Most college athletes are deeply committed to their sport, but what about off the field? A college athlete's extremely busy and routine-oriented schedule can greatly impact their nutrition status and dietary habits, including their use of supplements.
“The biggest single challenge from my experience is time. Between training, school, studies, travel, and actual games, there is very little time to commit to much else - that can include a student-athlete's diet. Not only teaching our student-athletes understand the vital importance of proper nutrition for performance and recovery but then finding ways to make time and work in what they learn takes real discipline and desire on their part,” explained Rob Masterson, RD, Director of Performance Nutrition, Michigan State University Athletics.
MSU’s tailored approach
Masterson said it's crucial that he and his team take an individualized approach to nutrition.
“Yes, we do team talks and education but the real learning happens when an athlete takes the time to sit down with us one-on-one. In that setting, we can survey their eating habits, find out their personal food preferences and develop nutrition goals that fit their unique sport/position/body composition, etc.”
When it comes to female athletes, Masterson said there are extra considerations to be taken into account.
“Specific nutrition considerations that we need to take into consideration include meeting overall energy needs from all three macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat), as well as micronutrient intake, particularly calcium, vitamin D, and iron,” said Masterson. “From a nutrition perspective, there could always be more research to help improve our knowledge and subsequent nutrition interventions, but where I think things can, at times, add a layer of complexity for female athletes of all ages is the mixed messages they can often receive when it comes to diet, nutrition, body image, and what it looks like to fuel properly to be healthy, strong athlete.”
Sustainability trending on campus
One trend that Masterson said he is seeing and hearing more from the athletes is the additional consideration for the impact their diet and food choices make from an environmental standpoint. Like many young adults who seem to be more conscious of the environmental impact they can have, either positively or negatively, they are making decisions in what they eat to reflect that. He added that he is seeing more athletes interested in a more plant-based diet with the environmental impact in mind more often now than in years past.
Sports & Active Nutrition
Masterson will be speaking on nutritional considerations for college athletes at the upcoming Sports & Active Nutrition Summit.
He will provide insight into the demands on a college athlete and how his team of sports dietitians work to optimize student-athlete health and performance, how to recognize the unique nutritional challenges collegiate athletes encounter, how to understand the role of the sports dietitian in the collegiate setting and provide insight into NCAA regulations regarding supplementation at the collegiate level.
“I'm really looking forward to discussing the unique landscape of college athletics, how this can greatly impact the nutritional status and demands of student-athletes, and how our team of sports dietitians help to meet those demands daily through education, counseling, and procurement of food, hydration, and supplements products.”
The event is slated for Feb. 14-16. The venue is the Hyatt Regency Resort located on San Diego’s beautiful Mission Bay. For more information and to secure your space, click the links below.