Athlete and Sports Dietitian Practices and Lives What She Preaches

Athlete and Sports Dietitian Practices and Lives What She Preaches

Sandy, Utah native Heidi Strickler was planning to major in Physical Therapy when she went to Seattle Pacific University on a soccer scholarship, but she took her first nutrition class her freshman year and found her calling.

“I kind of knew from the get-go that sports nutrition was my No. 1 focus,” says Strickler, who graduated in 2012 with a double major in Dietetics and Nutrition In Sports & Exercise and a minor in Exercise Science. “Being a competitive athlete, I got to see firsthand how what I ate affected how I felt when I was playing.”  “It was a great leaning process – I honed a lot of irreplaceable skills, but I knew it wasn’t where I wanted to be ultimately,” she says. “One of the things that intrigued me most is the versatility of being a dietitian.

seattle-logoYou can work anywhere. Our society is really starting to value the idea of preventative health. There are so many venues you can plug yourself into,” including professional, college, or high school sports teams; teaching; corporate wellness; food service; culinary work; or hospitals, among other things. “I love education, and I love being an educator.”  The move also expanded her interest in the culinary side of nutrition.

The Culinary Side of Nutrition

“It fostered a love in me for cooking, I’m a total foodie” she says. “Growing up, I didn’t do a lot of it. That has been something I’ve really enjoyed as a side piece – delving into the food chemistry, the culinary side of things, and being able to hone in more of that with my nutrition counseling. I love teaching clients how to turn whole, raw foods into something delicious on their kitchen table … connecting the dots from seed to plate”

Strickler also became a serious Cross Country/Track & Field runner her Junior year at SPU after transitioning from soccer. She “ran away” with this newfound passion for the duration of her college career, and carried it into her post-college years, competing as a high-level trail runner in Utah and Washington. After graduation, she completed the year-long Dietetic Internship at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Ill., then spent 3 months at home in Salt Lake City playing in the mountains before returning to Seattle for potential work. Her first job was in an eating disorder and mental health recovery clinic.

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Strickler went to work for Experience Momentum Inc. in January 2015, about the same time she started a two-year online program through the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to earn a sports nutrition diploma. At Experience Momentum, she teaches fitness classes and works with individual clients, from 17-year-old high school athletes to 71-year-old triathletes, including professionals, Olympic competitors, recreational runners, and those who want to lose weight, manage diabetes, and overcome eating disorders or cancer. She also holds monthly seminars and leads grocery store tours for clients and others on a weekly basis.

Active & Healthy Living

“At Experience Momentum, I’m constantly submerged in an environment conducive to active, healthy living; I am surrounded by co-workers who are stoked on life, training hard, being passionate about their clients’ health and their own,” says Strickler, who takes advantage of the classes and facilities before and after work and at lunchtime.

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Her career at Experience Momentum has also led her to compete in triathalons, “Being an endurance junkie, it was bound to happen. I am training with 3 coworkers now for Victoria 70.3.”

Last year, Strickler was directing Experience Momentum’s sponsored multisport team when she asked coworkers to recommend products that would benefit the group. One co-worker introduced her to The Right Stuff, which he had used with athletes in the past and uses personally to head off illness at the first sign of trouble.right-stuff

“I absolutely love it,” she says. “I use it mostly for recovery after a long run or ride, to optimize that rehydration afterwards. If you drink just water after a long event, your body is not going to absorb what it needs and you’re going to end up peeing out most of the fluid. The Right Stuff really helps with my hydration and maintains that electrolyte balance.” Picking up her coworker’s habit, any time she starts feeling sick, she drinks a glass of The Right Stuff with extra vitamin C powder. “It kicks it in the butt,” she says.

I absolutely love it (The Right Stuff), especially for recovery

Strickler has also shared the product with clients, including an IronMan triathlete who suffered high sweat losses and severe cramping while training for Kona (World Championship) last summer until he tried The Right Stuff.

“I’ve seen it work for my clients as well as enjoying it myself,” she says. “As an athlete and a Dietitian, I get to practice and live what I preach, and see it unfold in my life and in others’ lives. It’s pretty cool.”

A Different Perspective for Athletes to Consider: Don’t Ice for Recovery

A Different Perspective for Athletes to Consider: Don’t Ice for Recovery

gary-reinlDistance runner Gary Reinl’s meticulous reporting destroyed the long-held practice of rest and ice for healing injuries, restoring the natural course of healing by the inflammatory response assisted by muscle activation – the intuitive “walk it off” order of coaches in his childhood. His insistence on scientific evidence also makes him a user and advocate of The Right Stuff hydration formula developed by NASA.

Reinl, 63, who started running in the 1960s on water and sometimes salt tablets, remembers a nearly 70-mile run from Philadelphia to Ocean City, N.J., in the summer of 1971 wearing Converse sneakers and sipping water from front-yard hoses on the route.

“Everything we did was wrong,” he says. “I’ve done it wrong, and I’ve done it right, and I’m certain that doing it right is way better.”

icedWhen it comes to treating injuries, doing it right is the opposite of conventional wisdom that held sway for decades under the popular acronym RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Reinl’s relentless research found support for the approach, and Dr. Gabe Mirkin, who coined the term in 1978, recanted in the foreword to Reinl’s 2014 book Iced! The Illusionary Treatment Option.

Shifting the Conversation

“We have begun to shift the conversation. We’re shifting it to muscle activation to solve the problem,” says Reinl, who represents an electro-muscle stimulation device, MARC PRO® (Muscle Activated Recovery Cascade), that promotes muscle activation. “Why would you put ice on damaged tissue? People believe it reduces swelling. It doesn’t reduce swelling. It actually increases swelling. Your immune system knows how to handle it. That’s why it sends fluid to the damaged area. Why would you try to reduce the amount of fluid sent to the damaged site?”

Ice slows the natural repair process by shutting off signals between muscles and nerves. Inflammation is a necessary part of the healing process as the body rushes blood and nutrients to the area, and muscle activation helps flush out the extra fluids through the lymphatic system. “The last thing you’d want to do is restrict swelling coming to the area,” Reinl says. “You do want the fluid to come. What you don’t want it to do is accumulate and settle.”

In fact, the delay caused by icing can suffocate healthy cells that would not have died as a result of the injury, a secondary cellular death that Reinl calls “negligent homicide.”

Reinl traced the origins of the “Ice Age” to 1962, when a physician successfully reattached the arm, preserved on ice, of a 12-year-old who was injured while jumping a train in Massachusetts. The story became a sensation, and people mistakenly associated ice with healing. “The intent of putting the severed body arm on ice was to preserve the severed body part,” he explains. “It had nothing to do with damaged tissue; it had to do with managing a severed body part.”

The RICE Approach

riceAfter Mirkin published his RICE approach in 1978, soccer moms everywhere kept nifty snap-and-chill ice packs in their pocketbooks. Athletic trainers, who became common on sports teams in the 1980s, could not perform medical procedures but could legally apply ice. Even after Medicare, recognizing the lack of evidence, stopped reimbursing for ice treatments in physical therapy clinics, the practice thrived in sports.

Reinl has worked with athletic trainers and physical therapists from more than 80 professional teams and other elite athletes who have stopped or reduced their use of ice, although some star athletes still insist on the old approach.

These days, Reinl, whose lifetime running total is above 50,000 miles, lives in the Las Vegas desert and routinely runs 10 miles through a canyon where temperatures can exceed 113 degrees. He preps with a pre-run dose of The Right Stuff and takes another packet for each hour on the road when he returns, ensuring that his body chemistry remains optimal for tissue regeneration and recovery.

“You know how good you feel from it,” he says, adding that his son, a lawyer, rejects all otherright-stuff supplements but adopts The Right Stuff regimen. “I can go out and run 20 in the desert and I’m perfectly fine. I carry a couple of gallons of water with me. I stay fully hydrated on my runs.”

He recommends The Right Stuff to runners, endurance athletes, military personnel, and even golfers who spend long hours in the hot sun. You can check out the science behind The Right Stuff.        [Editors Note: links to NASA studies can be found on the brand’s website at http://tiny.cc/TheRightStuffStudies]

“Any elites I talk to, I say just look around and look at how people are trying to solve the problem,” Reinl says. “Look at the science behind The Right Stuff.  It improves muscle function. It improves your physiology. It improves muscle activation. It feels good. Every edge counts.”

 

Word-Record Holder, Ultra-Distance Runner Shares His Story

Word-Record Holder, Ultra-Distance Runner Shares His Story

Valmir Nunes Graveyard 100 croppedValmir Nunes has been running ultra-distance races [Editor Note: Ultra-distance races are longer than 26-mile marathons, typically 50-100 miles and longer] for nearly half his life, starting at age 26 after battling back from a debilitating disease when he was 18. The globetrotting Brazilian has won races from the United States to The Netherlands to Greece. He has set world records and still holds the South American and Brazilian Ultramarathon records, as well as the record in the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon in Death Valley.

“I became interested in running when I was 16 years old,” Nunes says “My first experience was a 100-meter race and another 1,500-meter race in school. What attracted me to running ultras was that I always liked exercising. I never really got tired from running; it was never too much. Running ultras gave me the opportunity of running for long period of times. I like being a professional runner because I have been all over the planet and I have friends from all different parts of the world. I have been through many things in my life, but my passion for running has helped me overcome all the obstacles.”

…my passion for running has made me overcome all the obstacles

Valmir Nunes badwater_2007Nunes won the 1991 world championship in the 100-kilometer race in Italy and the USA National 100 Kilometer Championship. In 1995 in The Netherlands, he set a world record in the race that stood until 1998. Nunes won the 153-mile Spartathlon in Greece [Editor Note: this race takes a similar path to the one Pheidippedes ran when seeking help during the Battle of Marathon] in 2001 and the Badwater 135 (217 Km) from Death Valley up Mt. Whitney in 2007, in 114° heat in his time of 22 hours 51 minutes 29 seconds, the first time the race had been completed in less than 24 hours. More recently, he won the 170.1-mile (274 Km) 24 Hours in Taiwan and the 24 Hours in Croatan in Croatan National Forest in North Carolina.

“The first time I ever saw The Right Stuff TRS_LOGO_2015_BACKGROUNDwas in a running packet I received in a race in the United States,” Nunes says. “I used it, and I really liked it. The Right Stuff helps me stay hydrated and as a positive consequence it helps me with my resistance – which is very important when running long distances – and lowers my heart rate.”

“What attracted me to start coaching other people was the idea of teaching others what I had learned through my experiences,” he says. “It is very important that runners learn how to pace themselves; how to keep hydrated before, during and after races; how to be mentally prepared to enter a competition; how much to train – and to understand that we all have good and bad times during a competition.”

Nunes, who published a book on ultrarunning in Portugese in 2010, also recommends The Right Stuff to the runners that he coaches.

Ultrarunner/Clinical Nutritionist Offers His Take on High Fat Diet for Endurance Athletes

Ultrarunner/Clinical Nutritionist Offers His Take on High Fat Diet for Endurance Athletes

Carwin LIDr. Carwyn Sharp traces his interest in nutrition to his undergraduate days when he earned a Bachelor of Applied Science in Human Movement Studies at the University of Queensland. He also holds a Master of Science in Kinesiology and Exercise Science from Ball State University and a Ph.D. in Clinical Nutrition/ Nutritionist from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.  He also has 14 years of coaching experience including as the Head Performance Coach at Elite Training 4 Athletes. In addition, he is an accomplished athlete with a marathon PR of 2:46 and is a competitor in ultra-distance running races.

Today, Sharp is Chief Science Officer for the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). NSCA LogoHis interest in nutrition is personal as well as professional.

“I got into endurance sports and more recently have been dabbling in a high-fat diet,” Sharp says. “There are a lot of endurance athletes using high-fat diets. You’re training your body to utilize fat.” This approach avoids the problem of carbohydrate-dependency for athletes whose workouts or events, such as marathons or Iron Mans that last three or more hours and require replenishing of the carbohydrates.

“If you’re dependent on a high-carb diet, which most athletes are, you can have a problem,” Sharp says. “You’ve got enough fat to last for days. It intrigued me. The benefits of the high-fat diet opposed to the high-carb diet are pretty evident.” The downside to high-fats diets, he says, is that it leads the body to excrete sodium at a higher rate than carbohydrate users.

I felt better once I had taken the extra sodium. Since then, I always have it around just in case.

“You need to replace a lot of fluids and a lot of electrolytes,” he says, especially in the high-altitude area like Colorado Springs where I live.

I was looking for a product I could take during longer workouts. When you go out on these long training bouts or race events, having something palatable is very helpful. A lot of times when you’re running, you don’t have access to soup along the way. You want something tasty as opposed to water and tablets. For me, I was having some GI problems. I have a fairly sensitive stomach. You want something in liquid form.”

Sharp met David Belaga of The Right Stuff at an NSCA conference and tried the product during the 2013 Leadville Trail 100 (mile) race in Colorado.Leadville Series

“I was really dehydrated,” Sharp recalls. “I felt better once I had taken The Right Stuff. Since then, I always have it around just in case. I recommend it to athletes. I recommend it to anybody who’s interested in trying a higher-fat diet. It certainly something worth trying. One of the keys is that it is a no-calorie product. I think some people consume too many calories.”

[Editor’s Note: The Right Stuff® is NSF Certified for SportCertified for Sport Mark_Blue 633KB which means every batch is tested and cleared not to contain any banned substances, heavy metals or any other adulterants; learn more: http://nsfsport.com/listings/certified_products_results.asp ]

Improving Nutrition Habits for High School, Collegiate and Professional Athletes

Improving Nutrition Habits for High School, Collegiate and Professional Athletes

Tavis PTavis Piattoly, who played football and other sports in high school, dropped 50 pounds in the summer after he graduated, before he enrolled in Louisiana State University as a pre-med student. Now he offers High School and other athletes the expert nutrition he wishes he would have known as a 17-year-old who got used to fast food before practice and Chinese buffet afterwards.

“I wish I’d had the knowledge then that I have now,” Piattoly says. “I wouldn’t have made such bad decisions. There was no one there to tell us.”

NO Saints croppedPiattoly switched his major to dietetics with an emphasis on sports nutrition and achieved his goal of working with the New Orleans Saints, for seven years. He’s worked 12 years with Tulane University and now operates his own My Sports Dietitian (www.mysportsd.com), an online education and software platform for athletes, parents, coaches, athletic trainers, and coaches that offers phone apps for tracking nutrition, one-on-one counseling for athletes, and a mentorship program for young sports nutrition students and practitioners.

Logo Tulane croppedSince he started at Tulane in 2003, Piattoly has seen rapid growth in staff Sports Dietitians in Division 1 schools, now totaling about 75. He believes the focus is spreading to the 8 million high school athletes and their parents who are seeking safer and more effective performance.

Focus on When and What You Eat

“You can change behavior more with a 14-year-old than a 28-year-old,” says Piattoly, who starts with a focus on when the athlete eats and then focuses on what they eat. “Now we know nutrition can give athletes a performance advantage if they time their intake correctly. High school athletes are underfueling their bodies to support their activity. Nutrition can make a good athlete great – or a great athlete good.”

Athletes who train five hours a day, maybe in two different sports, should eat about every three hours, he says. When Piattoly advises an athlete, he starts with a three-day food log to be sure they’re not energy-deprived – then starts replacing the breakfast doughnuts or toaster pastries with shakes, eggs, and oatmeal.

It all starts with timing. That’s the first nutritional strategy I employ.

“It all starts with timing,” he says. “That’s the first nutritional strategy I employ. If we can fix the ‘when,’ we can fix the ‘what.’ Ninety percent of the kids I work with are highly motivated. They realize nutrition is the piece they’ve been missing all along. Parents are a critical piece, especially Moms. Mom is usually the food provider for the athlete, or sometimes it’s a single dad.”

Piattoly helped a small-framed high school linebacker gain 50 pounds by his senior year and earn a college scholarship. He worked with a high school quarterback to add 20 pounds of lean muscle so he could attract college scouts.

“It’s all about teaching them to get enough calories to support what they’re trying to do,” he says. “It’s the missing component, it’s the secret weapon, it’s the component that leads to success in everything else.”

The food-first approach incorporates supplementation where appropriate, including The Right Stuff for heavy-sweating athletes and those susceptible to cramps. “In the New Orleans area, it’s really humid,” Piattoly says. “We use The Right Stuff with a lot of our athletes that are heavy sweaters. It’s good for any athlete. We get a lot of sodium in our diet, but when we sweat it out at accelerated rates, we need to replenish it. Our body needs it.”

Interest in nutrition is expanding to younger ages because it both helps prevent injury and enhances performance. “We’re going to see this field continue to expand throughout the collegiate level, high school, club teams,” Piattoly says. “It’s going to trickle down, just like athletic trainers did in the past”

“Rocket fuel” Propels 21-Year-Old Pro Triathlete

“Rocket fuel” Propels 21-Year-Old Pro Triathlete

William-Huffman-cropped-6-15William Huffman’s triathlete career dates back to his childhood days when he would ride his mountain bike alongside his father on recreational runs. They ran their first 5K together when William was 10.

Dreaming of the Olympics

“At that point, I knew I wanted to be a runner,” says Huffman, who joined the cross-country team in middle school, then took up competitive swimming to stay in shape after an injury in high school. “I stuck with those two sports. I had two of the three down for triathlon. All that while, I always dreamed of the Olympics but knew it was pretty unrealistic until I did my first triathlon. I didn’t know until after my second triathlon that it was even an Olympic sport. Once I found that out, I knew I had to give my dream a chance. I earned my pro card during my second triathlon in 2010 and have been racing professionally pretty much since then.”

Huffman, 21, is now ranked in the top 80 triathletes in the world and the top six or seven in the United States. He was champion in the Under-23 Nationals in 2013 and 2014, champion in the Under-23 Pan America, and bronze in the Elite Nationals. Since late 2011, he has been coached by Greg Mueller, based in South Bend, Ind. He met Mueller at an Olympic training center camp and sought him out a year later, when he decided to get a new coach after a year with Dallas-based coach Sean Thompson set him on track for a career.

Triathlon Lifestyle

“I knew pretty quickly after reaching out to him that it was a good match,” Huffman says. “Personal connection is a huge part of a coaching relationship. Greg is great at checking in to see how I do and reading what’s best for my body day to day. I wake up and check in with him, and he tells me what the plan is. You have to embrace the lifestyle that comes with triathlons. I say I’m from Dallas, but in reality, I’m out of the suitcase most of the time.”

He’s spending the summer in South Bend, after a winter training camp in Nevada. Mueller chooses practice locations tailored to the environment of upcoming races – Texas, for example, when the competition is in a hot climate. Huffman is aiming for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, but he expects he has a more realistic shot at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

“I’ve come a long way in the past five years I’ve been doing the sport,” he says. “I still have a long way to go. The Olympics is really the pinnacle of the sport. You have to be the very best to compete on that stage. That’s my goal and that’s what I’m shooting for. I’m not quite at that point, but that’s what gets me up every morning and motivates me to be my best. Most people don’t peak until their later 20s in this sport. I have plenty of years ahead of me.”

Huffman struggled with hot-weather races until a running specialist in Boulder, Colo., recommended The Right Stuff® (NASA-developed electrolyte drink additive) in 2012. He introduced it to Mueller, who has shared it with other athletes.

I was amazed at the technology behind it (The Right Stuff) and the science.

“I could not get hot weather races down,” he says. “I’d get tunnel vision, I’d get dizzy, I’d be really slow in those races, especially the longer they went on as I got into the run. They just never went well. kiwi_strawberryI was amazed at the technology behind it and the science (Editor’s Note: Summaries and links to numerous NASA-published studies are available at www.TheRightStuff-USA.com) . Since then, hot weather races are my favorite ones to target. I just feel a phenomenal difference in endurance and strength in hot weather.

“I’ll use the product the night before and 3 hours before with water. If I do that adequately, I’m set for the race; I’m good to go. I just have some water, and I don’t even need that much of that. I don’t end up as thirsty during the race. I don’t get as hot. I have better thermal regulation. I feel stronger. I can breathe more easily. It’s just incredible the difference I feel. It’s like rocket fuel.

National Champion High Jumper Set the Bar High!

National Champion High Jumper Set the Bar High!

Dusty Jonas USA over barNearly two decades ago, when Dusty Jonas was in grade school in Texas, he tried a variety of sports through CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) before he focused on the high jump in track.

“I started pretty young playing a lot of different sports,” he says. I had my first track meet, which down there we did it through CYO. I did soccer, basketball, track. At that age, 9 or 10, I wasn’t particularly good at any of them but I wasn’t bad either. I dropped soccer – too much running for me. I’ve been high jumping since then. I didn’t really get to an elite level until high school,” where he improved nearly a foot – from 6 feet 2 inches to 7 feet 1 inch – between his sophomore and junior years.Nebraska Cornhuskers

Jonas won a national championship with the University of Nebraska and made the U.S. Olympic Team as a high jumper in 2008 (Beijing) but sat out 2102 with an Achilles tendon injury. Now he is aiming for a spot on the U.S. 2016 Olympics.

Aiming for the U.S. 2016 Olympics

“They say the prime age for a high jumper is 28 to 30,” Jonas says. “I’m right in that right now. I feel good. I’m starting to really feel confident in what I’m able to do. Strength levels are good.”

Jonas has volunteered as a track coach at the University of Nebraska for the past five years, drawing on his own experience to help others as he adopts a final-year training regimen for his own Olympic hopes.

Dusty Jonas going over the bar“I started as a long and triple jump coach,” he says, “I did high jump, long jump, and triple jump in college. I really enjoy the vertical jumps as well. As a developing coach that really wants to learn, you want to have a broad knowledge of all the events. This year I’m working with my high jumpers and working with the men’s short sprints and hurdles. We’ve got a really good squad.”

A nutritionist at the University of Nebraska introduced Jonas to The Right Stuff early in 2014.

I get less muscle soreness and I feel a lot better hydrated during my workouts

“I got my hands on it from being around here,” he says. “I notice that during my training, especially days when I am running, days when it is hot, I get less muscle soreness I feel a lot better hydrated during my workouts.”

Jonas has already jumped 7 feet 8.5 inches this year, close to a personal best and a sign of successful rehab after his injury.

“I’ve jumped the highest I have since 2008,” he says. “This year will be the third year of my four-year cycle. The intensity is going to ramp up a little bit. I’ll start fine-tuning some things. It’s back on the up-and-up. I think I’ve got some good years left in me. And, The Right Stuff is unique in the way it really helps me to meet my hydration needs

Competing and Continuing Education Drive the University of Nebraska Sports Nutrition Director

Competing and Continuing Education Drive the University of Nebraska Sports Nutrition Director

Lindsey Remmers was playing volleyball and majoring in nutrition at Winthrop University when she Lindsey Remmers Nebraskaasked a professor about career possibilities that combine sports and nutrition. “I asked him about jobs, and he said there’s nothing, really,” she recalls. Today, Remmers is Director of Sports Nutrition at the University of Nebraska.Nebraska

“I didn’t know it existed until I went online and randomly looked to see if Nebraska had a dietitian, and they did,” she said, adding that about a dozen schools had such positions in 2005 and more than 70 have them now. “It’s grown a lot.”

Remmers, who was a volunteer assistant responsible for meals and travel for the team in her fifth year at Winthrop, worked for James Harris at Nebraska, where he taught her the science of hydration and the role of nutrition in athletes’ recovery. Her job includes answering questions and giving brief talks at workouts, organizing meals for home and away games, providing one-on-one advice, leading a freshman orientation on sports nutrition, giving grocery store tours, and administrative tasks.

Although players miss their pizza and French fries, she says, they appreciate the positive impact on their performance. “It’s all for good – to make them leaner, stronger, faster,” Remmers says. “That’s the motivation for them – to become a better athlete. You’re going to get out what you put in. That goes for training and eating.”

Remmers maintains her own health by running, completing Tough Mudder obstacle races and preparing for a marathon. “I like to stay active,” she says. “When you have a race or competition, it gives you something to train for. It gives me a reason to exercise.” kiwi-packet-group2

She uses The Right Stuff to maintain her own hydration and encourages athletes to use it too.
I never do a long run without it and I find that I don’t have to drink as much water.

 

“The Right Stuff allows athletes go harder, longer,” she says. “When you’re dehydrated and fatigued, you’re at high risk for injury. I never do a long run without it and I find that I don’t have to drink as much water.”

Remmers hopes the Sports Dietitian field grows to provide a staff dietitian for every 100 athletes to provide more individualized programs. “There’s going to be a lot more specialized sports nutrition,” she says. “There’s all kinds of science coming out.”

Remmers has already seen dramatic changes in sports nutrition awareness since her college days. “We were starving during practice,” she says, recalling pleas to the coach for snacks. “You don’t think about bringing stuff and there was nothing there available. Now at Nebraska, we have fueling stations where they can grab a snack before practice if they need it.”

 

2010 and 2012 NCAA Football Champion University of Alabama: Nutrition is Critical to Athlete Success!

2010 and 2012 NCAA Football Champion University of Alabama: Nutrition is Critical to Athlete Success!

Amy BraggAmy Bragg was the eighth full-time college sports dietitian in the entire US when she was hired at Texas A&M in 2004, a position created when the Athletic Director came from the pioneer athletic-nutrition focused University of Nebraska. As the profession has mushroomed in the past decade, Bragg, who moved to the University of Alabama Alabama Univ ofin 2010 (Editors Note: In 2011 & 2012 Alabama was the College Football Champion), hopes to see nutrition awareness expand into other fields.

Nutrition is a big, broad concept, beyond sports nutrition,” she says. “It affects every person. It’s something I would like to see grow.”

Bragg credits her interest to a nutrition and foods course she took as a high school senior, taught by a dietitian who was ahead of her time on the subjects of herbs, recipes, and sustainability in the 1990s. “Nobody was really thinking of sustainability in the food supply back then,” Bragg recalls.

Bragg earned a degree in Finance from the University of Texas, where she supported the athletic program as a football hostess, and went on to earn a nutrition and foods degree at the University of Houston. She became a Clinical Dietitian at the Texas Medical Center in Houston in 2001 and also started consulting with athletes about nutrition before she joined Texas A&M. Bragg, one of the founders and past-president of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association (CPSDA), witnessed the early days of the athletic nutrition movement.

Athletic Nutrition Movement

“Back then we were just getting connected, creating a listserv, starting to talk, about a dozen of us networking, going to meetings, running into each other and sharing ideas, how to navigate challenges,” she recalls. “It was slow initially. The growth has really happened, I think, in the last three years. It’s really evolved.”

…when you manage the food supply you get better outcomes, when you manage nutrition rather than just react to it or treat issues medically. You get a much greater benefit for the athletes’ development and their long-term health.

“Those of us who have worked with Athletic Trainers and Strength Coaches for a while have been able to show…when you manage the food supply you get better outcomes, when you manage nutrition rather than just react to it or treat issues medically. You get a much greater benefit for the athletes’ development and their long-term health. It’s an important partnership with the other support staff. Parents and athletes value it. They value nutrition when you talk about it in a recruiting scenario and they value it when they come on campus.”

Athletes often overlook the importance of what they eat for their performance, Bragg says.

“Athletes don’t respond to lectures, and they don’t want to be forced to see a nutritionist,” she says. “They can’t see that they’ll get anything from it because they don’t have a weight problem. It shouldn’t be punitive. For every athlete, it should be about performance, it should be about health. They typically don’t eat well. Getting them to eat better keeps them on the field. You have to get them at the right time. Sometimes it’s when they’re injured. Sometimes they’re doing a rehab and you can affect them more – they’re more responsive. But really it’s for everyone.”

The nutrition plan includes The Right Stuff when needed to protect athletes’ hydration.

“There are occasions and specific athlete needs that require higher sodium intake,” Bragg says. “The Right Stuff is an effective add-on to whatever you’re doing for hydration. In the food plan, for some athletes, The Right Stuff becomes essential for them to perform well throughout an entire game. If you’ve ever had a full-body cramp, you’re responsive to anything that will keep that from happening again.  The Right Stuff is a powerful aid in prevention of cramps. [Editors Note: Studies show the formula also improves core thermoregulation, protecting the body from overheating and increases athletic endurance]

If you’ve ever had a full-body cramp, you’re responsive to anything that will keep that from happening again.

We try to have a full arsenal of things to get athletes through every situation, and The Right Stuff is an important part of that for us.”

Bragg hopes that the athletes’ nutrition education will impact the rest of their lives. “It’s part of their development and their performance and their lifelong health,” she says. “Athletes are going to go on and become parents, and they’re going to develop their children’s nutrition. We’re talking about the big picture.”

To learn more visit www.TheRightStuff-USA.com

Running Races and Winning (Ultra-distances) for Women Over 60

Running Races and Winning (Ultra-distances) for Women Over 60

Linda Quirk wants to see how far she can go to demonstrate the vitality of over-60 women in ultrarunning. Quirk, 62, ran the L.A. Marathon, GOPR0047her first, when she was 35 with no prior experience in 5K or 10K. She was hooked and ran many more marathons including Big Sur and Alaska’s Midnight Sun Marathon. At the age of 45, she took up Ironman, with help from a coach, on a challenge from her oldest son.

“I fell in love with Ironman and participated all the way through qualifying for Kona,” says Quirk, who recovered from a biking accident and qualified for Kona in 2008 at Lanzarote in the Canary Islands when the first-place finisher declined the spot.

“Things fell into place for me,” she says. “It was obviously meant for me to go to Kona. “Having reached the pinnacle of my triathlon career at Kona, I hung up the bike. It was time for me to plant my feet back on the ground.”

my feet back on the ground

12932762In 2010, she completed a plan to run a marathon on every continent, then took up the challenge of becoming the first woman to complete RacingThePlanet’s 4 Deserts Race Series (Editor’s note: 2015 races include the Gobi, Sahara, Atacama and The Last Desert [Antarctica]). The races are the world’s leading rough-country endurance footraces, each taking place over seven days and 250 kilometers (over 150 miles) in the largest and most forbidding deserts on the planet. Competitors must carry all their food, clothing and gear on their back while the organizers provide water and a multi-person tent at night. Quirk and two other women completed the series. Samantha Gash from Australia took first woman and youngest; Quirk took second, becoming the first American woman and oldest person ever to complete the series; and Lucy Rivers-Buckley placed third, becoming the first woman from the United Kingdom. At the time, Quirk was 57 and Gash was 27.

“I did take the first American woman to ever do it and the oldest person to have done it,” says Quirk, who still holds that record. “That was a great experience. I loved every desert. They were difficult and challenging but beautiful places to be.”

She discovered The Right Stuff in the Gobi Desert, the second race in the series, after losing track of her salt pills in the first race. She placed sixth among women overall.

“I said I need something I can just put in my water and drink and not have to think about how many tablets I take,” she recalls. “I’m telling you, it was amazing for me. I took about four ounces every 20 minutes or so.”

I don’t go without it (The Right Stuff) because it works so well

Since then, she’s depended on The Right Stuff in training as well as ultramarathons, including the Brazil 135, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, and Badwater, where she holds the 60-to-69 record. 071713-1689-virginia-photographer-runwell-badwater“I don’t go without it because it works so well,” she says. “I don’t have to think about what I’m putting in my body or how much. It replaces a lot of what’s depleted.”

Quirk, who ran in this year’s Brazil 175 but stopped at 100 miles because the 60-hour limit was out of reach, says she aims to keep up her participation. While some men older than 60 have continued to run ultramarathons, few women have blazed such a trail.

“I enjoy pushing and seeing how far I can go,” she says, adding that she has paid close attention to nutrition in recent years to sustain the effort. “I hope to show that women don’t have to stop. I try to push the envelope as long as my body is allowing me to.”