This Q & A features in the insight of Chris Downey, the Director of Sports Medicine at Binghamton University.
Q: In your work with college athletes, what is one nutrition mistake you see commonly made? And one nutrition strength you see commonly among athletes?
Mistakes: Unfortunately, I see many nutrition mistakes with college student-athletes (poor hydration, not enough calories consumed, improper protein intake, etc.).
In my opinion, there is two reasons for this: 1. Student-athletes truly are not familiar with what they should be consuming on a daily basis and before/after physical activity. 2. They have very demanding schedules that makes it difficult for them to schedule proper fueling. This is why many institutions have developed nutrition training tables and refueling stations.
Strengths - I think student-athletes are eager/receptive to learn about how proper nutrition habits can benefit them and once they are instructed properly they will make appropriate changes.
Q: Have you observed that well-fueled athletes meet their training goals or recover quicker?
Absolutely. It is obvious to me when student-athletes are well-fueled versus not. Their training goals, recovery, and rehabilitation is always improved when fueled properly.
What are the top areas related to nutrition that you think athletes need to focus on?
In a general sense, I would like student-athletes to focus on hydration and caloric intake (not empty calories).
What is a nutrition tip you can share with coaches or trainers should routinely reminder or talk to their players about?
My biggest tip is to create resources for your student-athletes; such as, a registered dietitian or nutritionist they can meet with, water bottles for them to hydrate with, and refueling stations. It is a lot more likely for your student-athletes to make proper nutrition choices if they have resources available for them to utilize.