Turning Food Into Fuel: How CSIO's Nutrition Team Supports Athletes in their Quest for the Podium

Monday, January 22, 2018
Turning Food Into Fuel: How CSIO's Nutrition Team Supports Athletes in their Quest for the Podium

When an athlete reaches the start line or takes that final breath before the puck drops in PyeongChang it’s important that they are confident that they’ve checked all the boxes and left no stone unturned. At Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO) the team of high performance sport medicine and sport science professionals work hard behind the scenes to help athletes do just that!

The sport nutrition team at CSIO has a key role in ensuring that athletes are both educated and supported in ways to use nutrition to optimize their health and performance leading up to the games. This starts with knowledge of the fundamentals of performance nutrition and learning how to balance their diets to offset the intense physiological and mental stress that comes with long hours in the gym, on the slopes, on the ice, or wherever their sport takes them. Understanding how to fuel their bodies with the right food and supplements, at the right time, in the right amounts, is critical to ensuring that they can withstand the demands of training and competition. The sport nutritionists at CSIO educate athletes on these principles so they not only know what to eat, but why, ensuring that they appreciate the impact of nutrition on their performance.

But of course, knowledge only takes you so far. It is the job of our sport nutrition team to also help athletes with the practical application of these concepts – by turning the science of high performance sport nutrition into actual food! Athletes regularly have the opportunity to get into the Performance Kitchen at CSIO to practice preparing foods to fit the different needs of training and competition. Whether it is ways to adjust a smoothie to fit the recovery demands of a weight training session versus an aerobic workout, or how to cook at a competition when all you have is a microwave, our team of sport nutritionists tailor the sessions to individual athletes’ needs so they can reach their fueling goals at home or on the road!

It is in bringing all of this knowledge and practical skill together where our expert staff of experienced sport nutritionists really excel. It is a precise balance of the clinical health considerations coupled with an understanding of fueling the demands of high performance training that allows a sport nutritionist to assist elite athletes to find their optimal state of health and performance. At CSIO our sport nutrition team works one-on-one with athletes to determine their individual requirements by evaluating various aspects that shape their nutritional needs and eating behaviours including age and growth considerations; lifestyle; psychological and social factors; clinical and health related issues, as well as the psychological and physiological demands of their sport. Seasoned sport nutritionists can then apply their expertise in clinical nutrition and nutritional science with their practical understanding of the barriers and challenges that many elite athletes experience, from travel considerations to vast climate changes to time constraints due to a busy training or competition schedule. In addition, our team of sport nutritionists work with world-leading experts to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to innovative sport nutrition and supplementation practices, ensuring our athletes are always on the cutting edge.

There are many factors outside of an athlete’s control, but we know that there are also some key areas that elite athletes can really use to their advantage, nutrition being one of them! At CSIO our sport nutrition team works hard to ensure that athletes have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to successfully fuel their way to the podium.


About Canadian Sport Institute Ontario

Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO) is a non-profit organization committed to the pursuit of excellence by providing world-class programs, services, and leadership to high performance athletes and coaches to enhance their ability to achieve international podium performances. CSIO offers athletes a range of sport science and sport medicine services including nutrition, physiology, biomechanics, strength & conditioning, mental performance, sport therapy and life services. CSIO also delivers programming and services to National and Provincial Sport Organizations and coaches to work towards building a stronger sport system in Ontario and Canada.

CSIO services approximately 700 high performance athletes and 250 coaches, at its main facility at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, its satellite location at the Mattamy National Cycling Centre in Milton, and in daily training environments across Ontario. CSIO is part of a larger network of 4 institutes and 3 multi-sport centres across the country known as the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network, working in partnership with the Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee. CSIO is further supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Sport Canada, Own the Podium, and the Coaching Association of Canada, along with the National and Provincial Sport Organizations within the sector.  www.csiontario.ca


Written By:

Nicole Springle, Lead, Sport Nutrition, Canadian Sport Institute Ontario

Media Contact:

Laura Albright, Manager, Communications & Events

Canadian Sport Institute Ontario

Tel: 416.596.1240 Ext. 238

Email: lalbright@csiontario.ca



Performance Recipe

The Travelling Quesadilla

Use a hotel clothing iron to make a crispy quesadilla - an athlete favourite! Perfect when on the road without access to a kitchen!



  1. Sliced cooked chicken (consider buying a roast chicken from grocery store)
  2. Shredded cheese
  3. Whole wheat wraps
  4. Salsa
  5. Can of sweet kernel corn


For Hotel Iron: 

  • Heat iron turned up to HIGH.
  • Put ¼ cup of chicken and ¼ cup of cheese and 1 tbsp. of corn on one side of a wrap. 
  • Fold wrap.
  • Wrap in wax paper or foil.
  • Press iron into your quesadilla for a minute.  Flip and do again until cheese seems melted.
  • Let cool for 1 min. 
  • Eat and enjoy! Can be served with bean salad and dipped into salsa.

NOTE: You can also microwave, but it will not be as crispy. 

SAFETY REMINDER: Be sure to turn off and unplug the iron when done cooking the quesadilla!

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