Sushi is a staple and processed foods are out of the picture, says team nutritionist Meg Mangano
By Evan Henerson
When a player for the Los Angeles Clippers makes a major change in his diet or gets more serious about his nutritional regiment, chances are he’s been “Meg-d.”
For the past six seasons, Meg Mangano has been a key member of the medical team at the L.A. Clippers Training Center in Playa Vista, developing nutrition plans and working with individual players to help them feel and perform at their best.
A sports dietician and certified functional nutritionist, Mangano is also a consultant with the U.S. Olympic Committee and works in private practice with clients through her company, Rejoov Wellness.
We caught up with the Rejoovinator at a local coffeehouse.
Do athletes and non-athletes eat differently?
Yes, in the sense that, for athletes, it’s based around the energy and the performance demands of their sport. I look at sports nutrition as a three-step process. The first step is your everyday nutrition and hydration, what you’re drinking and when, and how it’s right for your body. That applies to everybody
in the population. The second step is sports nutrition in performance and recovery — your pre-, during and post- workout. That’s specific to the athlete, and it’s all based around timing and the food that’s tolerated, the right amount of fluids and the recovery based on each individual. The third step is competition day. That’s where we’re working with athletes on what they’re eating and when. By then, they should know what food they tolerate and the timing of their meals leading up to their specific event or game.
Once a plan is in place, how easy is it to maintain it?
That depends on where each athlete is, where they want to go and what they’re willing to put towards it. One of the first goals I always start with is hydration because I think it’s the least impactful, the least threatening and the easiest to change. There are tools around remembering to hydrate and checking on your hydration status that help when it comes to what I call your fueling plan.
Can you offer some general nutritional tips?
Always start with hydration. Your body is made up of over 65% water. Your muscles and your brain are over 75% water, so it affects everything bringing oxygen in, and waste out. So make sure you’re hydrating well with water early and often throughout the day. Second would be to get back to basics, finding time to get back into the kitchen and consuming less processed foods as much as possible. I think the more we can take time and prepare food in our house, the better off we’re going to be. Always build your meals around vegetables and add in the other macro nutrients like proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats.
What sort of meals do Los Angeles Clippers players typically eat?
A go-to favorite for most of the guys is sushi. We make sure we can balance that and get the right types of food and selections in there. Having high-quality pasta dishes is always a staple, especially for pre-game meals. Usually any type of rice and chicken dish is good too.
Are there any fitness and nutritional trends we should be looking for coming down the pike?
Something really great coming up more and more is the importance of gut health and the balance of your good and bad bacteria, and how that relates to your immunity and your overall health. It all kind of ties together when you think about hydration, eating less processed foods and having a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. All of those help to create a healthier gut, too.
Learn more about Meg Mangano at rejoovwellness.com.