This Sports Dietitian handles all those college athletes and still finds time to compete in Triathlons and Marathons

John TanguayMassachusetts native Jonathan Tanguay was in Colorado, waiting tables, hiking, and trying to figure out what to do with his undergraduate degree in zoology from Connecticut College, when he took a biochemistry course that bonded his various interests. He graduated from the master’s program in nutritional science at the University of New Hampshire, moved to Texas for a dietetic internship at the University of Houston, and found his dream during a month-long rotation at Texas A&M.

“I loved it,” Tanguay says. “That was what I wanted to do. That was the application of all the sports nutrition I had and the love of sport I had and getting involved in something with structure. Every day is unique.”

Tanguay, who was named Texas A&M’s Director of Performance Nutrition in 2010, has a full-time assistant who focuses on Olympic sports while he hands mostly football, baseball and basketball.

“My office is our football weight room,” he says. Four days a week, he works with football players in training, taking their weight, talking to them about fueling and nutrition, and making sure they get recovery smoothies after their workouts. In the afternoons, he works with baseball and basketball players before practice across campus, then returns for football practice and dinner in the new R.C. Slocum Nutrition Center, a dining hall for athletes.

Focus on Sports Nutrition in College

The NCAA’s recent announcement that it is lifting limits on food that schools can provide to athletes, effective Aug. 1, will accelerate a focus on sports nutrition that has swept through leading colleges in recent years, including most members of the Southeastern Conference, the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big 12, Big 10 and others, Tanguay says.

“In the long run, it’s going to be something that’s really great for the student-athlete,” he says. “They’re bigger, they’re stronger, they’re burning a lot more calories, they’re working out and practicing – that requires more fuel. We were only allowed to feed the team as a team one meal a day outside of competition.”

The old rules left students using a scholarship stipend to buy campus meal plans, off-campus meals, or food to prepare in their apartments – with less-than-optimal attention to nutrition.

“This will allow us to provide them the food that will meet their unique nutritional needs, to help them develop as healthy athletes, and be good for their overall health,” Tanguay says, adding that the students come from a wide spectrum of food experience in their backgrounds.

“It’s definitely challenging,” he says. “You get kids from all walks of life. We’ve got Sports Dietitians here that can really help to be hands-on with the student-athletes and work to educate them about making better choices.” The education includes cooking demonstrations at the Nutrition Education Center and trips to the grocery to learn how to select, store, prepare, and cook food. “Some don’t get it at first, but for someone who’s trying to gain weight or lose weight or reduce their risk for injury, they start coming to me and taking advantage of these resources,” Tanguay says.

Not every approach works with every athlete, but The Right Stuff is a great tool we have from a hydration standpoint.

The Right Stuff is one of the resources. “We use it as part of our hydration protocol” he says. “It’s another tool we have in our belts. There’s a number of sports nutrition products on the market and a number of different approaches. Not every approach works with every athlete, but The Right Stuff is a great tool we have from a hydration standpoint. We use it with a number of different sports.”

Tanguay participates in Iron Mans, half-Iron Mans, and marathons – he set a personal record (PR) at this year’s Boston Marathon – and includes The Right Stuff in his personal regimen. “I start to build my carbohydrate and electrolyte intake a week before the race,” he says. “I’ve got a pre-race routine. For me, it’s been trial and error. I’ve come up with something that works for me. The Right Stuff is part of that.

“I’ve never really had an issue with cramping or GI issues during a race. I like The Right Stuff because it gives you everything you need in one package. Before it came out, we had been looking for something that fit the criteria, and it wasn’t on the market. It’s the volume of electrolytes in a small volume of fluid. This is a small, convenient way to get everything you need that we’ve found works.”

What Can This NASCAR Driver Teach You About Optimal Hydration?

Michael Mcdowell - The Right StuffAfter racecar driver Michael McDowell switched to NASCAR from sports cars and Indy cars in 2007, he suffered extreme dehydration on a track in Virginia and went looking for a solution.

“I was doing a lot of research and trying to find out how to stay hydrated,” says McDowell, a Phoenix-area native who moved to Charlotte in 2004. “At the time, I was losing anywhere from 8 to 10 pounds per race of water during the race itself. I was trying to figure out a way to stay hydrated. You’re in the car four or five hours. It’s 110 to 130 degrees inside the car. Obviously, in our sport, hydration is key.”

When driving around the track at over 150 mph, reaction time is critical. Proper hydration is essential to maintain that continuous, nearly instantaneous response timing.

He first learned about The Right Stuff® when he was at an event with former NASA Space Shuttle Pilot Bill Gregory who uses it for his endurance training. Bill is an enthusiastic user of The Right Stuff who even joined the Board of Wellness Brands, makers of The Right Stuff. Since McDowell found The Right Stuff three years ago, he has cut his water consumption during races by half, from 64 to 32 ounces.

The Advantage

“I feel like it gives me an advantage,” he says. “During the race weekends, I will take it within an hour leading up to the race. Then, in the middle of the race I’ll take one as well. I just mix it in the water and have it in the car with me. It works well. One of the main reasons I continue to use it is because I simply don’t lose as much water throughout the event, so I don’t have to rehydrate as much. I’m not losing as much, which is ideal for me.”

One of the main reasons I continue to use it is because I simply don’t lose as much water throughout the event, so I don’t have to rehydrate as much

McDowell also turns to The Right Stuff when he’s involved in other sweaty sports, such as when he competes in triathlons.

“For me, I take it when I know I’m going to do something that’s going to be extreme and long-lasting,” he says. “I use it for all of those extreme conditions.”

Michael McDowell – NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide series driver and advocate of The Right Stuff hydration supplement

We enjoy sharing the experiences of our athlete advocates who have experienced the powerful performance of The Right Stuff Hydration supplement. Here is great feedback from NASCAR Sprint Cupa and Nationwide series driver Michael McDowell:

When I get strapped behind the wheel of my NASCAR vehicle that reaches over 200 mph, I need to be alert and on top of my game constantly. Hydration is a huge part of our sport and with temperatures well above 120 degrees inside the race car, preventing dehydration can be very difficult.  I lose up to 10 lbs over the period of a 500 mile race. The Right Stuff is the first hydration product that I have used that keeps me at peak performance through out the entire race. I use The Right Stuff before, during and especially after to help me recover.

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Michael McDowell – NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide series driver and advocate of The Right Stuff hydration supplement
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Racecar of Michael McDowell – NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide series driver and advocate of The Right Stuff hydration supplement