Herbalife is the sports nutrition and presenting partner for the LA Galaxy. Herbalife Dietitians work closely with the LA Galaxy technical staff to make sure we are maximizing their nutrition to support performance goals.
Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background.
My name is Erica Capellino and this is my third season with Herbalife Nutrition and LA Galaxy as a Sports Dietitian. I am also Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist who focuses on sports, performance, and longevity nutrition. I received a Master of Science in Nutrition, Healthspan & Longevity, a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology with an emphasis in Applied Physiology, and a Minor in Sports Media Studies from the University of Southern California.
What inspired you to begin working in professional sports and what was your pathway to working with LA Galaxy?
As a student-athlete, I was team captain of the Women’s Track & Field and Cross Country teams at USC. When not competing for my alma mater, I was a Sports Nutrition Intern for the athletic department working with all of the varsity sports at USC*, managing the Fueling Station and promoting nutrition for both student and athlete lifestyles. Additionally, I was a product expert and dietitian at L-Nutra, Inc, providing healthcare professionals and patients with education on the research behind ProLon: The Fasting Mimicking & Enhancing Diet.
Upon graduating from USC, I worked in Performance Nutrition with the Los Angeles Rams, implementing and expanding nutrition-related sports science to enhance performance and recovery. I then became the first full-time Team Dietitian for the Los Angeles Chargers. In ensuring nutrition consistency and integrity at home and on the road, I coordinated nutrition for international NFL games in London and Mexico City. I also worked as a dietitian with the United States Olympic Committee* and Team USA, providing optimal training, recovery, and nutrition environments in national and international Olympic Games for both the Men’s and Women’s National Volleyball Teams*.
I’ve always embraced a life of sports, performance, nutrition, sports science, and education. Having been in professional sports (different football) and in the same stadium, I saw Herbalife and LA Galaxy are all of these and so much more. From developmental Academy Teams all the way through the professional and high-performance levels of the First Team, I’ve been able to implement not only sports nutrition but also my passions on and off the field.
Can you please describe what a typical day in the life of Sports Performance Nutrition looks like?
Every day is a new and different day depending on all of the Teams (First Team, GII, Academy Teams). We usually set the tone and vibes for the day with a to-do list first setting up the Player and Dining Lounges for success, including stocking food, fuel and hydration, decorating individual player lockers with personalized pre-training and during-training needs, any performance testing needed, overseeing Training Table breakfast and of course, quality service with a smile. During training, Nutrition provides on-field fuel and hydration support. Following, we decorate individual player lockers with personalized post-training training needs including recovery shakes and supplementation. After training, the focus shifts to recovery and refilling including overseeing Training Table lunch, any nutrition counseling needed, and topping off any food, fuel, and hydration in the Lounges or office spaces (food everywhere!). The end of the day wraps up with any meetings, prep work, dedicated time for projects, school/nutrition program curriculums, tours, team talks, administration work, and finally, the to-do list for the future. Throughout the day, I also serve as the lead preceptor and mentor for Dietetic Interns from various schools fulfilling graduation requirements to become a certified Registered Dietitian and hopefully Sports Dietitian. Fun and good vibes all day!
Why is your role crucial for the team’s success?
My primary role is to feed and fuel all of the LA Galaxy Teams through performance nutrition and promote personalized longevity on and off the field. From Training Table meals and menus where food is homegrown in the Galaxy Garden, designed and prepared by our in house Chef and staff, to high-performance foodservice, personalized and sport specific pre-, during, and post-training fuel & supplementation, performance testing (body composition, hydration, lab/blood work), school food/nutrition programs, community and international nutrition education, and music in the Player and Dining Lounges… Nutrition at LA Galaxy is all the food, drink, and vibes here.
What is your favorite part about your role?
Growing up in a large Italian family, always a part of a sports team and always playing or listening to music, I value how food and music bring everyone together. Food can be such an experience and mean so many things so I love to bring the vibes. It’s what you eat, what you listen to, what you watch, what you read, and the people you surround yourself with. You can feed your body in so many ways, physically, emotionally, spiritually.
One of my favorite things I do as a Sports Dietitian is taking science and making it cool. In other words, transforming scientifically backed nutrition research into actionable, age- and sport-specific (to soccer) information, habits, or behaviors. This is important and ensures a solid foundation of not only sports nutrition but also building healthy and sustainable lifestyles.
What is the most challenging part about your role and how do you respond to it?
Everyone is their own expert when it comes to food and nutrition. I love the challenge of better understanding team visions or individual perspectives whether it’s gameday routines, food preferences, or how nutrition fits into one’s specific department or life best. I then make this come to life while optimizing food/nutrition/sport-specific needs with my own knowledge and touch. We are also constantly in the moment, adapting and responding to whatever the day and sports bring. We all eat!
Do you have a nutrition or food philosophy?
After having studied and lived abroad in Italy, I took a keen interest to the Blue Zones: 5 regions of the world where people live the longest and healthiest. Since, my food and nutrition philosophy has focused on longevity on and off the field; living longer and better through a simple balance of good health habits and social engagement. Areas of emphasis include physical activity, life purpose, stress reduction, energy intake, plant-based foods, spirituality, family, and social life. I also believe in everything in moderation including moderation.
Describe your favorite meal you’ve ever had.
Cheese board! Any snack board really… I love the creativity in the assembly and presentation of food (food art!).
What is your favorite Herbalife24® product and why?
CR7 Drive… it’s so versatile in terms of performance benefits from enhanced hydration to quick muscle and brain fuel, and sustained energy levels. CR7 Drive tastes amazing all day mixed with water or juice, as a slushie or smoothie, and in more recipes coming soon!
Do you have any advice for anybody pursuing a job as a Sports Performance Dietitian in professional sports?
Always go for it. Be confident in yourself and what you bring to the table, but also keep the suggestion jar open. You never know what they are looking for or how you may be able to offer support. Sometimes just being present, being you (letting your personality shine), or building a personal relationship will not only help you understand more about someone but may also leave a bigger impact than you think especially with nutrition, habits, beliefs, lifestyles, etc.
Can you leave us with 3 fun facts about yourself?
- I’ve danced and performed competitively since I was 3 years old! I studied under artistic directors and choreographers with American Ballet Theater, the University of California, Dance Peninsula Ballet USC, and the University of California, Santa Barbara.
- I grew up on an apple orchard in Santa Ynez Valley with most of our food homegrown and handmade from juices and jams to sourdough breads and pastas. My favorite hobbies are still cooking and upcycle crafting.
- Always on the go professionally or personally, I love to travel and explore new places, environments, food, cuisines, events, and cultures, while embracing anything local or historical that place is known for along the way. I have too many favorite places, but Italy will always be special and I am actually in the process of obtaining Italian citizenship!
*Herbalife is not affiliated with the NFL, any of the above-mentioned college or professional football teams, or Olympic organizations.