by Guest Author,

Kaylia Stanton, student nutritionist Curtin University

West Coast Fever player Kaylia Stanton gives us the low down on the life of a professional netballer and insight into her practical placement with LiveLighter.

Recently, while scrolling through social media, I saw a picture (below) showing what World Tennis Champion Serena Williams eats. “Athletes consume this, yet we consume these”. I had to laugh, as quite often I’m asked what I eat as a professional athlete. 

Athletes eat this... but we consume this

People often think that athletes focus on specially formulated ‘sports’ food that come in the form of pills and shakes. But that is not the case. I love to eat! And I really like to cook too! I enjoy preparing new and interesting meals just like everybody else.

When I eat, I prefer wholefoods that are minimally processed (e.g. fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes, grains) rather than packaged supplements and powders. What I generally watch for is making sure that I have enough food to balance my energy requirements.

Over the past few weeks my training load has really increased due to the Suncorp Super Netball competition taking a break during the World Netball Cup (in Liverpool). I have increased my workload by about 25-30% with the extra training.

To train this hard and long is unusual during our competitive/game phase. However, given the nearly four-week break, it is a good opportunity to put some “dollars in the bank” and build condition and fitness for the second half of the season. To do this I need to make sure I am eating extra food to provide the fuel my body needs to keep it going through the daily training/playing cycle. This is where my nutrition needs differ a little from people who don’t play competitive sport.

Eating enough kilojoules to support my training needs doesn’t mean eating junk food and sugary drinks though! A friend recently asked me for some advice about her sweet cravings and we worked out when they occurred and how she might be better able to deal with them. I too get sweet cravings, but I know that eating a burst of sugar from junk food can lead to a roller coaster of sugar highs and lows that is unhelpful for my training. So instead, I make my own nutritious sweets that will satisfy my sweet cravings while also getting the nutrients I need to train and play hard.

Choc berry chia pudding Choc-berry chia pudding - A healthy sweet treat!

Studying nutrition part-time at Curtin University this past six years, has taught me much. It has given me the opportunity to broaden my interest into the area of health promotion (my double major) and I have had the opportunity to explore working options through a recent practicum placement with the LiveLighter campaign.

Like most students, practical placement is an exciting and challenging time. It gives you the opportunity to explore the “real world” and at LiveLighter this year, it helped me focus on where my interests in food, nutrition and health promotion can take me. 

Unlike other university students, as a full-time athlete with netball club West Coast Fever, I am very busy with my sport. I train between 25-30 hours a week, participate in appearances, run netball clinics, attend team meetings, forums and media commitments, travel interstate, either every second week or sometimes two weeks in a row for up to five-six months during the season playing matches.

As a high performance athlete, I am accustomed to being busy and on the run both literally and figuratively. My day usually consists of any of the following; netball training, gym, video analysis team meetings, sports psychology, leadership development, appearances at schools and netball associations and remedial massage. Add to this a work placement and it was necessary to manage my time really well and I embraced the challenge with open arms.

Given the partnership between West Coast Fever, LiveLighter and Healthway, I had the perfect entrée to the world of health promotion and sport in one go.   

My placement was for 10 weeks. In this time I worked on a variety of ideas to support the LiveLighter, West Coast Fever and Healthway partnership. In particular I worked with key team members at Fever, LiveLighter and Healthway to conceptualise, create and produce membership resource packs for West Coast Fever members. 

Do you eat brighter?       Kaylia recipe card          If you’ve been to a game recently or plan to attend one of our final three games at the Arena in 2019 (and I hope you do!), you will also notice Fever players discussing the amount of sugar in different sugary drinks. I am so proud of my involvement in bringing together the LiveLighter message, Fever players and our fans!

So now Fever has five games until finals. From a nutritional standpoint I will make sure I have pasta or a meal with a large amount of carbohydrates before the game. This is because carbohydrates provide the body with fuel, and I need a lot of fuel to play at my best. After training, I make sure I have some form of a recovery snack or drink, usually high in protein, to help my muscles recover faster. I have found if I have something high in protein with some carbohydrate within 15-45 minutes of finishing exercise, my recovery is usually better.

At Fever, we enlist the professional services of a dietitian, where the focus is on making sure we eat wholesome foods, not just protein shakes. It’s great that we have a sounding board for tailored expert nutritional advice, however I can assure you that you can find almost everything you need for a healthy nutritious diet right here on the LiveLighter website!

LiveLighter supports future health professionals through engagement with Australian Universities. This student blog was created for LiveLighter as part of a practical placement completed with Cancer Council WA towards completion of a Bachelor of Nutrition and Health Promotion at Curtin University, Western Australia.

Related posts