Calories are the fuel athletes use to power their bodies, similar to putting gasoline in a car.
Good calories can propel athletes to compete at optimal levels; consuming bad calories is like putting low-octane gas in a high-octane vehicle. Performance will be impaired.
Jill Joseph, the sports nutritionist at Penn Athletics, provides nutritional education and individual counseling to more than 900 student-athletes across 33 teams, helping players fuel and recover, and ensuring that they are healthy and able to play.
On any given day, she can be found giving individual counseling sessions, doing team talks, or assisting freshmen in devising an eating and training schedule. She serves athletes with medical nutritional needs, creates nutritional plans for athletes returning from injury, and instructs athletes on how to buy healthy groceries and cook healthy meals. She also gives tours showing how to eat healthy in dining halls, and works with coaches on travel meals, locker room snacks, halftime fueling, and hydration protocols.
Joseph joined Penn in September 2016 from the University of Louisville, where she served as the assistant director of performance nutrition. She says her interest in nutrition was only a hobby until she attended graduate school at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she received her master’s degree in nutrition in 2011.
“Athletes demand so much of their bodies and they’re working so much, training three, four hours a day,” she says. “I just became really interested in the additional nutrition that they would need to be able to support that kind of work.”
Penn Today sat down with Joseph in her office inside Franklin Field to talk good and bad nutrition, eating healthy while in college and away for the summer, foods athletes should avoid, vegan living, and general nutrition advice for all.