Nutrition Habits for Aesthetic Athletes

by Lauren Nugent on September 18, 2016

Have you ever wondered how a ballerina maintains their svelte figure?  Or how a gymnast is both strong and lean at the same time?  Or how a diver is so streamlined in their physique but has the strength to tumble in the air?  These aesthetic sports rely on nutrition for training performance, recovery, optimal performance when competing and body composition management.

Did you know that every extra kilo that a gymnast weighs, it adds 6kg of force on landing which puts incredible load on joints and requires strong musculature to cope with the force.  Part of the sports dietitian’s role is to assist the aesthetic athlete to understand their optimal body composition and how to achieve it.

Some aesthetic athletes are fortunate to have genetics on their side, others have to work hard to maintain or achieve the physique required for their sport.

Here are Eat Smart’s top 5 nutrition habits for an aesthetic athlete:

  1. Eat the rainbow!  Choose as many different coloured fruits and vegetables as possible.  Due to the high intensity and often long duration of training sessions, aesthetic athletes have a higher requirement for antioxidants which are mainly consumed in fruits and vegetables.
  2. Flush your system.  Even know the training is usually completed indoors or in water, this does not mean hydration can be forgotten!  A well-hydrated athlete is able to concentrate for longer, eliminate waste and toxins effectively and is usually less hungry.
  3. Protein power.  Good quality proteins such as lean red meat, skinless poultry, fish, eggs, tofu or legumes are great choices for muscle recovery as well as helping to keep the athlete feeling full and satiated.  Lower fat dairy products can also be used as a quality protein source.
  4. Cows are cool!  Cow’s milk dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese are fantastic sources of calcium and protein.  Dairy has become a hot topic in the nutrition world but for aesthetic athletes who rely on strong bones (and teeth for all those mega watt smiles!), cow’s dairy comes up a winner.  For those who cannot tolerate cow’s dairy, soy or high calcium/high protein rice milk is best.
  5. Energy foods around training.  Aesthetic sports require plenty of energy to train long hours.  It is important to ensure good quality energy foods before training to provide fuel to use during the session.  Strategically timed energy foods may be required after training also, to refuel ready for another session later in the day or the next day.  Good quality energy foods include grain or wholemeal breads, wraps & crackers; long grain rice; small amounts of pasta; quinoa and starchy vegetables such as corn, potato and sweet potato.  Different athletes require different amounts of energy so this is best discussed with your Eat Smart Dietitian to get your energy food intake right.

Lauren James, Advanced Sports Dietitian is fortunate to work with the very talented aesthetic athletes of the Qld Ballet, Gymnastics Qld and individual athletes.


Warm Spring Salad

by Lauren Nugent on September 6, 2016

Now that the weather is starting to warm up, it is a perfect time to try some warm salad recipes. Below is a great, quick and easy idea for a lunch or light dinner.

Lamb, kale, haloumi, pomegranate & pumpkin warm spring salad. (Serves 4)



Pomegranate is a fragrant fruit with a sweet-sharp taste from the abundance of pearls inside, which add an interesting texture to any dish. When growing pomegranate it prefers the warmer weather and therefore starts coming into season from September to February.


  • 500g lamb backstrap, fat trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
  • 600g Jap pumpkin, unpeeled, cut into 3cm chunks
  • 1 bunch kale, trimmed, thinly shredded, no stalks
  • 2/3 cup Chobani plain Yoghourt
  • 1/2 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ lemon, squeezed for juice
  • 180g haloumi, thickly sliced
  • 1 pomegranate, seeds dislodged (see video link)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves, torn


1. Preheat oven to 200C fan. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Place pumpkin and half of oil in a large bowl. Season and toss to coat. Arrange on prepared tray in a single layer. Roast for 25 minutes or until tender and golden.

2. Season lamb with salt and pepper. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook lamb, in 2 batches, for 4 minutes each side for medium or until cooked to your liking. Transfer to a plate. Cover with foil.

3. Meanwhile, combine yoghurt, garlic and lemon juice in a medium bowl.

4. Cook haloumi in a non-stick fry pan for 1-2 minutes each side or until soft and golden and slice the lamb into thin slices.

5. Arrange kale and pumpkin on a serving platter. Sprinkle over pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and half of mint and toss gently to combine. Add sliced lamb. Dollop over yoghourt dressing and top with haloumi and the remaining mint.


Buy: Pick pomegranates that are heavy for their size (indicating a high liquid content) with taut and unbroken skin.

Prepare: How to de-seed a Pomegranate in less than 1 minute by Jamie Oliver

Store: Stored in a fridge or other cool, dry place, pomegranates keep for many weeks if not months.


Photo Credentials: Mark O’Meara,


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