CL sat down with Jami Mascari, Sports Dietitian for the LSU Tigers, to talk about her experience with nutrition and how she fuels her tiger athletes to “hunt” at the optimum level.
CL: What prompted you to become a dietitian?
Mascari: When I was a senior in high school, I was beginning to train for LSU cheerleading tryouts. My former cheerleading coach brought me to see a dietitian at a local fitness center so she could help me streamline my diet and make sure I was eating enough and eating the right foods in order to carry out my skills successfully. I owe my career to this particular dietitian. She talked to me in a way that made me realize that proper diet and nutrition is just as important as practice and workouts. From that day on, my dream was to help athletes and other active people fuel their bodies correctly in order to get the most from their practices and workouts. I ended up making the LSU cheerleading team, cheered for 4 healthy years, and graduated with a degree in dietetics. All of the interactions I had with the athletes at LSU further encouraged me to pursue a career in sports nutrition.
CL: What LSU teams do you work with?
Mascari: I work with all of the LSU athletic teams, both male and female. I make sure that every individual team and every individual student-athlete has the opportunity to receive as much nutrition education and advice as possible during their time here at LSU.
CL: What is a typical day like for you?
Mascari: Some of the common responsibilities include: team nutrition seminars, one-on-one nutrition consults, meeting with team athletic trainers and/or doctors, placing orders for a variety of food items such as fruit, bars, and sports beverages, planning menus for teams who are traveling that week, planning pre-game meals and mid-game fueling stations, making hand made trail mix for the athletes, measuring athletes’ body composition, meeting with team coaches and strength coaches, attending team practices and assisting with mid-practice fueling, observing team workouts, attending the grocery with the athletes, working with the dining hall staff and attending the athletic training table meal to help the athletes build healthy plates.
CL: Do you give different teams different nutritional advice?
Mascari: The general message I give to each team is very similar; however, I make sure to tailor it to each sport as well as each individual. For example, I encourage complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, heart-healthy fats, and hydration to ALL athletes. But when it comes down to portions, timing of food intake, macronutrient breakdown of total calories, etc., that’s when I start modifying it for the different teams.
CL: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their diet?
Mascari: My advice is to start slow and make gradual changes. Set small, achievable goals so that you do not become discouraged if you fail to meet it. Avoid getting caught up in all of the “fad diets” and focus on wholesome foods in healthy portions…and of course getting in that exercise. You need to find a regimen that works for you. Once you find that happy medium, sticking to your healthy diet is a “piece of cake.”