Dumbbells with apple, mineral water bottle and tape measure on wood table and gym background. Concept lifestyle, health, diet and sports. Horizontal composition. Front view

Short-term tricks to produce a particular weight can lead to long term issues for the gymnast including anorexia and bulimia.

Weight control techniques

They should only be initiated and practiced under the direct supervision of a doctor. Nobody, and I do mean nobody, can easily eyeball any athlete (or person) and create an accurate assessment regarding weight loss problems and dietary needs.

“Weight” is essentially irrelevant.

Muscle tends to weigh more than fat, so, in effect, a “match” gymnast could weigh more now than when she had more body fat. The gymnast could be in better shape even though the scale says she currently weighs more.

The proportion of lean muscle tissue to fat is the most important, particularly to an athlete in which the power to weight ratio is vital in the operation of some skills. Additionally, the long term effects of repetitive exercise may also increase the prospect of injury faster in an athlete which may be a couple of pounds overweight.

In my view, no trainer must be prescribing or even indicating the gymnast change her diet with a medical test to get the proportion of fat to lean muscle tissue of the gymnast. To locate the proportion of fat to lean muscle tissue, underwater weighing or taking measurements by means of skin calipers at specific anatomical sites can help determine a base score.

Subsequent testing

Together with monitoring of food intake and exercise intensity, might be assessed by a medical practitioner to determine the correct course of action from a dietary perspective for a specific athlete. If the results imply a change in diet, that change should only happen with the advice and guidance of a professional nutritionist.

Again, both these methods should be carried out by somebody who is medically qualified to conduct an evaluation of the gymnast’s physical state.

Throughout my years in training, I’ve seen and heard several different weight loss mythologies suggested by well-meaning coaches who ultimately had no impact on the athlete’s physiology, but I wonder, what was the cost to the child’s self-esteem?

I remember a night prior to a state championships meet. Everyone was getting ready for bed in their hotel rooms, and the gymnasts were excited about a yogurt snack before lights out. Having forgotten to get spoons with their bite, I had been nominated to scrounge up some utensils and take them into the girl’s rooms.

Breaking security protocols, and basic common sense, among the younger gymnasts opened the hotel room door in my first knock before the other women in the room could conceal suitcases full of candy of all kinds, potato chips, licorice, cupcakes – everything which was the antithesis of healthy eating.

Realizing I could get my car washed for at least another month by not ratting them out into the “mind” coaches, I did warn them that they do good in the meet the following day or there might be negative consequences.

They did do good

And, as a trainer I realized that every gymnast, and usually her mother, finally have the most control within the athlete’s diet.

Mom has a huge amount of control because of what foods she purchases and the foods she makes for the household. (Incidentally, that isn’t sexist. Mom’s still are essentially in charge of family finances and deciding what’s for dinner.)

Also, I have never seen any child, from infant to young adult, that ever ate anything they did not need to eat. They spit it out as a baby or drove Mom crazy till she eventually threw the Brussel Sprouts from the garbage.

Ultimately at home, school, and social roles, the athlete gets the selection of what she eats.

Weight is a very personal matter

Insensitive remarks about weight can have lasting emotional consequences. The ideal diet for competitive gymnasts would be to supply them with good food choices at home, school, and on the street; a excellent nutritional education; knowledge of what impact nutrition can have on attaining her aggressive objectives, and a support system of parents, coaching staff, and proper medical personnel. The impacts of any weight loss program for child and adolescent athletes should be carefully monitored.