Background: : In the context of high performance sports, the eating behavior of athletes can be affected by several factors: culture, family, media, coach, demand for better results,
strict weight control, and the sport discipline’s characteristics. Athletes in sports, which overvalue aesthetics and low body weight have a higher incidence of risky eating behavior, as well as
eating disorders. Due to the lack of research analyzing the sport environment and the food intake of male gymnasts, the aim of this study was to identify the impact of the sport environment on food
choices of male Olympic gymnastics athletes.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study with intentional sampling four adult male Olympic gymnastics athletes of the city of Santos, were interviewed using a qualitative narrative
approach. Data obtained from the interviews were analyzed through the Content Analysis method.
Results: The results suggest two main thematic nuclei composed of thematic categories. The thematic nucleus denominated “training and competitions” is characterized by self-rules,
external control, sacrifices and concern with body image and aesthetics, while the thematic nucleus “weekends, post-competition and vacations” is characterized by food reward and food choices without
Conclusions: Our findings indicate that athletes’ food choices in the competitive period are devoid of pleasure and guided by their concern with body image and the strict weight
control exercised by themselves and by the coach. On the other hand, when these gymnasts are not under the control of the competitive context, as it happens in the periods of post-competition,
weekends and vacations, with decreased training load, food choices are associated to pleasure, without controlling rules and the food is considered as a reward. In both situations, male Olympic
gymnastics athletes show vulnerability to inadequate and unhealthy food choices.