NutraCast Podcast: MSU's Director of Performance Nutrition on COVID challenges
Rob Masterson oversees the nutrition operations for all varsity teams at MSU. The year has been pretty incredible for him and the athletic department. At one point, there wasn’t going to be a football season. However, the Big 10 Conference subsequently overturned that decision and just a few weeks ago the Spartans took home the Paul Bunyan trophy in a 27-24 victory over the University of Michigan.
“It’s been quite a whirlwind but we’re happy that we’re at least having some sports be active right now,” said the younger Masterson.
Looking back at this time last year, he said a lot has changed. However “From a nutrition standpoint, that area really hasn't changed so much in the sense of the demand placed on our athlete’s bodies, their need to recover and refuel, and take care of themselves so they remain healthy throughout the entire season. But the logistics behind it [have].”
He added that while immunity has always been top of mind for him, it’s now something that athletes are thinking about too.
“We always try to incorporate immune boosting, anti-inflammatory type foods into our athletes' diets and we’ve done that in years past and we’ll continue to do that. But COVID I think has brought more of a spotlight on immune health in general and how food and nutrition can relate to that,” explained Masterson. “So it’s almost made my job easier in the sense of explaining why those nutrients are important and how they can play a role in helping support immune health overall.”
One thing that hasn’t made his job easier is misinformation. “Often times I’m finding myself having to not just teach them and help them learn something, but also ‘un-learn’ faulty information regarding nutrition.”
But it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. When Masterson sits down for his one-on-one consultations, he said their needs are as diverse as the athletes themselves. “Whether it’s a gymnast or one of our basketball athletes or a wrestler, even their background, where they’ve come from, we’ve got athletes from all over the world. They have very diverse and different backgrounds and come from different places and so their concerns are also very diverse."
To hear more about sports nutrition during COVID at Michigan State, listen to the NutraCast. You can also subscribe on iTunes, Spotify and Stitcher.
NutraCast is a podcast that focuses on insights from inside the nutrition industry. It is a production by NutraIngredients-USA. Music by Kevin Macleod.