WEEK OF THE DIETITIAN: DAY 1
This week is the week of the dietitian. Every day for the next 3 days we will post an interesting article about the work of our dieticians Jonas Melis and Lander Van Genechten in the sports world. Today, it’s mainly about basic nutrition.
How did you end up here as a dietician?
There was a vacancy for a dietician/cook at KVC Westerlo. We filled it as students through an internship until December. Then we immediately got a permanent contract.
What do you think is the importance of a (sports) dietician?
The importance of the right diet for performance is becoming increasingly clear nowadays. As a dietician you help the club optimise performance by focusing on nutrition, drinks and supplements. In 1B there are only a few clubs that work with a permanent dietician, this is one of the ways to distinguish yourself as a club. As a dietician, you can perhaps make the whole group just that 1% better, get a player match fit faster after an injury or even reduce the number of injuries over a season. As physiotherapists, doctors and physical coaches also have this goal and each play their part in it, we as dieticians also contribute.
What do you do in concrete terms?
It often starts with proper information and especially debunking myths. Nowadays, there is an overload of information on the new miracle diets, superfoods and magic pills. We do not sell anything and we are not looking for clicks, likes or shares. Our story is a lot less black and white or sensational and sometimes it is difficult to convince someone of such a story.
So how do you approach it?
We try to put science-based advice into practice. You can know the perfect nutrition and supplementation schedule for a player, but if he doesn’t take it, it doesn’t make sense.
We try to make it as easy as possible for the players to make the best choice when it comes to nutrition. For example, here at the club we work with a buffet from which the players can choose. In the run-up to the match, we adjust the selection so that the players get more energy in the form of carbohydrates. After the match, the focus is more on recovery. We offer them a recovery shake with everything they need at that moment. Then we also adjust our menu to more ‘recovery food’. In this way, it is as easy as possible for the player to make the right nutritional choice. There are many more examples to help players perform better, recover and stay healthy. On top of that, every day you have the logistics, administration and cooking for a group of about 40 people according to these principles.
Do you have any tips for the athletes among us?
Always take care of the healthy basic food first. This is important for everyone, from top athletes to amateurs. Then you can start looking at sports-specific nutrition, which we usually only start doing with more fanatical athletes. Finally, there are the supplements that come in when small margins make a difference.
Maybe you can tell us more about this tomorrow?
I would love to!