Fuel, train, and dominate is the driving philosophy for student athletes at Washington State University.

“Take care of your body, fuel it with the best foods available,” says WSU sports nutrition coordinator Lindsay Brown. “You’ll be able to train at your maximum level and reduce risk of injury. Then you’ll be able to dominate your competition.”

To keep student athletes going strong, they receive free, healthy food at the Gray W Legends Lounge dining room located in the new Cougar Football Complex building through a program called Cougar Express, and, for pre- and post-workout fueling, the Hubs located in the Bohler and Cougar Football Complex weight rooms.

They won’t find Snickers bars and pop there. “We are trying to decrease the consumption of pre-packaged items that have a lot of preservatives and are less nutrient dense,” says Brown. “We make our own hummus dip. We do granola-yogurt parfaits with high-protein Greek yogurt. We bake our own granola bars and provide those for our athletes.”

Brown says WSU Athletics wants to define what “fuel” means, not just for the students’ training, but in their daily lives. That might mean snack packs with vegetables, a hard-boiled egg, and cheese, or it might mean a well-balanced meal at the new dining facility overlooking the football field.

“We’re here to enhance performance now for our student athletes, but the broader picture is that what we’re teaching the athletes will actually enhance their life and well-being,” she says.

That attitude, strongly advocated by WSU Athletic Director Bill Moos ’73, doesn’t just appeal to the students currently at WSU; it helps with prospective student athletes. “I think the parents are the most excited during recruiting trips. They know that their child is going to have access to good quality food,” says Brown. It helps that nutritious foods are free, a rare benefit among collegiate athletic programs.

A certified specialist in sports nutrition and a registered dietitian, Brown got into nutrition as a high school athlete in track, cross country, basketball, cheerleading, and twirling. After she got her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Oklahoma State University, she went to work at a Colorado hospital because there were only about 15 sports nutrition positions in the country at the time.

Brown never lost her love for sports nutrition, however, and joined WSU in August 2011. As one of the few registered dietitian sports nutritionists at a U.S. university, she leads meal and nutrition planning and organizes nutrition screening assessments that introduce athletes to her services and identify high-risk nutritional deficiencies.

She and her staff do presentations for teams and small groups, have quick post-workout sessions on performance-enhancing nutrition tips, and highlight nutrition topics each week on message boards and newsletters. Brown says they provide recipes, host small cooking demonstrations, and encourage cooking at home.

How to eat like an athlete

Tips for anyone who wants to eat well and exercise hard, from WSU sports nutrition coordinator Lindsay Brown. (PDF)