gymnastics is a mesmerizing and extraordinary sport. Gymnasts’ skills rely heavily on their flexibility skills, balance, and strength that are results of developed muscles. Since gymnasts start their training at an age as early as 3 years old, if their diet is not properly monitored, they might not develop their muscles so well. If a gymnast’s muscle isn’t developed so well, chances are, she is going to have a difficult time doing this sport. This is why it is important to know just how much is a young gymnast’s daily protein requirement.

The ideal diet for a rhythmic gymnast is one that is a balance between carbohydrates and good fats for energy. Obviously, energy is important in this sport, but unlike other sports like swimming or long-distance running, rhythmic gymnastics is an anaerobic sport—meaning it requires short bursts of power rather than endurance.

Aside from those two mentioned, protein must always be included in their diet.

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Why Gymnasts Needs Protein

Young gymnasts still has a long way to go before reaching adult height, add to that the fact that they have a high metabolic rate, meaning they easily burn calories they take in during the day. A balanced diet with all the essential nutrients will help develop and maintain lean muscles as well as give confidence for an athletic performance that is needed from a gymnast.

Since kids are still developing their muscles, protein is very helpful with this process. Training every single day leaves microscopic tears to the muscle, which are common, and this is where protein comes in. Muscles that have been torn during rhythmic gymnastics training are regenerated by having an adequate amount of protein two hours after working out.

The time when they should take in protein is important. It is also necessary the day after training, because that is the period when muscles are repairing and strengthening themselves. Remember, gymnasts need a lean muscle mass to keep progressing in the sport.

The amount of protein we should feed our young gymnasts every day varies from child to child. In order for them to get the most out of the protein that we are feeding them, we must prepare a snack that has 12 to 14 grams of protein with a calorie amount of around 40% of what they burned during training. For example, if they burned 300 calories on today’s training, we must prepare a snack that contains about 120 calories.

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Choose Their Protein

There are various sources of protein in the market, and if our kids are vegetarian, there are choices for them as well because it doesn’t matter what categories our children fall into, if they need a lean muscle mass, there is no hindrance into attaining it.

One of the various sources of protein is fish. Seafood is the best choice for meats because it has lower levels of saturated fat than beef and poultry. Fishes, specifically cod, herring, mackerel and salmon contains high levels of omega-3. Although it is a type of fat, it is good for the heart—meaning it prepares our kids’ body for an intense training—and has low calories, usually having 100 calories or less per a cooked portion of 3 ounces. Seafood also contains all nine of the amino acids that our kids’ bodies need to get from food.

Another good source of protein is soy, which is a healthy alternative for foods that contain large amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat, although it has a small amount of saturated fat in itself. This is proven to reduce the risk of heart diseases as well, and is rich in magnesium, fiber, vitamin B, and again omega-3 fatty acids.

After fish, the second best choice for meat as a protein source is chicken and turkey. However, we have to be very careful with feeding our kids these because they contain high amounts of saturated fat, so we must choose the leanest cuts as possible or remove the skin to reduce the calories from fat. They can be grilled, baked, or roasted. If possible, we must steer clear from fast food take outs as they have high amounts of salt and added sugar.

Lastly, another option for the vegetarians is lentils, beans and peas. They are extremely tasty and has loads of protein, so much so that two small cups full of cooked lentils are enough for our kids to have the minimum dose of proteins required of their body.

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