The 5 hour workshop was held on Sunday, March 26th and served as a kick-off to the VAND Annual Meeting. Our first speaker, Linda Samuels, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN of Training Table Sports Nutrition, traveled all the way from Chicago, IL to share her expertise. Linda works with elite athletes including ironman triathletes and professional boxers and discussed the challenges faced by athletes in adequately and appropriately fueling their bodies in the "age of fast food, skipped meals and convenient stores." The aim was to help attendees gain an understanding of the challenges the athletic lifestyle poses to ideal food and fluid intake and learn strategies to help athletes more successfully navigate fast food menus and other convenience food options.
"Fueling for Performance in the Age of Fast Food, Skipped Meals and Convenience Stores" - Key Points:
Our next presentation was given by Jennie Zabinsky, MAEd, RD, the lead dietitian of Virginia Tech Athletics. Jennie manages a team of 3 additional dietitians to fuel over 500 varsity student-athletes and has been instrumental in the growth of the performance nutrition program at Virginia Tech throughout her 7 year tenure. Jennie shared many practical fueling strategies for the over-scheduled athlete or active individual, a topic I was VERY excited to learn more on knowing that I too fit into this category and can struggle to keep up with my fueling needs. Her presentation also included a discussion of the proper and safe use of dietary supplements.
“Practical Strategies for the Over-scheduled Athlete and Active Individual” - Key Points:
Next on the agenda was a quick break, followed by a 45 minute tour of Virginia Tech Athletics within the Merryman Athletic Center (a full tour of all facilities would have been fun, but would have taken hours!) As part of the tour, participants were treated to snacks and beverages, including a tasting of Tech's Hokie Trail Mix!
An inside look at The Oasis, Tech's fueling station for varsity athletes. Athletes attain pre- and post-workout fuel from the fueling station according a to point system. Offerings include custom smoothies, and a variety of "Tasty Tuesday" creations aimed to increase the palate of the athlete to enhance performance.
The final presentation of the day was given by Linda Samuels, who outlined her protocol for working with her most complex clients in order to take their performance to a whole new level. During her talk she utilized a case study of one of her biggest clients, a 29 year old professional boxer. Before getting into the "meat" of the presentation Linda gave an overview of the complexity of sports nutrition as an advanced practice, especially if one is functioning as a private practice sports RD. Key point: sports dietitians juggle a lot of different roles outside of counseling client and there's SO MUCH MORE than what appears on surface level including the need to market yourself and develop your brand, practice according to HIPAA requirements, and learn the ins and outs of a sport's rules and culture to most effective engage with clients.
"Athletes and Energy Balance: Critical Thinking Through The Complex Client" - Key Points:
After Linda's second presentation, workshop participants had the opportunity to have their most pressing questions answered through a panel discussion including Linda, Jennie, myself, and the three other RD's on the VT Sports Nutrition team (Aly, Allyson and Matt). It was a valuable opportunity for participants to seek the insight of sports RD's working within a variety of settings and to compare/contrast different approaches in working with athletes. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to share some personal insight, and have to say that the panel was a huge hit! While only going for 30 minutes, based on audience, it probably could have gone on for much longer.
Though it took a lot of time and effort, I am so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to develop and design a quality performance nutrition workshop here in my hometown of Blacksburg, and for the many people who traveled from across the state of Virginia (and beyond!) to participate. Special thanks to Virginia Tech Athletics and The Virginia Beef Industry Council who served as primary sponsors for this event, both whom played an instrumental role in its success.
Kristen Chang is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and triathlete residing in southwest Virginia with her husband and dogs. Follow along as she shares favorite fueling recipes, general wellness and sport nutrition tips and stories from her athletic endeavors.
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