Nutrition For Calisthenics & Street Workout Athletes

nutrition for calisthenics and streetworkout

Posted On December 1, 2019

Melbourne, like all modern cities, is stuck in a constant cycle of food fads. We are infatuated by the most absurd food trends. It seems for every one nutritional advance we are subject to tenfold that number in marketing gimmicks, unsustainable diets and downright nutritional propaganda.

We live in a world where every third person will try to convert you to the religion of veganism, and where people don’t eat gluten not because they are intolerant, but because it’s the cool thing to do. We’re hit with buzzwords like ‘organic’ and ‘free-range’, and we buy without doing research, because we are time-poor and sometimes manipulated by clever marketing.

Sometimes these concepts have some merit, but often, we are manipulated into paying top dollar for food that is much the same as the ordinary stuff – if not worse.

For calisthenics athletes in Melbourne and elsewhere, it is important not to get caught up in the disorientating dietary maelstrom but instead to focus on the fundamentals.

Nutrition can be broken down into macronutrients and micronutrients

 

Carbohydrates

Proteins

Fats

Carbohydrates

Proteins

Fats

Macronutrients

Macronutrients consist of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. They make up the greater proportion of your diet, and their balance is important for energy, building muscle and maintaining homeostasis.

Carbohydrates

 

Carbohydrates can be categorised into simple sugars (monosacharides & disacharides) and complex sugars (polysacharides). Carbohydrates primarily serve as a source of energy. Glucose circulates in the blood (blood sugar) and any excess sugar is stored in the body as glycogen found in the liver and skeletal muscles.

Simple sugars include glucose, fructose, sucrose (table sugar) and lactose (the sugar found in milk). They are quick to metabolise and spike your blood sugar giving you that sugar high!

Complex sugars such as starches are much slower to metabolise and have a slower more sustained release of energy.

Glycemic Index (GI)

 

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a scale from 1 to 100. It helps us determine how quickly a particular food can be metabolised. Pure glucose is rated 100, and acts as a comparison for other foods.

The simpler the sugar, the closer it will be to 100. This is relevant when discussing food composition, as it can be useful to know how quickly we are able to release energy from food.

Low GI foods are associated with a more progressive release of sugar into the blood and are great for lasting energy and keeping relatively stable blood sugar levels.

High GI foods will instead spike blood glucose and consequently insulin and are associated with sugar highs and lows (this can lead to increased snacking as we try to maintain our sugar levels).

Fibre

 

Fibre is a type of carbohydrate we cannot digest. Fibre can largely be divided into soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre absorbs water and slows gastro-intestinal movements, while insoluble fibre does not react with water and speeds up gastro-intestinal movements.

Fibre is also an important food source for the good microbes that live in our guts. Sustaining these microbes is important for overall health as they produce Vitamin K, some B Vitamins and short chain fatty acids that have many important roles in human physiology!

Fats

 

When the body’s limited sugar storage is filled, an excess calories are stored as fat in the form of triglycerides in adipocytes (fat cells). This fat can be stored subcutaneously (below the skin) or as visceral fat (surrounding organs).

Fat has many roles other than storage, for instance it’s used in the natural synthesis of steroid hormones, cell membranes and bile formation.

Fats can be saturated or unsaturated – know the difference!

 

Saturated fats are found in animal products (except fish) and tropical plants (coconut).  They are solid at Room Temperature

Unsaturated fats are found in vegetables, nuts, fish. They are oils, that is, they are liquids at  room temperature.

The body is capable of producing saturated fats on its own and so it is not necessary to eat them. There are however 2 unsaturated fats that we must obtain from our diets Omega 3 and Omega 6 – we say these are essential fats because it is essential that we obtain them from our diets.

Omega 3 and 6 are in equilibrium. It is important to eat them in the correct ratio as they have somewhat antagonistic effects. Omega 6 has inflammatory effects while Omega 3 has anti-inflammatory effects.

Excess omega 6 fatty acids are also linked with obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and non-alcohol induced fatty liver disease, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and other diseases. There is no risk of Omega 6 deficiency as it’s ubiquitous in the Western diet.

LDL vs hdl – these are not fats!

 

LDL and HDL are proteins that transport fats in the blood. LDL is associated with cardiovascular risk. Although it is generally simplified that all saturated fats are bad and all unsaturated fats are good – each fat has unique and can have an effect that does not match this umbrella terminology.
LDL and HDL are proteins that transport fats in the blood. LDL is associated with cardiovascular risk. Although it is generally simplified that all saturated fats are bad and all unsaturated fats are good – each fat has unique and can have an effect that does not match this umbrella terminology.

Proteins

 

Proteins have functions from digestion to metabolism, to forming the structures of hair and nails, and forming the contractile filaments that make your muscles move! They have by far the most diverse myriad of uses of all the macronutrients.

Proteins are made up of amino acids. There are 20 amino acids, each differ by their chemical R group. 9 out of the 20 are essential, meaning we must consume them in our diets.

You can think of amino acids as lego blocks, each having unique chemical properties. Amino acids are chained together to create proteins.

Proteins are then folded into 3D shapes by the nature of the chemistry of their amino acid constituency. Each protein has a unique function.

Veganism and calisthenics

 

Animal products contain all 9 essential amino acids, and so many of us don’t necessarily think about getting all of our required amino acids.

Plant-based foods, however, generally do not contain all 9. It is therefore important for anyone considering strictly plant-based diets to understand which foods contain which amino acids – and match up their dietary choices with the full range of essential amino acids.

Micronutrients

Micronutrients are consumed in much smaller quantities and consist of minerals and vitamins. They are required for many chemical processes in the body, and their lack can cause various ailments.

Street Workout St Kilda hopes to give life to this calisthenics movement by providing guidance to athletes hoping to learn calisthenics and the intricacies of bodyweight training in a safe and supportive environment, with the correct progressions. We provide classes, personal training and programming for those that want to fast-track their progress in the calisthenics world.

We currently operate Melbourne’s south-east. Whether you’d like to learn iconic isometric holds like the handstand or planche, or if you’re more into freestyle and barflow, join us and let us help you become a street workout athlete!

Need help with your nutrition?

We can sort your diet out and give you some useful tips.

When do I take protein, and how much? What food groups do I need to eat to help build muscle? Should I be eating carbohydrates if I’m trying to lose weight? 

We can answer all your questions – check out our nutritional guidance service page! 

Written by Vic

Melbourne-based Personal Trainer, Calisthenics Athlete and the Founder of Street Workout St Kilda. Super passionate about bodyweight training and the art of movement.
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