Houston Texans, Sports Dietitian

Next Level Podcast with Host Tavis Piattoly, MS, RD, LD

Roberta H. Anding- Podcast

Roberta H. Anding, M.S., R.D./L.D., C.D.E., C.S.S.D.
Sports Dietitian with 27 years of experience providing clinical and sports nutrition services at Texas Children's Hospital and the Houston, Texans of the NFL.

Roberta Anding
Roberta is a Sports Dietitian with 27 years of experience providing clinical and sports nutrition services at Texas Children's Hospital and the Houston Texans of the NFL. Roberta discusses her background, how she first got into the field of Sports Nutrition, her opinion on dietary supplements, and some ways to improve athletic performance in professional and high school athletes.

Podcast Notes:

  1. Key tips to improve athletic performance
  2. Role models in professional sports who follow sports nutrition principles
  3. Sports supplement use among athletes
  4. Key habits for the high school athlete to improve performance

Links and Resources

Podcast Transcript

0:00 The Next Level Podcast Intro and Welcome by Tavis Piattoly

1:40 Roberta Anding Background and why she wanted to become a sports dietitian 

  • Primary role as the Director of Sports Nutrition at Texas Children’s Hospital 
  • Secondary role as the sports Dietitian for the Houston Texans, Houston astros, Rice University Owls, Houston Ballet 
  • Provide sports nutrition services to an NBA player. Later on received a call from a friend regarding a contract with Houston Texans and hasn’t looked back  

3:55 What do your day-to-day responsibilities look like? 

  • Writes all menus, takes care of all plane and hotel food 
  • Assists players with leaning down, adding muscle (if that’s the goal), and to treat injuries. Having injury protocols to help players return to play post-injury is really important 
  • Sitting down with players and families, going to the grocery store and learning how to read and label, and assist players with cooking skills 

7:13 What are the key tips to improve athletic performance?

  • These things are so simple, but are often overlooked 
  • Hydration, including monitoring this. Monitoring hydration could include taking pre and post practice weights to determine how much sweat was lossed, drinking throughout the day, and including fruits and vegetables which is the fluid that you chew. This is really important especially when you live in a hot and humid climate. 
  • For high school athletes, are you fueling throughout the day? Breakfast is often hard for high school athletes to get in. I suggest developing a grab and go breakfast, so you aren’t waiting on food to cook. A chicken sandwich, leftovers from the night before, peanut butter sandwich with fruit, a yogurt drink that you can drink on the way out the door. In addition to this, fueling throughout the day with multiple meals and snacks is critical. 
  • These two things back to back can really make a difference 

10:15 Who are role models in professional sports who follow sports nutrition principles? 

  • James Casey played tight end/fullback for the Texans. I had James in class (at Rice University). James finished his degree at Rice, came into the Texans, and in combination with his work ethic the way he fueled and the strategies he had that took him from someone who wasn't on everybody’s top 10 list of draft picks to someone who had a starting role. He’s now playing for the Eagles 
  • This is a guy who had to work hard at everything he did and will now have a long successful career in the NFL
  • Kevin Walter who is now a wide receiver for the Tennessee titans. Kevin has a similar story as James. He was always considered to be a journeyman but has been able to play in the league almost 10 years because he flat out takes care of himself. He would always ask questions and take extra initiative. He didn’t lose any muscle as he got older because he just worked and fueled 
  • JJ Watts, our amazing defensive player as well. JJ Watts is a really big guy. He came in and really does an amazing job of fueling himself and in our community he is really an amazing role model. 

15:13 Can you go into detail regarding supplement use among athletes? What education protocols do you have in place to make sure your players don’t test positive for a banned substance? 

  • The more they know the less likely they are to use a supplement. The challenge is that everyone is looking for an edge and wants to be the best at what they are doing. When you look at supplements first and food second that is a little backwards. 
  • Supplement contamination is becoming more and more of an issue. It's not a one in a million change this is becoming an epidemic. The educational protocol that we have is really called NSF Certified for Sport. The problem is that just because something is NSF certified for sport does not mean it is going to work, it just means you won’t have a positive drug test. 
  • The biggest issue with supplements is not just that they are clean, but are they effective? 
  • We had a young man at Texas Children's Hospital who ended up on the liver transplant list from a dietary supplement that he took. 
  • For young athletes that are looking for that edge, work hard, hydrate well, fuel well, and supplementation can follow as the icing on the cake. You’ve got to have all the foundational pieces before you start looking to make things better and this is our protocol. 
  • The NFL has tried desperately to limit the amount of dietary supplements that teams can provide in an effort to keep players clean, safe and legal. 

21:32 Are there any supplements that you do recommend that your athletes utilize? What are some things you may recommend after the diet is good? 

  • It depends on the age because some supplements that we do know that work the American Academy of Pediatrics will say not to use under the age of 18. 
  • If you look at the bulk of the research creatine works. Especially with short bursts, so if you’re running the 100. It can help you to maximize your workout in the weight room by allowing you to do one more rep. Creatine can help athletes really get the most out of their training. 
  • The other thing that is gaining some popularity is beetroot juice concentrate. Beetroot juice concentrate functions in a similar capacity as NO2 Explode. NO2 Explode contains Arginine, but Arginine is in lots of foods. Beetroot juice contains nitrates, which is converted to nitric oxide in the body, which improves oxygen delivery to the tissues and can help people run a little longer. I’ve had great success with short distance sprinters and long distance guys. I made sure to put beetroot juice on the plane when the Texans played in Denver because the players were going from sea level to altitude, so helping with the oxygen delivery is important. 
  • Vitamin D deficiency has been linked with poor athletic performance and the inability to develop strength. In a study we did in Houston Texas, we found that if you were white the likelihood of you being vitamin D deficient was small, but if you were African American the prevalence was about 3%. 
  • The icing on the cake are fish oil for inflammation, and a good multivitamin particularly for folks who are still growing. I recommend a multivitamin with iron for female athletes as well as for the guys still in high school. 

26:27 What are some other key habits for the high school athlete to improve performance? 

  • There are a couple things including: getting adequate sleep (8-10 hours of sleep per night). 6-7 hours of sleep is not enough for restorative sleep. A study at Stanford found that athletes who were sleep deprived had a 16% reduction in athletic performance. 
  • Alcohol. Don’t drink and then try to train. Alcohol increases time to recovery, and decreases effectiveness of lift. If you are trying to maximize performance you need to look at alcohol, and this extends into college and the pros. 

29:10 Closing Remarks by Tavis Piattoly

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