Kellie Gibson is no stranger to elite sport.
She started her career as a sprinter before turning focus to Rugby 7s, where she was part of Australia’s 2014 Summer Youth Olympics gold medal-winning team.
When the NAB AFLW competition was launched, Gibson signed with Adelaide before returning to Western Australia to play for Fremantle in 2018 and then joining West Coast – the team she supported as a child – for its inaugural season.
The talented forward has had a career most would envy, but at just 23, Gibson is just getting started.
And she admits that, now in her fourth AFLW season, she’s only started to truly appreciate the role nutrition plays in her performance.
“This is my fourth season in the AFLW and at the beginning I never really ate too much before a game,” Gibson tells womens.afl.
“I wasn’t aware of how to fuel my body properly or I didn’t understand importance of a good diet to assist me at the highest level.
“Now that I have had experience in AFLW I have a set routine which I like to follow, and I understand what suits me to fuel my body during a game.”
Gibson’s pre-match preparation starts more than 24 hours before the bounce, with a focus on ensuring she has the energy to perform at her best.
“The day before the game, I make sure I carb load in all main meals so my body can hold onto as much as possible,” she says.
“The day of the game I enjoy a pasta meal for lunch with electrolytes and water.
“I find it hard to eat solid foods before the game, but I just take my time or distract myself.
“Once I have had a big meal, I snack on smaller foods so I’m constantly giving myself energy in preparation of the game.
After the siren, it’s all about recovery.
“After the game it is important to refuel and replace everything lost during the game,” she says.
“As soon as I get into the change rooms, I grab a drink and a burger supplied by the club.
“I find it very hard to eat such a big meal after playing footy, it something I am working on!”
When she isn’t training, Gibson balances study with work, not leaving much time to spend in the kitchen.
It means she has built a repertoire of recipes that provide her with the nutritional value she needs in less than 30 minutes.
“During the AFLW season it can be really hard to prepare meals on the go, so I find being organised with fresh food in the fridge makes things so much easier,” she says.
“I tend to go for meals that are cooked within 30 minutes - I’m impatient when I’m hungry!
“At West Coast we are provided dinner three times a week which helps us stay organised during the week, those meals typically tick off protein, carbs and greens.”
“My go-to easy meal of the week would be spag bol.”
She likes to mix it up in her diet, but one thing Gibson won’t be found without is her water bottle.
So much so, it’s become a joke between her friends.
“Perth can be such a dry heat so it can be really tough conditions to train in, we are constantly being reminded to stay hydrated when we are away from the footy club,” she says.
“I carry my water bottle with me everywhere, my friends make fun of me because it is such a constant in my day-to-day routine.
“Jokes aside, I take my hydration and diet very seriously.
“AFLW is such a high intensity game which is played in the peak of summer, so things can get pretty heated.
“Sports drinks and hydrolytes are also super important to maintain during the week leading into training and games, these keep up our electrolytes and it’s another way of taking in carbohydrates which again supplies our bodies with fuel.”
Kellie’s Spaghetti Bolognese
Carb load like Kellie and try her go-to spag bol.