Two-time Olympic gymnast Kristian Thomas knows all about the ups and downs of elite sport.
Having won a bronze medal in the men’s team event at London 2012, he shouldered greater expectations in the build up to this year’s Rio 2016 Olympic Games, where the team finished in an agonising fourth place behind Japan, the USA and China.
Fanatics of the art of gymnastics or not, the couch spectators of the Games will have shared an overwhelming feeling of awe when watching the muscle-clad athletes delivering routines that the average person could only dream of copying.
Making the toughest of sports look elegant and effortless does not come easy, however, and Thomas admits juggling his training and his diet is a vital balancing act that all elite gymnasts face.
“We know that as athletes we want to do whatever we can to be at competitions in the best possible shape,” said the seven-time European medallist.
“I suppose as an athlete you find that you tend to buy more protein based foods so chicken, fish, red meat and eggs. We try and eat these things because our body requires them for recovery and to maintain muscle.
“For breakfast I have more than two eggs scrambled on a wholemeal bagel so obviously I get through quite a few.
“I always try to drink milk throughout the day, whether it is with whey protein or breakfast, it keeps the body topped up with calcium and everything else that comes with it.
“I always seem to be running out of milk because I have a glass with every meal.”
Thomas, who is undertaking a degree in Strength and Conditioning at the University of Wolverhampton, has competed internationally for more than ten years now, after first appearing England at a Commonwealth Games in 2006, and admits that he must take more care with diet as he gets older.
He said: “I eat fish twice a week, usually salmon just because of personal taste. It helps with Omega-3’s and my joints especially being an older gymnast now.
“Every meal includes some salad. I try and pack it with loads of fruit and vegetables just to keep the nutrients as high as I possibly can. Broccoli is probably my favourite which is good because it’s cheap.”
And although the amount of training required can allow gymnasts like Thomas to enjoy their food and be more flexible with their diets, the 27-year-old likes to stick to the same products during the competitive season.
“Generally it’s a high protein diet with good carbohydrate energy sources like brown rice, brown pasta, noodles, jacket potato, sweet potato and it’s good to pack it in with loads of veg.”