Last week we posted Brent Coralli – CEO of Sting Soccer – Brings On Registered and Licensed Dietitian. In the story, we mentioned, how in the youth game, awareness is lacking but hugely important given the taxing schedules and specific nutritional needs associated with growth and puberty. Critical for player development, sports performance, injury prevention and general wellness is a well-balanced diet.”
I recently asked Kelly some questions about health and nutrition, as well as questions about her background. By sharing her responses, my hope is you will see how much we value the well-being of our players, and – candidly – how lucky we are to have Kelly as part of our team.
What is your background? Why/how did you become an RD?
I grew up playing competitive soccer and when I was in the 7th grade my coach mentioned that he didn’t want us eating junk food a week before a big game. That initially got me interested in nutrition because I had never even thought about it before, nor did I think what I ate affected my game.
Getting into high school I started trying to learn more about the relationship between food and sports and got interested in biology. I then got recruited to play soccer at Cornell University where I majored in nutritional sciences in addition to being on the dietetic track (slightly more involved that nutrition alone). I played four years of varsity soccer as a goal keeper at Cornell and loved it!
I also really enjoyed studying nutrition. Throughout that time I definitely implemented what I learned in the classroom into my daily habits to improve my play. I got first-hand experience seeing how my game changed as a result of my nutrition habits.
Following four years of undergraduate studies and completing my dietetic requirements, I had to apply for my Dietetic Internship; there are about 250 programs across the country and it is a match-based selection process (you either get matched to one program or none) with a match rate of about 51 percent. The internship can range from 10 months to two years of supervised practice, and is required in order to sit for the national exam.
I have always wanted to move to the south but honestly never thought it would be all the way down in Texas. I had the opportunity to visit some of the programs I was thinking of applying to, and came down to Dallas to look at Baylor University Medical Center’s program. I fell in love with the program and those that run the program. I was fortunate to get matched to Baylor and moved to Dallas.
After completing the program, I passed my exam to become a Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist. I worked at Baylor right out of my program, in various departments including solid organ transplant, telemetry, GI ICU and orthopedics. I then decided to transition into educating and counseling individuals in the community, and that’s what led me to Sting.
What can a soccer player do – related to food – to perform better? Are the nutritional needs for a soccer player different for other athletes/non-athletes?
As a soccer player, the first step is to live a healthy life, which is a lot easier said and thought about than done. Making healthy choices, and eating a balanced diet on a daily basis will ensure that you are meeting your nutritional requirements and maintaining your health.
Some of those daily habits include eating fruits and vegetables, as well as lean protein sources, whole grains and low-fat dairy. Also, as elite athletes it is really important to make sure to eat breakfast so that you jump-start your day and your mind.
Your brain needs fuel starting from when you wake up. Eating before and after practice and games is crucial as well.
For soccer players, before practice they should be eating carbohydrate rich foods like fruit or whole grain pretzels and following practice foods should contain carbohydrates as well as protein. An example of this is chocolate milk.
Soccer is an endurance sport (for most of the players on the field) where there is a lot of running and quick movements. Studies have shown that soccer players make on average 150-250 quick bursts throughout a game, this is similar to sports like long-distance cycling, hockey and basketball.
As a result, soccer players require increased amounts of carbohydrates, compared to many other sports in order to fuel their endurance. In addition they need protein to restore the muscles they use as well vitamins and minerals that are used or sweated out during training and games.
It is estimated over 1500 calories are burned during a soccer game; therefore compared to a non-athlete, soccer players need to consume many more calories per day in order to keep their body fueled and meet all of their nutrient requirements. Hydration is another aspect of proper nutrition that shouldn’t be neglected. Always keep a water bottle with you and drink even when you are not thirsty.
Explain some of the differences between boy’s nutritional needs versus girls? How do the needs change as they get older?
Males and females are very different. Up until the age of eight, most nutritional needs for boys and girls are about the same, however at nine years old they begin to change due to different rates of development.
Boys have higher calorie needs because they have more lean body mass, or muscle. Boys will have higher protein needs because they tend to weigh more than females.
Females need to pay attention to make sure they are eating enough, as they get older. Iron and calcium are also two major nutrients that females tend to be deficient in and therefore should be emphasized in order to make sure they are getting enough. By the age of 19 most females will have reached their peak bone density, which is one reason that they need to make sure they are getting enough calcium.
Next week, Kelly will talk about how best to prepare for game day, dispel some nutritional misnomers and explain what types of things she is doing for Sting. If you have any questions for Kelly, please ask in the comments below and Kelly will try to answer.