Livestock News

College football team makes beef nutrition part of its playbook


Athletic teams nationwide have been showcasing beef as part of a healthy and active lifestyle, and recent observations have even shown the benefits of strong protein sources in medicine and muscle recovery. Recently, the Nebraska Beef Council partnered with the Campbell University football program, the North Carolina Beef Council, and registered sports dietitian Crystal Zabka-Belsky to focus on beef as a premier protein for fueling and performance.

The partnership between those in the Beef State and those in the Tar Heel State is also coupled with skill development and hands-on meal preparation to help implement effective nutrition habits for athletes throughout the training season and beyond.

This comes not long after the Build Your Base with Beef program announced its continued efforts for a fourth year, preparing young athletes all the way up to Olympic athletes for a successful sports season. Build Your Base with Beef is a nutrition initiative providing a toolkit that contains ready-to-use material as well as resources that lead to overall success towards a healthful lifestyle, through a collaborative partnership between the South Dakota Beef Industry Council, Sanford Health, and the Sanford Sports Science Institute.

“Beef is truly a performance protein,” said Mitch Rippe, director of nutrition and education for the Nebraska Beef Council. “Our goal was to provide student athletes with practical and easy-to-use nutrition strategies that they can implement in their daily lives. These strategies, coupled with the high-quality protein beef provides, allows these athletes to train hard and recover effectively.”

During the Campbell University event, football players were tasked with building balanced performance meals featuring beef. In a pre-session survey, one-third of the athletes indicated that their lack of knowledge when it came to preparing beef, along with their perception that beef is an expensive protein, led them to seek alternative meal options.

Beef advocates then spent time talking with the more than 100 players from North Carolina-based Campbell, and as a result, over 95 percent of players stated they now consume beef at least two to three times per week, with 93 percent of players indicating they are now very likely to incorporate more beef into their weekly meals.

While the program took place in North Carolina, Campbell’s head coach, Mike Minter, is a former University of Nebraska player and a two-time national champion (’94 and ’95) who played 10 years in the NFL.

According to Amelia Breinig with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, based on the success of this program and benefit to student athletes, the Nebraska Beef Council is working on additional sports nutrition programming opportunities with colleges, universities, and high school athletic programs to feature beef as a premier protein for athletic performance and fueling. 

World gold medal hammer thrower and U.S. record holder Deanna Price said, “As a professional athlete you need the highest quality source of fuel. Beef is an extremely nutrient dense protein. Not only does it provide high quality protein, but has numerous amounts of vitamins and minerals that are essential for not only performance but for everyday living.”

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