The nutritious Florida diet got a chance to go back to school today as we got an inside peek into the nutrition side of the Gator athletic programs. Florida is one of only six universities in NCAA athletics to have two full time dietitians on staff.

Today, we met with sports nutrition director Sarah Snyder who provides the Gator athletes with everything they need to be in top physical condition. Sarah came to Florida after helping train some of the nation’s top draft prospects and athletes for the the past couple years. Just like when we were kids, Sarah is the mom to the Gator athletes making sure they are always consuming their veggies and proteins at every meal.

So one may as ask, what goes into maintaining the behemoths that take to the Gator playing fields? Well, quite a lot actually. According to Sarah, 70-80% of the athletes that arrive in Gainesville have a very limited knowledge of what it takes to be nutritious when they first get to Florida. It is when they first get to Florida, Will Muschamp meets with his staff and then has strength coordinator Jeff Dilman devise a plan for each player with the nutrition staff to get players ready for the grueling task of competing in the SEC.

For many of the athletes at Florida, they consume massive calorie intakes on a daily basis that revolve around three full meals and two to three snacks a day. To go along with the meals, hydration is a vital part to the healthy lifestyle of a Gator athlete. Practicing in the sweltering Florida sun can cause a player to lose up to nine pounds during a single practice. To replace that lost weight, players must consume between 16 to 20 ounces of water per every pound lost.

On top of that, to maintain playing weight Florida athletes stick to a plan of one gram of protein per one pound a day. Now how bout when a player is looking to bulk up similar to offensive lineman D.J. Humphries is doing this off season  Well imagine doing your best to eat healthy while still managing to consume between 5,000-6,000 calories a day. No easy task, that is for sure.

Now it’s no easy task for the nutrition staff to keep track of the diets of all the Gators. NCAA and SEC rules limit the staff to only giving athletes nuts, fruits, shakes, powerbars and the newest tasty addition, spreads. It’s not all bad though, the Florida athletes on scholarship are treated to a normal meal plan in addition to the Gator Training Table for dinner Monday through Thursday during the week. The Training Table consists of a hearty meal monitored by the nutrition staff on site to 250 Gator athletes daily. How would you enjoy a college meal once a day comprised of things such as crab legs, steaks, salmon and fresh rolled sushi? Yea, sounds good to me as well.

Even when the staff can’t be with the athletes, they are in contact with the players through text messages as they swap food photos and get tips for the nutrition staff on how they can improve. The staff strives for student-athletes to follow an 80/20 nutrition plan. That represents a diet with eighty percent healthy dieting meals and twenty percent up to player discretion. So don’t worry Frankie Hammond, you can still sneak a Krispy Cream donut every once in a while.

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Seth Puglio
Seth Puglio joined GatorCountry while he was finishing his sports management degree at the University of Florida. Originally from Vero Beach, Florida, Seth has been a huge sports fan his whole life and always knew he would want to get into the sports industry anyway he could. He has spent time working for several athletic administrative departments for the Gators and joined Gator Country as an intern in October of 2012. He is now viewing the sports industry from a new angle as Gator Country’s editor. In his free time Seth enjoys fishing, grilling out, watching too much sports and afternoon naps on the hammock. He is a fan of the Gators, Miami Dolphins, Orlando Magic, Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Lightning. Follow Seth on twitter @spuglio