Today I get the pleasure of introducing you to our sixth presenter for The 2019 Seminar, Cheryl Zonkowski. Cheryl has been working at the highest level of sports nutrition sense the turn of the century working at The University of Florida and most recently with the United States Navy’s Special Warfare Operators. For as long as we have held this event people have asked for us to bring in someone who could discuss nutritional strategies we can implement with our athletes, which is why we are so excited to have Cheryl aboard. With experience at one of the top departments in the NCAA and time working with our nation’s finest I couldn’t be more excited to hear what she has to share with all of us this July. So without further delay, let’s meet Cheryl Zonkowski.
JD: If you could, please give our readers a little background information about you, what your niche in the world of athletics is, accomplishments, how you got there, education, any products you have available and/or notable publications.
CZ: First off, thank you for having me present Jay! I am the founder of Catalyzt Nutrition LLC, where I review and evaluate fueling, hydration, and recovery practices to optimize cognition, energy levels, and longevity for an array of clients. With Calatyzt Nutrition I interpret client’s biomarkers to determine individual interventions, meal plans, and supplement recommendations. For the past 8 years, I’ve had the honor of working with Naval Special Warfare Operators. Before I started with the Navy, I was the Director of Sports Nutrition for the University of Florida Gators where I worked with over 750 student-athletes. I have professional memberships with: the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Collegiate, Professional, and Sports Dietitians Association, and the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and hold credentials as a Registered Dietitian, Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. As far as education, I received a Bachelor’s Degree with a double major in Food Science and Human Nutrition and Psychology and my Master’s Degree in Human Performance/Exercise Physiology from the University of Florida (GO GATORS!).
JD:Discuss with us the mistakes you see made by strength and conditioning coaches in the United States and around the world, and what you feel should be done differently/how to correct these issues.
CZ:Fortunately, in recent years there has been a shift in attention to the value of nutrition and fueling for athletes. Earlier in my career it could be challenging to obtain full trust and “buy-in” from coaches and strength and conditioning coaches to educate their athletes and implement proper fueling and recovery strategies for individuals and teams. Oftentimes tradition, team culture and dynamics, and punishment and/or reward was what guided food choices. Thanks to the growth and specificity of research, success stories, open mindedness, and continuing education, a much higher percentage of strength and conditioning coaches see the value in proper fueling, recovery, and hydration. The Performance Nutrition field is growing and the value of Performance Dietitians as subject matter experts is increasing. Providing athletes with proper nutrition education is critical to performance, injury mitigation, and career longevity. Having an expert, even in a small capacity (referral based vs part time consulting vs full time programming), will promote both improved physical and mental performance.
JD: What advice would you give a coach to improve knowledge in the lines of continuing education, meaning could you point our readers in a direction to find the scientific and practical information to improve the methods they use to improve performance?
CZ: Continuing education is a necessary element for all subject matter experts, both within their area of expertise and critical elements of related areas. As is true for any profession, vetting the source of all information and research is important prior to finalizing education points and training tools/techniques. Organizations such as Collegiate, Professional, Sports Dietitians Association (CPSDA) and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutritionists (AND’s SCAN) vet and provide references and resources for professional affiliates. Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism provide some of the latest data to the field.
JD:If you could give a brief description of what our attendees can expect from you at The Seminar?
CZ:Seminar Objectives: (Please let me know your thoughts on these, they are up for conversation.)
- Learn full capabilities (menu of services) of a Performance Dietitian.
- Identify avenues to engage a Performance Dietitian with your athlete(s).
- Understand how a Performance Dietitian prioritizes their capabilities and services to optimize your athlete(s) fueling, performance, and recovery goals.
JD:Any closing thoughts?
CZ: Developing a platform for anti-inflammatory and performance nutrition has been my passion for over 15 years. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to fueling. Appropriately applied research combined with individual metrics, preferences, and lifestyle factors facilitate the optimal program for each person. Even then, fueling and recovery strategies should be periodized based on training cycles/seasons. The scientific foundations hold true, but the art lies in the personalization. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to share my passion for Performance Nutrition with attendees. I look forward to meeting everyone!
Who is Cheryl Zonkowski?
Cheryl Zonkowski is the founder of Catalyzt Nutrition LLC. She reviews and evaluates fueling, hydration, and recovery practices to optimize cognition, energy levels, and longevity of her clients. Moreover, she provides biomarker interpretation and interventions, personal meal plans, supplement reviews and recommendations. Cheryl has served as a Performance Dietitian for Naval Special Warfare for over 8 years. Prior experience includes five years as the Director of Sports Nutrition for the University of Florida’s Athletic Association from 2006 to 2011. The Sports Nutrition Department’s mission was counseling, educating, and fueling over 750 student-athletes based on the latest scientific evidence. Cheryl is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Collegiate, Professional, and Sports Dietitians Association, and National Strength and Conditioning Association. She holds credentials as a Registered Dietitian, Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Cheryl received her Bachelor’s Degree with a double major in Food Science and Human Nutrition and Psychology and her Master’s Degree in Human Performance/Exercise Physiology from the University of Florida.
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