Sodexo and athletes don’t mix

Nutrition is an important concern for students, but for student athletes, this concern is doubled. Because of their increased physical activity, student athletes need greater amounts of nutrients in their diets — nutrition the dining halls alone might not be able to provide them.

The average college student needs about 0.8 grams of protein in their diet for every kilogram — or 2.2 pounds — they weigh, but dietary requirements can vary from athlete to athlete. The NCAA increases the protein recommendation to 1.2-1.4 grams per kilogram for endurance athletes, and 1.6-1.8 grams for athletes in strength training. The protein intake of a 180-pound student of average physical activity and a strength training athlete of the same weight is substantially different. The average student only needs about 66 grams of protein, but the athlete requires up to 148 grams — more than twice that amount. The NCAA nutrition guidelines call for a vastly increased protein intake, but Truman’s dining halls might not comply with this necessity.

Sodexo, Truman’s food supplier, serves an array of different foods, but students often complain about the food’s nutritional value. For example, on a given day the dining halls might serve bacon, egg and cheese biscuits for breakfast, beef fajitas for lunch and barbecue beef brisket at dinner. If a student eats each of these dishes, including the vegetables accompanying the meal, they will take in 64 grams of protein for the day, according to Sodexo’s online nutrition calculator. Although 64 grams might be enough for the typical student, a student athlete needs about twice that much. This is why many athletes take protein supplements — the dining halls cannot keep up with their active lifestyle without athletes having to overeat to reach the amount of protein they need to replenish their bodies.

If more protein were in Sodexo’s food, athletes could forego stocking up on whey protein, which is not harmful but adds another step to an athlete’s routine that can be replaced by a proper diet. As things are now, the dining halls do not provide athletes enough protein in each entree. Adding more protein to every entree could be harmful to the students who don’t need as much, but what if, rather than requiring it in every meal, Sodexo had a high-protein food option?

If Sodexo added a high-protein section for student athletes in the dining halls, it would go a long way toward making their dietary regimens more manageable.