As a sports dietitian for Oregon State Athletics, College of Public Health and Human Sciences alumna Stasi Kasianchuk, MS ’11, knows that athletes need more than a rigorous training regimen to gain peak performance on the field.
To ensure Oregon State’s athletes are fueling their bodies with the most nutritious foods, Stasi creates personalized meal plans based on sport, position, gender, body composition and weight.
“Optimal nutrition not only supports the health of the student athlete, but it gives them a competitive advantage,” she says. “Given the demands of training student athletes face, it is critical for them to consume the necessary nutrients to optimize their training and performance. My goal is to help them experience the power of whole food nutrition to accomplish this.”
She also offers one-on-one nutrition consultations and teaches the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle off campus.
“Optimal nutrition not only supports the health of the student athlete, but it gives them a competitive advantage.”
“Some athletes need more extensive plans than others, but ultimately I account for the needs of their sport and position, training phase and current body composition, and that’s usually the easy part,” she says. “The challenging, but more realistic side of it all – and what isn’t in a textbook – is taking into account food preferences, previous exposure/experiences with food, priorities, current resources such as time and finances, and ultimately the athlete’s motivating factors.”
“College, especially graduate school, helped me to better understand and appreciate the research process and all it takes to learn what is going on in the human body,” she says. “Reading, interpreting and critically thinking about research takes practice and experience. Through my education, I was fortunate to receive a strong foundation in developing these skills, which I continue to build on daily.”
Knowing that good nutrition goes beyond what student athletes consume at Oregon State’s Performance Table, Stasi takes teams grocery shopping to give them strategies for buying healthy foods on a budget and is partnering with the college’s Moore Family Center for Whole Grain Foods, Nutrition and Preventive Health to conduct cooking classes.
“Given the demands of training student athletes face, it is critical for them to consume the necessary nutrients to optimize their training and performance.”
“Having previously worked on the academic side at OSU, I am aware of the many resources available, and I wanted to develop more collaborative relationships,” says Stasi, who has held roles including Lifetime Fitness for Health Program co-director, Ecampus instructor and Faculty Staff Fitness exercise instructor. “Providing cooking classes for three of our sports teams so far – women’s basketball, men’s soccer and women’s swimming – through the Moore Family Center is a great start.”
Beginning her new role part time in 2013 and full time in July 2014, Stasi has already noticed positive changes in the student athletes she works with.
“Changes in weight – gain or loss – and body composition are often the most immediate feedback athletes will describe,” she says. “But the more rewarding results for me are when an athlete tells me how much better they feel on a daily basis, how they discovered they like foods they never knew about or noticed an increase in confidence when they are able to plan and prepare healthy meals and snacks on their own.
“I want student athletes to recognize the power whole foods have in optimizing their athletic and academic performance, and as a result develop positive health habits and behaviors, which will benefit them for the rest of their lives.”