How Can You Perform Like The Collegiate and Pro Athletes While Competing In The Heat?
Becci Twombley grew up in the beach volleyball town of Manhattan Beach, Calif., and played volleyball at Pepperdine University, where she graduated in 1998 with a degree in athletic training and sports medicine. She married Dennis Twombley, a Pepperdine baseball player who was drafted by the New York Yankees, and they spent five years moving among minor league cities where she took coaching jobs.
Becci became interested in the importance of nutrition for athletes and earned her Registered Dietitian certification in 2003. In the years before athletic organizations recognized the need for such a specialty, she was a pediatric and neonatal nutrition specialist in a hospital – using nutrition to help children’s bodies recover just as she now uses nutrition to help athletes’ bodies recover. “You’re doing the same thing – whether it’s an exhaustive training session or therapy, you’re trying to replace nutrients and help the body recover,” Becci says.
In 2007, UCLA hired her part-time to run its sports nutrition program, a position that grew into full-time. In 2009, Becci was a founding board member of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association (CPSDA), whose membership has grown from 20 to 65 full-time professional members (and over 800 in total) as awareness of the field accelerates. She is also a member of the Sports and Cardiovascular Nutritionists (SCAN) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Two years ago, she became Director of Sports Nutrition at the University of Southern California.
“The athletes are really reliant on Sports Dietitians to make sure everything gets done the way it’s supposed to be done,” she says, adding that she emphasizes food first – milk, meat, vegetables, fruits, carbs, juices – and supplements as appropriate to provide balanced nutrition. For sweaty athletes, that’s The Right Stuff, says Becci, who rushes it to the practice field when coaches text that they are ready to practice.
The Right Stuff is Essential
“The Right Stuff is essential for football practice,” she says. “They all call it ‘the packet.’ I open it, mix it with water, and they drink it on the field,” she says. “The coaches notice it. The line coach has three guys that need it.” No-huddle offense means 95 to 115 plays per practice, compared to 70 in an ordinary offense, and the roster is down to 73 players, fewer than most schools. “Our guys are taking more snaps,” Becci says. “We really rely on The Right Stuff for that sort of thing.”
Sweating players in full pads can lose at least 1,000 milligrams of sodium an hour. The Right Stuff provides over 1700 milligrams in one packet, and instead of abrasive sodium chloride it’s sodium citrate, which is easier to digest and can help ease the buildup of free radicals that causes muscle fatigue, she says.
“It’s not just because they’re going to cramp,” Becci says. “We want to make sure their muscles are working efficiently. We’re minimizing any breakdown. Linemen need it most. They’re losing a ton of water, but they’re also losing a ton of salt. It’s imperative they have every asset they can.”
The Right Stuff is important for other athletes too, says Becci, who introduced the product when she became team nutritionist for the Major League Baseball Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim this season.
One of the first things I did when I got to the Angels was get The Right Stuff there too!
“One of the first things I did when I got to the Angels was get The Right Stuff there too” she says, adding that some players have not suffered their usual cramps since they started using it. “They have to make sure they’re just as fueled in the ninth inning as they were in the first. The catcher uses it. The pitchers are using it so they’re well hydrated all the way through.
One of the things I notice most with it is, in talking to the athletes, they feel as though they don’t become as lightheaded as the course of the game goes on. It’s because it has a significant amount of sodium in it and you’re reloading that sodium. You’re losing less water, and you’re retaining sodium.
The guys that use it have to use it every time. There’s no playing without it after you’ve felt the benefit.”