Athletes and active individuals of all ages are paying more attention than ever to nutrition to improve their performance on and off the field. This is especially so for elite college athletes of today.
The NCAA recently revised legislation to allow expanded offerings of foods and snacks to meet the demanding nutritional needs of athletes. This new landscape has allowed sports dietitians to plan and facilitate a new level of fueling strategies using foods and fluids. With a combination of carbohydrates and high-quality protein, dairy foods make a strong teammate for dietitians in these efforts.
Sports dietitians especially like the fact that milk and other dairy foods are a natural source of whey protein. Whey protein is a great source of the amino acid leucine, which is a branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) that is directly metabolized by the muscle tissue. Leucine has been shown in research to be a powerful signal to help trigger muscle protein growth. Including natural sources of whey protein can help any athlete recover and maintain muscle mass.
At the University of Georgia, we shake, mix, top, peel, drink and blend a variety of dairy products to fill the nutrient needs for our athletes. It’s not uncommon to find student-athletes recovering with cold chocolate milk after a tough workout, or topping a cup of Greek yogurt with blueberries, nuts, granola, or even peanut butter during the lunch training table.
It can be fun and nutritious to create a make-your-own yogurt parfait bar. We all like to individualize our foods based on personal preferences, health or performance needs. Getting creative with parfait bar toppings can provide a yummy side dish to any meal. Try toppings like toasted coconut, homemade granola, banana chips, dark chocolate chips, honey or fresh-cut fruit for a nutrient-rich parfait. We’ve had great success providing yogurt-based smoothie recipes in the mornings and string cheese as a mid-morning snack from several fueling stations located around campus.
No matter where you go on campus, it’s easy to see that the Dawgs are working hard and training at the table!
Jen Ketterly MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Jen has worked for the past three years to establish the nutrition services for the Georgia Bulldogs as their first Director of Sports Nutrition. She and her staff serve all 650 student-athletes’ health and performance needs both on and off the fields of play. Follow her on Twitter @DawgSportsNutr.