Performance Nutrition Update

Last month, I spent some time at Division I Duke University in North Carolina learning the latest in college sports, pro sports, and military performance nutrition. Check out some behind-the-scene photos of Duke Football. You’ll notice a strength record with the name Paul Asack on it. He is an amazing athlete I used to run track with in the summer (a long time ago… proud of you Paul!). Bonus: My dietitian colleagues from all over the U.S. and I completed a sweaty strength and conditioning workout on an indoor turf Duke Football practice field (see photos included in post).

What does a dietitian do for a sport or military performance team, you ask?

The role of a dietitian for a performance team:

  • Dietitian provides resources to coaches (education, support, recommendations)
  • Collaborate on protocols and strategies used
  • Collects and consolidates data, stays current on research
  • Body composition, performance supplements, vitamin supplementation
  • Members of performance team: athletic trainer, sports medicine physician, sport dietitian, strength & conditioning coach, sport psychologist, clinical psychologist, sport scientist


Questions a dietitian may ask an athlete/performance team member:

  • Tell me about your current eating habits.
  • How many times do you eat per day?
  • How many times do you eat outside of your home?
  • Do you avoid any foods?
  • Do you take supplements?
  • Do you know which supplements are banned by the NCAA?
  • How much water do you drink before, during, and after a workout?
  • How easy/difficult is it for you to maintain your weight?
  • What are your weight goals?
  • How important is this to you?

Fun facts:

Did you know 74% of female D1 athletes did not meet the minimum recommendations for carbohydrates and 50% did not meet the minimum needs for protein in a 2013 study of 52 D1 athletes?

Dietitians can calculate your fluid needs, carbohydrate, fat and protein needs depending on your sport and your position in your sport (ex: pitchers need more calories than third basemen).

How are Traditional Sport (Athletes) similar and different to/than Tactical Athletes (Soldiers)?

There are many similarities and differences like regular access to food and fueling stations and variable access to food and sanitation. The biggest one is outcomes:

Win/Lose vs. Life/Death 


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