October 2, 2022
Nutritionist helps keeps OSU football on top of its game

Nutritionist helps keeps OSU football on top of its game

COLUMBUS, Ohio — It takes a lot of food to feed a football team, and a lot of science, too. And for the nutritionist for Ohio State’s football team, it’s a full-time job keeping 120 college athletes fed.

What You Need To Know

  • Kaila Olson is the director of football nutrition at Ohio State
  • She provides individual nutrition plans for each player based on his goals
  • She helps guide the players on what to eat to make sure they can achieve peak performance

Kaila Olson may be small, but she’s in charge of making sure the biggest guys on campus are fed.

“The upstairs cafeteria area where they eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, anything like that,” said Olson, the director of football nutrition. “So this is our main line right here.”

A lot of food options are provided for the football players (Spectrum News 1/Katie Kapusta)

At the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, Olson and her team of nutritionists make sure each football player has plenty of food to choose from.

“Today we had Bibibop for lunch right here and they also had Charley’s if they wanted cheesesteak instead,” Olson said. “And we always have the grill where they can order anything they want if they don’t want what’s on the line.”

There’s an emphasis on providing what will fuel them to be their best.

“Protein and carbohydrates, a little bit of color every meal,” she said.

Of course, it can be difficult to make sure these players maintain healthy habits.

“This is new for them so it’s just like little wins every day,” she said. “Like, OK, maybe let’s add some chicken to that or let’s add some color to that, so any little wins you can get.”

Olson works on individual nutrition plans for players (Spectrum News 1/Katie Kapusta)

She says each win makes everything worth it. But it’s more than just feeding the guys and going on with her day; a lot of work goes into each players personal nutrition plan.

“We give you a body composition scan now, what are your goals going forward?” said Olson. “So say this player would probably need to put 15 pounds on before he gets here and starts summer training with us.”

An example of a nutrition plan (Spectrum News 1/Katie Kapusta)

Based on each player’s goals, Olson helps make sure they get what they need to be at peak performance.

Olson helps hydrate players before a game (Kaila Olson)

“We want to make it as easy as we can on our players, we don’t want them to have to see all the science in the background behind it,” she said. “So we try to make it super simple for them. So we give them this initial cover page, so this is what your page should look like at every meal.”

Olson celebrates with players after winning the Rose Bowl (Kaila Olson)

For Olson, it’s a dream to be here, and she says building relationships with each and every player is the cherry on top.

“It’s like having 120 little brothers all the time,” she said.