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Do you need a sports dietitian? Dave Ellis, sports RD, answers

Dave Ellis pic

Why do athletes need a sports RD? A message from sports dietitian Dave Ellis

Dave Ellis and I had a chance to talk recently when he was in town for an EAS Sports Performance seminar at Athletes’ Performance Training Center. (To watch the video, scroll to bottom or click here.)

Neily: I’m with Dave Ellis, veteran sports dietitian and we’re at the Athletes’ Performance in Frisco, Texas. I have the privilege of interviewing Dave because he is here for a seminar. So, let’s talk a little about sports nutrition. Why are dietitians so important in the world of sports?
Dave: I think there is no shortage of nutrition advice out there when it comes to athletes but very few people can bring food to life and give it value like dietitians. That’s what they are specially good at. So, at the end of the day, athletes’ success is really built around whether they are eating properly, whether their meal patterns are appropriate. And you can have the best supplement systems in the world but at the end of the day, under-fueled athletes are very vulnerable. That’s what sports RDs do—bring home that food first message.
A diet rich in soy and whey protein, found in ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Neily:  Excellent. What do you see is the biggest challenge when you first start working with an athlete?

Dave:  Well, a lot of them have been eating on the fly their whole life. Multi-sport athletes probably didn’t grow up in the “Beaver-Cleaver” house with meals every night at home as a family. So they’ve been eating on the fly and eating at drive-thrus. Some of them don’t even know how to eat fresh produce. It is the weak link in their diet. We have bad quality meals with no fresh produce and we have very poor meal patterns—there is meal skipping going on. They don’t have much of an appetite in the morning. At a very fundamental level between their sleep, their meal patterns and the quality of the meals they have, we have our hands full.

Neily:  That’s great information. What would be the take home message for somebody listening? Just one thing that you can tell somebody that would be most important, you think.

Dave:  For the athlete, my advice would be don’t reach for some dietary supplement  when you don’t have the fundamentals buttoned up. If your sleep and your diet quality and diet pattern and your lifestyle are all frazzled at the ends, don’t think a dietary supplement is going to patch everything up for you. I have seen too many young athletes fall prey to that thinking

Neily:  Great advice—thanks!  Dave can be reached at Thank you for watching Neily on Nutrition and we’ll see you in the next video.

Sports drinks—when do you need them?

Players of the Colorado State University footb...

Colorado State University football team (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sports Drinks—when do you need them?

Karin Hosenfeld—sports dietitian for the Allen Americans Professional Hockey team—and I talked about sports drinks and other liquids for hydrating. (To watch the video click here or scroll to end of blog post.)

Neily: We’re talking about hydration. It’s summer now and very, very important. But it’s important all year around. So let’s talk a little bit about hydration.
Karin: Yes. Important all year round because people walk around dehydrated most of the time. A good way to check if you are dehydrated is to check the color of your urine. If you are light, very light, pale lemonade color then you are pretty well hydrated. But if you are heading towards that dark, apple juice color, tea color, then you really need to hydrate better. Drink lots more water. And we are going to talk about that…Really important to hydrate with water most of the day. Sometimes, people can get a little bored of the water. I get that. Any kind of flavorings are good. I happen to like the Crystal Light Pure.  I know you like it too.
Neily: I do… I do. (Crystal Light Pure has no artificial colors, preservatives or sweeteners)
Karin: A lot of times, people think if they are working out that they need Gatorade or Powerade automatically.
Neily: Right…
Karin: And that is just not the case unless you are working out for more than 60 minutes at a time, vigorous activity. The American College of Sports Medicine says only then should you be reaching out for a sports drink, per se with the full calories in it.So, a better thing to go for is Propel. Say for example you are working out for 20 mins, 30 mins break up into a little sweat, then you can have something like this. There are no calories, has a little bit of electrolytes but it’s not so heavy or have as many calories as the Gatorade…
Neily: Yeah. Too often, I see people fueling with a Gatorade when they are just doing a short work out. And often times, they are working out to burn calories because they are trying to lose weight. And then they’re just putting back the calories they’ve just burned.
Karin: Or worse. It’s hot outside and people drink it all day long.
Neily: Yes..I know. I see recommendations for that…nothing against these products. They are great products for athletes and sport workouts for more than 60 minutes
Karin: Absolutely. If you are doing 30 or 45 minute workout, you are breaking up a pretty good sweat—working out a bit harder, but it’s still not 60 min, you can do something like a G2 or a Powerade Zero and those have much fewer calories. They still have the electrolytes. So, if you are sweating, you can get that back. But not the huge calorie burden of say a Gatorade or Powerade.So again, these are for 60 min or more vigorous activity. A great choice—great products for what they are for.A lot of people, these days, I have been noticing are doing these here—which is either coconut water or Vitamin Water. They do have a Vitamin Water Zero. A lot of people think, ‘I am saving the calories but I need the vitamins.’ But really, if you are eating a variety of foods, a generally healthy diet you don’t need them. And if taking vitamins, you have to watch out for that because you can have too many vitamins. So really something to be concerned with. Many of these people are doing 2 or 3 of these every day and you have to watch out that you are not getting too many of these vitamins
Neily: Right…
Karin: There’s 100% of vitamins in here for some of these. And then another one that people do a lot of lately is the coconut water.
Neily: Yes. Those have gotten really popular.
Karin: And for a sports recovery drink, there is a lot of potassium in it…it’s great for that but the sodium is not there. So if you are really breaking a sweat and you want something that has more sodium, you can really go for the Powerade or Gatorade, Powerade Zero or Gatorade 2 (G2) rather than this because it just does not have the sodium that you want (and need).
Neily: There is a great marketing program behind it. And quite honestly, so much of this is marketing…
Karin: It’s time to drink more water. Really… for the kids too, it is water. A lot of times, people give Gatorade or something like that throughout the day because it’s hot outside. But it’s 60 min of vigorous activity—then they can have some Gatorade. Usually they are getting it all day long.
Neily: Hydration is critical..
Karin: Yes. If you lose 3 to 4 percent of your body weight—which might just be several pounds depending on how much you weigh—it can decrease your performance by up to 20 percent. No athlete I know wants to decrease their performance by 20 percent. That’s huge.So we start with the water. Make sure we stay well hydrated. Check your urine and you’re good to go!
Neiy: Excellent. Great information. Again Karin Hosenfeld, sports dietitian for the Allen Americans Professional Hockey team. Thanks for watching Neily on Nutrition and we’ll see you in the next video.

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