Assistant Performance Nutrition Coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles, Stephanie Coppola, MS, RDN, LDN, gave us a peek into how the Eagles fuel for the season – and how the entire organization prioritizes nutrition.
“I really enjoy how professional the players are when it comes to their nutrition,” says Coppola. “It’s great that our program puts a strong emphasis on proper nutrition and hydration.”
Coppola explained that the focus on nutrition has been supported from the beginning by Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie, as well as the head coach and other key members of the organization.
“As professional athletes, it is their job to stay healthy and play their best, so I really enjoy getting to work with players who take that seriously,” says Coppola.
Coppola also credits the culinary team at the Eagles for helping the players stay on top of their game.
“The culinary team does an amazing job providing the best quality of food for our players,” said Coppola. “They do a fantastic job collaborating with the other dietitians and myself to make sure our players are getting what they need depending on their activity schedule – and I know they love the food.”
Coppola says that a favorite meal for the team is their weekly patio grill night – a time when the players get a chance to try different game meats (like venison) and fish or shellfish options.
“It allows everyone to try a new type of protein that they might not have had before,” explains Coppola.
And of course, dairy plays an important role in the team’s nutrition too – from options at the fuel station such as Greek yogurt, to snacks and recovery shakes made with milk.
“Dairy plays an important role in our team’s diet on a day-to-day basis,” says Coppola.
When it comes to snacks, Coppola also works to make sure the things available at training are also at local grocery stores so the players can find it themselves outside of training. We have tried all kinds of snacks ranging from cottage cheese, which is high in protein, to cauliflower puffs to cotton candy grapes. We try to incorporate all types of healthy snacks to fit a variety of different needs.
“I always use ingredients and products from the local grocery stores so there are items the players can purchase on their own.”
Coppola’s advice for non-elite athletes is to stay focused on fueling properly before and after physical activity – from workouts to games or competitions:
“Try to make a performance plate that consists of whole grains, fruits/veggies, protein and dairy based on intensity and duration of physical activity for the day. The more activity there is, the more your pre-activity plate should consist of carbohydrates. This will be the main fuel system to make sure your “gas tank” is filled up to get you through! Also, make sure to have a proper recovery meal or shake with the 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein to help muscles repair and rebuild as well as refill your carbohydrate stores for the rest of the day.”