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.

bike

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”

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

World Champion San Francisco Giants Count on The Right Stuff to Keep Their Ballplayers Well Hydrated

World Champion San Francisco Giants Count on The Right Stuff to Keep Their Ballplayers Well Hydrated

The MLB (Major League Baseball) Defending World Champion San Francisco Giants, with a strong emphasis on nutrition and hydration, turn to The Right Stuff® when players need an electrolyte boost, says Carl Kochan, the team’s head Strength and Conditioning coach. carl-kochanThe World Champions, who adopted the NASA-developed product, as an important part of their hydration program more than two years ago, consumed as much of The Right Stuff in this year’s Spring Training as all last year’s regular season as players became more familiar with its benefits.

The Importance of Hydration

“Hydration is a huge component of performance as well as recovery,” Kochan says.

MLB Logo SF Giants BallIn addition to the challenges of practice and games, the Giants need regular hydration for their long flights to East Coast and Midwest opponents. They are among the most-traveled MLB team, and hours in dry airplane air require regular moisture replenishment.

“There’s evidence-based research out there that not just athletes but everyday people flying can need eight ounces of water for every hour in the air,” Kochan says. “With our rigorous travel schedule, some guys are not doing the best of their ability to eat properly as pertains to performance.”

Players can turn to The Right Stuff before, during, and after the practice or game for that extra boost.

Sweaty destinations, especially during the summer months, also can remove more water and nutrients than players restore with ordinary eating and drinking. Players can turn to The Right Stuff before, during, and after practice or games for that extra boost. The product is available to the whole team, and individuals choose when to use it.

“It changes each day because guys’ hydration levels change each day,” Kochan says “The ultimate goal is to educate each player. You do your best as part of a medical staff to educate players so they can make a good performance nutrition decisions. They need to get their electrolytes balanced for the best performance on the field. If they’ve thought about that, we’ve done our job.”

As part of a comprehensive nutrition and hydration program, The Right Stuff helps players feel well-prepared for play rather than sluggish and lethargic, Kochan says.

[Editors Note: The Right Stuff is not another sports drink, it is serious hydration for serious athletes™.  The company participates in the NSF Certified for Sport program, so every batch is independently tested and cleared not to contain any banned substances, heavy metals or other adulterants.]

Athletic Excellence in College Depends on Optimal Sports Nutrition

Randy Bird started a biology major at Virginia Tech because he planned to go to medical school, maybe becoming an orthopedic surgeon so he could stay connected to athletes in the sports that he loved. When prospects of a medical career lost their luster, he Randy Bird Hd Shotswitched to human nutrition, foods and exercise science to achieve the same goal.

Bird is Director of Sports Nutrition at the University of Virginia as well as the president of the 800+ member Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association (learn more about CPSDA at sportsrd.org), that serves colleges, pro teams, military and others.

“Back when I was starting at University of Kansas, in 2005, there were only 10 schools that had a full-time sports dietitian,” he says. “In the last nine years, we’ve gone from 10 to 45 schools, maybe close to 50 now,” including several schools with multiple staff members.

NCAA Lifted Food Restrictions at Universities

That growth likely will accelerate because the NCAA has lifted restrictions on food that universities can provide to athletes, scrapping regulations that once permitted bagels but not cream cheese or peanut butter.

That rule change should spark even more job growth because you need somebody who knows what they’re doing managing that food,” Bird says. “The profession was already growing. That new rule, or the removal of the old rule, really drives us forward even more.”

Some athletes imagined that the change would turn college into a cruise ship, with lavish buffets at every turn, but the reality involves strategic fueling that will be implemented differently at different colleges.

Randy Bird by BodPod“It’s going to be up to the school what they can afford to do and what’s best for their athletes,” Bird says. “In some situations, a school might be able to do a breakfast and lunch set up for athletes. For us, that’s not a viable option,” because of the logistics of classroom and practice locations.

“The athletes still have a meal plan, but we’re going to be using it more to provide the additional calories that our athletes need to make them whole, to repair the damage they’ve done from their workouts and to maintain their health.”  Improvements in nutrition can improve safety as well as health for the athletes.

“A big majority of injuries happen when the athletes are fatigued,” Bird says. “If they’re underfueled, they’re going to be spending a lot more of their games and practices in that fatigued state. If they’re underfueled, they’re not recovering as well so you’re going to be having more muscle injuries.

Fuel starts with food but includes appropriate supplementation, such as shakes to replenish calories and vitamins, and The Right Stuff to sustain hydration.

That’s where The Right Stuff comes in – to aid in hydration and replace the electrolytes during practice and games.

“We want to provide food as the baseline,” Bird says. “Food needs to be the majority of what our athletes are getting. However, there’s plenty of room still for supplementation too. That’s where The Right Stuff comes in – to aid in hydration and pre-loading and replacement of electrolytes lost during practice and games.”

Hydration is Critical for Collegiate Athletes’ Performance

Bird, who heard of The Right Stuff through the CPSDA, started using it at Kansas and brought it to Virginia, first for football, where the NASA-developed formula has eliminated the need for IVs during game halftimes and drastically reduced the number needed for practices.

“It has cut down on the amount of IVs we have to give,” Bird says. “To me, that’s tremendous. When I started working here, the first summer during training camp, we had IVs that we had to do just to make sure guys were hydrated when they were going out to that second practice.

“We’ve developed a strategy to help them hydrate. If they can come into the game hydrated and then maintain these hydration practices during the game, there’s no need for an IV. They’re not losing as much, and they’re replacing what they lose.”

Other sports, including lacrosse, soccer, and tennis, are also using The Right Stuff and have reported excellent results too, he says.

Each packet has nearly 1.8 grams of sodium in it, which is critical for those marathon runners and triathletes.  “A typical tennis player could easily sweat out five or six pounds of fluid,” Bird says, losing at least 2-3  grams of sodium. “Using The Right Stuff is an easy way to stay up with that electrolyte loss.”

Is a 100 Mile Run a Long Enough Race to Really Challenge?

Phile-Rosenstein-BadwaterPhil Rosenstein decided he wanted to do an Ironman triathlon in 2004, before he even knew the length of the race.

“I ran cross-country in high school – the longest race was five miles or something,” he recalls. “I somehow got it into my head that I wanted to do an Ironman triathlon. Later that year, I ran my first marathon and six months later did the first Ironman.”

Then Rosenstein joined an Endurance List e-mail group and discovered ultrarunning when the first post was “At what point in a race do you sleep?” – which he first assumed was a mistranslation by an international runner.

Going Farther

“I didn’t know that stuff even existed or people could even do that,” he says. “These guys are elite professional athletes. There’s no way I could possible do this – could I? Maybe. Maybe if I really focused hard and trained hard. You get carried away. That’s what happens with a lot of us. A marathon’s not far enough. We’ve got to go farther than that.”

Phil-Rosenstein-Finishing-1

Rosenstein ran his first 100-mile race in Vermont in 2005, months after his first Marathon. He did two more that year, then five 100s, three 50s, two Ironman and one double Ironman in 2006.

In 2007, he tied with another runner for the most races 100 miles or more – nine 100s and three 150s.

“It became a lifestyle for me for a while,” says Rosenstein, who left his international pharmaceutical marketing job to become an animal control officer, then took a domestic pharmaceutical job where he often gave Monday presentations after a weekend of running. When that company was sold in late 2007, his severance supported him for a year.

“For a while, I was a professional runner,” he says. “It was the central part of my life really right up until 2010 or 2011. It was what I focused my life around. For three or four years, all I was doing was running races, giving speeches to running clubs about running, volunteering, pacing, coaching,”

In 2008, Rosenstein ran the Badwater 135 (from Death Valley up Mt. Whitney) just months after lung surgery because of complications from pneumonia. Doctors said his powerful cardiovascular system saved his life.

Three weeks later he started a 3,300-mile run across the country – Los Angeles to Chicago to Atlantic City, N.J, in 92 days, pushing a cart with his sleeping bag, clothes, and water. I just refused to give up

“I still don’t really look at it as I’m superhuman,” he says. “It’s just because I wouldn’t quit. I was like a robot bouncing against a wall until either the robot breaks or the wall breaks. I just refused to give up.”

Rosenstein found The Right Stuff about four years ago, a research-based product that improved on the trial-and-error attempts at physical care he had done in the past.          (Editor’s Note: Published studies show the formula is significantly better for fighting dehydration symptoms, protecting the body from overheating and increasing athletic endurance by over 20% more than any other NASA-tested formula).

“I used to joke that I put lotion on my feet that is made for cows and sold to farmers,” he says. “I used Pedialyte for kids, Ensure for old people. At the time it was ‘whatever works for you.’ This NASA-developed product was actually designed for this. A lot of time, money and energy was spent developing this and it’s what we found works. The Right Stuff works really well as far as giving your body the electrolytes it needs.” He takes a serving in every other water bottle during the day, every third bottle at night. “That’s what seems to work best for me. My legs always feel fresher at the end.”

Rosenstein, 44, married Karla, whom he met when she was a novice runner at a race in Leadville, Colo., several years ago. He lives in Colorado and works in inventory management. He last ran a 100-mile race in November 2012 because he is recovering from a fifth bout with pneumonia.

“I miss it,” he says. “It’s a culture all by itself. When I started doing these crazy races, there were 25 races in the country and probably 1,000 finishers a year – 75 to 100 people who would do more than one. It’s a small community. The sport’s grown a lot, but I do miss the people, the friendships, the places. You’re always running these races in beautiful parks – and the camaraderie you have! It’s 2 a.m., you’re at mile 75 or 80, it’s pouring rain, it’s 45 degrees. Whoever you come across on the trail is now your best friend in the world.”