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.

Table of Contents
1. Carbohydrates
2. Glycaemic Index (GI)
3. Fibre
4. Fats
5. Saturated Vs Unsaturated Fats
7. Protein
8. Veganism
9. Micronutrients

Nutrition Can Be Broken Down Into Macronutrients And Micronutrients








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 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.


Carbohydrates are are sugars. The bigger they are, the longer they take to metabolise.  

carbohydrate sugar

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).


Glycaemic index is a scale from 1 to 100 that indicates how quickly a food releases energy. 



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!


Fibre is an indigestible carbohydrate that aids digestion, good microbes and vitamin production. 



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.

unsaturated fats

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.


Saturated Fats

Unsaturated Fats

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.


Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are found in animal products. Unsaturated fats are oils and found in plant products and fish. Omega 3 and 6 are fats we must consume in our diets.  

LDL vs HDL – These Are Not Fats!


LDL and HDL are proteins that transport cholesterol (a type of fat) in the blood. HDL rounds up cholesterol and transports it to be stored in the liver. LDL transports cholesterol from the liver to the arteries. LDL is associated with cardiovascular risk because excess cholesterol at the arteries can form plaques – a build up of fat and protein that narrows the blood vessels and leads to atherosclerosis which in causes hypertension and ultimately serious cardiovascular complications such as stroke and coronary heart disease.

By consuming saturated and unsaturated fats, the balance of LDL & HDL can change in the blood. Saturated fats increase the presence of LDL while unsaturated fats increase the presence of HDL. Because of this saturated fats contribute to atherosclerosis while unsaturated fats can help prevent it.    

Although it is generally simplified that all saturated fats are bad and all unsaturated fats are good – each fat has unique chemistry and can have an effect that does not match this umbrella terminology.


LDL and HDL are proteins that transport fats in the blood. LDL contributes to blood vessel plaque formation, HDL helps prevent this.  



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.


Animal products contain all essential amino acids. People that don’t eat animal products need to eat a plant products that contain the full complement of amino acids.  


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.

Magnesium is an important micronutrient for enzymatic reactions, bone strength and neural signalling. It has many purposes, but is especially beneficial for anyone who suffers from muscle cramps and muscle tightness. Any serious athlete should consider its use for muscle relaxation after workouts. 


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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