Best Nutrition for a Figure Skater

Written By: Riedell | June 5, 2024

Figure skating demands a unique blend of strength, endurance, and artistry for athletes to excel to their fullest potential. A critical component to any skater’s success is nutrition, which can make or break a skater’s ability to perform at their best.

Every skater’s nutritional needs are unique to their circumstances. The “best” nutrition for an athlete depends on factors such as body composition, training routines, and athletic goals. It’s also completely normal for these needs to change over the years, or even between sports seasons!

What Is the Best Nutrition for a Figure Skater?

Nutritional requirements among skaters will vary based on a variety of individual factors, but there are a few generalized guidelines to keep in mind in order to maintain healthy, fueled bodies. With the right nutritional plan, powering through lengthy training sessions and routines will seem like a breeze!

A few factors that may impact the best figure skating nutritional plan for you are listed below.

  • Age
  • Body composition
  • Metabolism
  • Allergies or dietary requirements
  • Daily activity level

This isn’t a comprehensive list, but it’s a good starting point! Regardless of your individual needs, a figure skater’s everyday eating habits should include plenty of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, fiber, and calcium. 

Benefits of Well-Balanced Nutrition for Figure Skating:

  • Protein: Helps build muscle tone and aids in muscle recovery. Protein-rich foods like lean meats, beans, and nuts are great choices for skaters.
  • Carbohydrates: Provide your body with the fuel needed to power through training days and intense routines. Opt for complex carbohydrates found in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables for sustained energy.
  • Healthy Fats: Important for long-lasting energy and overall health. Avocados, nuts, and fish are excellent sources of healthy fats.
  • Calcium: Essential for strong, healthy bones. Dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified plant-based milks are good sources of calcium.
  • Fiber: Helps you feel fuller for longer and aids digestion. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are rich in fiber.

Good nutrition and proper hydration increase energy levels, prevent muscle fatigue, ensure proper growth, and decrease a skater’s risk of injury. Developing a healthy figure skating nutritional plan is just as important as developing a proper training routine!

Figure Skater Nutritional Plan: Recovery Nutrition

The meals of a figure skater will often change depending on their individual circumstances, and it’s essential to tailor your nutrition to your specific needs. When a skater is engaged in intense training, the focus should be on recovery nutrition. Recovery nutrition helps to fuel yourself during training, assist your body in recovery after intense activities, and prepare it for your next session.

Without proper nutrition, the intense training a figure skater endures can take a toll on their bodies. Dehydration, inflammation, tissue damage, and depleted carbohydrate reserves are all indicative of unmet nutritional needs for an athlete.

One way to ensure your body is properly fueled is to follow the four R’s of recovery nutrition:

Rehydrate: Drink plenty of water and electrolyte-replenishing drinks like coconut water.

Replenish: Restore your energy stores by eating carbohydrate-rich foods, such as whole grains and fruits.

Repair: Help your muscles recover with high-quality protein sources like fish, lean meats, or nuts.

Reinforce: Keep your immune system in top shape by consuming healthy, balanced foods rich in vitamins and minerals.

Focusing on recovery nutrition helps your body recover faster, can reduce fatigue, and may lower your risk of injuries. Here are a few tips to help you integrate recovery nutrition into your training routine:

  • Eat a recovery snack within 30 minutes after training: Cereal with whole milk, a banana with peanut butter, or trail mix are great choices.
  • Aim for a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein in your recovery snacks: For example, if your snack has 200-300 calories, 10-15 grams should be protein, and 40-50 grams should be carbohydrates.
  • Choose small meals or snacks every 2-3 hours: This promotes recovery and reduces muscle breakdown.
  • Include protein in your recovery snacks: Protein helps repair and build muscle tissue.
  • Opt for low-fat snacks: While healthy fats are beneficial, low-fat snacks encourage faster absorption of carbohydrates.

What Should I Eat On Competition Days?

It’s understandable to get nervous on big days. Skaters often find themselves too excited or too nervous to eat properly on competition days, but these times are especially important to maintain proper nutrition. The best figure skater nutritional plan for competition days involves staying hydrated, fueling your body with carbs, and protecting your muscles with high-quality protein.

On training days, it is recommended to avoid heavy meals, spicy dishes, and unfamiliar foods, as these can interfere with digestion and may negatively impact your performance.

Instead, around four hours before your competition, fuel your body with a meal that’s rich in carbs, fiber, healthy fats, and protein. Whole grain pasta with lean meat, a chicken and vegetable stir-fry, or a quinoa salad with mixed veggies and nuts are excellent choices.

Two to three hours before your performance, you might want a snack to ensure your body has plenty of power to avoid feeling hungry when you get on the ice. Snacks like yogurt with fruit, a peanut butter and banana sandwich, or a small smoothie are great options. These will help maintain your energy levels without weighing you down.

An hour before you get on the ice, you can give your body one last burst of energy with fruits or veggies that have a high water content, such as oranges, watermelon, or asparagus. You may also drink an electrolyte-rich sports drink. This final boost will help keep your energy levels high, and ensure you’re hydrated.

Professional Figure Skater Nutritional Plan

Aspiring professional skaters often look to athletes at the Olympic level to model their routines and nutritional needs. This isn’t a bad idea, especially when you need inspiration for your training and routines, but it’s helpful to remember that the nutritional needs of a figure skater will always be highly individualized. 

As an example, we’ll take a look at the eating habits of the prominent figure skater Ashley Wagner. She has a World Silver Medal, Olympic Bronze Medal, and five Grand Prix medals in her career, and has been very vocal about the important role nutrition has played in her success. 

According to an interview with Women’s Health, here’s what an average day of nutrition looks like for her:

Breakfast: A cup of green tea and a waffle topped with peanut butter and honey.

Morning Snack: A smoothie filled with coconut water, spinach, kale, mixed berries, and half a banana.

Lunch: A salad made with mixed greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, light feta cheese, and balsamic vinegar dressing topped with a grilled chicken breast.

Afternoon Snack: A handful of baby carrots and a bell pepper with hummus, along with oranges or a pear.

Dinner: Often, a mixed greens bowl with protein, such as salmon, chicken, or red meat.

Wagner has spoken about enjoying well-balanced and healthy meals, such as grilled chicken breast, wild rice, and vegetables. It provides her with the right balance of protein, carbs, and healthy fats, so she has plenty of fuel for training!

Fuel Your Performances with Riedell

Along with proper nutrition, skaters can fuel their performances by ensuring they have the right equipment. Using high-quality, perfectly fitting skates can make all the difference out on the ice. Find your ideal custom skate to help you power through those long days of training and competing!