Olympic Gymnast’s- RDG Diet to Lose Weight

With the Rio Olympics 2016 in full swing, and Dipa Karmakar an Indian artistic gymnast from Agartala, who will be the first Indian gymnast to qualify for the Olympics in 52 years, let’s look at some of the diets that the gymnasts eat. For an interesting contrast, would be the difference between an Olympic Weight Lifter who fuels their body with 3000-8000 Calories a day and the average Olympic Gymnast who keep holding on to their dietary regime which strictly believes in curbing their pounds.

An NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association-USA) survey showed 51% of gymnastic clubs admitted their club members suffer from eating disorders. The concern is that the actual numbers of young gymnasts who struggle with excessive dieting, anorexia and bulimia may be as high as 62%.

You may ask why?
Gymnastics is a judged sport. In many other athletic events, the first person to cross the finish line wins. In gymnastics, it is the person who achieves the highest score that succeeds. Given the fact that certain aspects of judging can be subjective, appearance is important. The pressure for physical perfection is enormous.

Olympic Gymnast Nutrition:

Energy Expended: 500 Calories per hour

Dietary Ratio: Suggested Balanced Diet- 25% Fat, 25 % Protein and 50% Carbohydrate

Actual Diet Consumed: Low Cal or Low Carb

Female Caloric Range: 350- 1250 Calories

Meal Timing: Very light before competition (5 times a day)

The average gymnast, both male and female, eat several times a day, all in small quantities:

  • Egg whites for breakfast
  • A small piece of chicken for lunch
  • Small snacks of cheese and vegetables in between meals and
  • Maybe some fish and fruits for dinner

Event Day Breakfast: A 300 Calorie fruit shake with protein powder

One nutrient that is critical for bone growth and strength is Calcium. Most vitamin-mineral supplements do not provide 100% of the needed Calcium, so a Calcium supplement would be a good choice for gymnasts. Gymnasts’ average Calcium intake is as low as 600 milligrams a day- well below the 1300 milligrams needed for strong bones. Calcium can help to prevent stress fractures- a common occurrence in gymnasts.

In gymnastics, strict ‘Low Carb’ diets are also popular because unlike swimming or long-distance running, gymnastics is considered an “anaerobic” sport; one in which short, intense bursts of power are much more important than endurance.

The Russian Gymnast Diet (RGD):

The Russian Gymnast Diet aka RGD is very dangerous. This diet was created by Russian Olympic Gymnast Irina Tschachina to fit the desired body style of the Olympic competition. At a height of 5’6”, Irina was seen as too large, so she corrected her ‘form’ by dropping her weight to 99lbs. Irina went on to win a silver medal and forever cemented the idea that this diet can help a young female gymnast succeed.

  • The RGD diet basically consists of a breakfast of a glass of fruit juice or a slice of calorie-reduced bread and a large cup of black coffee, a lunch of fruit salad or a medium apple and a dinner of 8 baby carrots or an apple. Non-carbonated drinks with no calories can be had without limits. The gymnasts who use this diet lose 5-11 lbs. in one week.

RGD is dangerous because without fat the brain cannot function correctly and the body cannot manufacture hormones. The diet is also void of protein. Protein builds muscle and helps the body avoid injury, but it is also a critical component for liver detoxification!


It is sad that society can’t accept that young girl’s bodies turn into women. They say that hips and breasts can’t make it around the uneven bars or the vault with as much grace.  It mirrors the belief that women with curves don’t look good modeling clothes on the runway or in a fashion magazine because the fabric cannot fall the way it does on the rack.