Lauren is a registered dietitian specializing in outdoor sports and performance nutrition. She runs Wilder Wellness (@lauren.wilderwellness), a community hub that promotes evidence-based nutrition information and body acceptance for athletes in the outdoor community. Lauren also works with aerial artists and trains in silks, always preferring to rig outside.
Aerial artists are elite athletes with unique nutrition needs. In this article we’ll cut through the noise, debunk nutrition myths, and get specific about what you as an aerialist need in order to best prepare for training, increase your energy level, and optimize recovery.
1. Eat a high carbohydrate snack 30 minutes-1 hour before training.
Aerialists tend to struggle with fueling before training, because no one wants to spin on a full stomach. It’s important to find a balance between nourishing yourself and preventing discomfort. Try to choose snacks that are low in fat and fiber and moderate in protein. These nutrients slow down digestion and may increase gastrointestinal (GI) distress.
Some options include:
- Fruit smoothie
- Fruit and granola bar
- Toast with peanut butter and banana
- Fruit and a hard-boiled egg
- Dried fruit on its own
- Sports drink or juice
2. Eat an easy-to-digest snack every hour on the hour
If you have a rehearsal that lasts longer than one hour, eat an easy-to-digest snack every hour on the hour. Pre-fueling ensures your muscles have a continuous supply of energy to keep you up in your silks and holding on strong. See the above examples of pre-training snacks for more ideas.
Along the same lines, I do not recommend training fasted unless your training is less than one hour, or if eating before training causes significant stomach distress. Aerial arts are high-intensity strength building activities, so staying well-nourished is the key to training effectively.
3. If you get nauseous during training, try ice packs and candied ginger.
Many aerialists struggle with nausea, especially when they are just starting or have been spinning for a long period of time. Ginger is a tried-and-true herbal remedy for nausea. Try to choose candied ginger vs ginger chews so that you get an actual chunk of ginger. As an added bonus, candied ginger can provide quick carbohydrate energy to keep you going.
And I just like to place ice packs on my head when I feel nauseous. 😊 Nausea during training may keep you from adequately nourishing yourself later.
4. Follow up with carbs and protein
About 1-2 hours after training, make a meal or snack that contains carbohydrates and protein.
I had an aerial instructor who encouraged her students to drink a glass of water, eat a lot of protein, and avoid carbohydrates after training to build muscle and stay lean. My friends: this is not true.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time I have heard some questionable nutrition advice given to aerialists. Carbohydrates and protein need to work together to build muscle. Need an idea for what to eat after training? Check out my recovery smoothie recipe below.
5. To help fight inflammation, include fruits and vegetables with each meal.
Some level of inflammation is normal after exercise, but too much can impact your ability to recover and rest up for your next training session. Fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants, which can help fight inflammation and keep your immune system strong. Don’t get thrown by the idea of “superfoods”: all plant foods contain vitamins and minerals. Eat a variety of colorful foods to get all the nutrients you need.
Drink enough water, not just during training, but throughout the day. Some symptoms of dehydration (that don’t include thirst) are trouble focusing, fatigue, and dizziness. You don’t want these issues getting in the way of your training! Try to get about half your weight in ounces of fluid per day.
For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, aim for 75 ounces of water per day.
Other sources of fluids include juice, smoothies, soup, and high-water foods like melons, grapes, and cucumbers.
Do you want help incorporating these tips into your training schedule? Lauren is currently accepting clients for 1:1 nutrition coaching with Not Your Average Nutritionist. Learn more at https://notyouraveragenutritionist.com/sports-nutrition/
You can also contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free 15-minute discovery call to see how a sports dietitian can help you.
Bonus: Recovery Smoothie for Aerialists
This smoothie contains carbohydrates, protein, and fruits to help aerialists recover from training and promote a healthy immune system.
½ cup each pineapple and strawberries, frozen
1 banana, frozen
Orange juice and water to desired thickness (about 1 cup OJ and a splash of water)
2 scoops vanilla protein powder of choice OR 1 cup plain yogurt
Blend until smooth.