Behind the scenes: Baylor sports nutrition

Junior safety Jarrod Koym endulges in the fruit bar at the Beauchamp Athletic Nutrition Center on Wednesday. Photo Credit: Liesje Powers

Without exercising, student athletes would not be able to perform to their maximum potential. However, in order for them to get the energy to perform, the student-athletes must concentrate on one of the most important factor of athletics: nutrition.

Jana Heitmeyer, director of performance nutrition, is responsible for nutrition education, body composition analysis and diet analysis for all Baylor student-athletes.

“At the core, it’s all about making the student-athletes more successful,” Heitmeyer said. “It changes every day. I would say it’s best for someone who cannot sit still. You deal with all the different athletes and all the different sports.”

Heitmeyer said the most rewarding part of her job is when “people get it.”

“It’s really fun to work with people who have an issue — whether it’s that they have no energy or if they need to lose or gain weight,” Heitmeyer said. “For the light bulb to go off and to see them reap the benefits in their performance is the most rewarding part of my job.”

Heitmeyer was a gymnast in college herself, and said she wishes that she was told what she is currently preaching to Baylor’s student athletes.

Heightmeyer said each sport is different and requires different nutritional requirements, but every sport at Baylor revolves around a core acronym: BEAST.

“Everything in our program revolves around ‘the BEAST,” Heightmeyer said. “This means; Breakfast, Eat fruits and vegetables, Always hydrate, Sleep and recover, and the T is ‘think lean protein.’ We put this in because everybody needs to do this.”

Although the BEAST is used for all sports, it changes based on each person and sport. “You take these basics and adjust them to a particular athlete and sport,” Heightmeyer said. “Some people have time between every bat, some people are running up and down the court for 30 minutes straight, so then it becomes much more individualized.”

Kiara Nowlin, senior acrobatics and tumbling athlete, nutrition is very important in her sport.

“Every day we break our bodies down, so this nutrition is so important in order to recover and perform well and be successful in our sport,” Nowlin said.

Nowlin said that it is not easy to incorporate nutrition as a full-time student-athlete.

“Time management is the hardest,” Nowlin said. “It’s really hard to go from class straight to practice, and trying to find something to eat. We aren’t normal students, so we have to be more conscious of what we eat, so the snack and meal choices are harder. We have to make sure we have that balance of healthy and non-healthy food.”

Sophomore midfielder Kennedy Brown said nutrition is vital in her athletic performance.

“Nutrition plays a key part in any athlete’s development,” Brown said. “You need to know what foods will recover you, give you energy and help you compete at the highest level possible.”

Heitmeyer said that nutrition is the most important part of being an athlete.

“Everything that athletes do is tearing down their body,” Heitmeyer said. “The only thing that can repair their bodies is food, so the only way to build things back up is by eating.”