Herbalife is the sports nutrition and presenting partner for the LA Galaxy. Herbalife Sports Dietitians work closely with the LA Galaxy technical staff to make sure we are maximizing their nutrition to support performance goals.
Have you ever wondered what a day in the life of a sports dietitian looks like?
While every day varies, there are a few broad categories that encompass how sports registered dietitians/registered dietitian nutritionists (RDs/RDNs) fit into the multidisciplinary team supporting the athletes on a daily basis, including providing personalized nutrition for the athletes, foodservice and menu development, and nutrition education.
Dietitians are licensed nutrition professionals who undergo 6+ years of rigorous schooling and supervised practice training. Becoming a dietitian requires graduating from a nationally accredited program in Nutrition, completing a Master’s degree and a 1000+ hour dietetic internship, and passing a national board exam. The dietetic internship provides exposure and supervised practice in areas including hospital inpatient nutrition and medical nutrition therapy, foodservice management, community nutrition and nutrition education, and usually includes a specialty or elective rotation (like sports nutrition!).
Personalized Nutrition and Counseling
Every athlete has different nutrition and performance goals, so the individualization of nutrition protocols for each player is one of the most vital aspects of the role.
Each player has their own fueling preferences for pre-, intra-, and post-training/matches, which can also vary between training days and gamedays. Keeping player preferences in an organized spreadsheet facilitates communication between the dietitians to ensure each athlete is receiving their requests on a daily basis, and that any updated requests are easily accommodated. LA Galaxy utilizes Herbalife24® products to fuel the players.
Further, regular analysis of body composition and hydration testing results allow us to tweak nutrition plans and daily hydration beverages to better support the players in reaching their performance goals. Foundational nutrition concepts that are often reviewed include energy balance along with how to build a performance plate, and how to tweak a performance plate to match the day’s training load to ensure adequate fueling and recovery.
The initiation of, or any changes in, nutrition plans involve one-on-one counseling. Sports dietitians will counsel on an as-needed basis to both athletes and staff, using evidence-based guidelines that are founded in a combination of cutting-edge research and clinical expertise. Any potential nutrition obstacles are assessed for, including whether or not performance supplementation is needed, or whether a player has adjusted needs for current player status and return-to-play.
Dietary supplements are provided on a daily basis dependent on each person’s bloodwork. The sports dietitians analyze labs and determine which supplements to administer to match each player’s individual needs throughout the season, as bloodwork is typically drawn pre-, during, and post-season for any necessary adjustments. Needs change over time and research-backed supplementation protocols are adjusted when warranted. Finally, sports dietitians are the key nutrition experts legally able to provide medical nutrition therapy to players in order to help treat and manage any medical conditions.
Overall, the primary goals of sports dietitians are to support the players development as athletes, help to optimize performance through nutrition, and support long-term health.
Menu Development and Foodservice Management
At LA Galaxy, the sports dietitians work directly with the players to determine what their food preferences are in order to provide menus that the athletes will enjoy. Allergies, favorite cultural foods, likes, and dislikes are all logged and communicated to the team’s chef to ensure daily participation and satisfaction with our Training Table. On the road, sports dietitians are responsible for coordinating and managing any and all catering and hotel banquet orders. Herbalife24® products are used throughout many of our Training Table recipes, and are available for daily use both at home and on the road.
Themed menus containing healthy, nutritious, and delicious foods are available for breakfast (pre-training) and lunch (post-training) at our Training Table each day at the stadium. Direct feedback is critical and appreciated, as this helps us to provide the best menus for our athletes and staff. Sports dietitians work hand-in-hand with the team chef to create menus that everyone can enjoy and which support both wellness and athletic performance.
In the Galaxy/Herbalife Lounge at Dignity Health Sports Park, we have created a fun and vibrant atmosphere with music and good vibes. This is where the athletes and staff can enjoy snacks, coffee, and other beverages, including a delicious, slushed ice beverage we make with Herbalife24® CR7 Drive. The Galaxy Lounge is homebase for Nutrition, allowing us to be present for any and all player requests, nutrition conversations, and fist-bumps. We oversee budgeting and manage inventory to ensure we always have everything we need to best support the athletes.
Nutrition Education and Team Talks
Nutrition education provides the foundation for elite performance. As needed, sports dietitians host Team Talks and create evidence-based nutrition education content to overview specific topics in which the athletes may need additional support.
At LA Galaxy, we provide nutrition education beginning with the youngest players in the Academy all the way up to the First Team, along with the local community of all ages who attend Galaxy soccer camps. These sessions can vary from formal presentations to informal Team Talks on the field, in the training room, or in the players’ lounge. The Academy receives Enrichment sessions multiple times per month as part of their educational curriculum, while Los Dos and the First Team are given education as needed and on a more frequent one-on-one basis.
LA Galaxy Nutrition also hosts a Sports Nutrition Internship Program where dietetic interns who are interested in sports are able to complete internship rotations, fulfill their competencies needed to become Registered Dietitians (RDs), have first-hand experience working with athletes and sports programs, assisting sports dietitians, and obtain invaluable mentorship to help them to succeed in their future careers.
Overall, sports RDs serve as the primary nutrition resource to every person who is part of the club, and we have an open-door policy to foster open communication and coordination between members of the multidisciplinary sports science team, coaches, and athletes.