Alumna makes sure NFL players get the nutrition they need
Erica Capellino, who graduated from USC Dornsife with a bachelor’s degree in human biology in 2015, makes certain Los Angeles Chargers NFL players get the right nutrition for optimal athletic performance. (Photo: Mike Nowak/Los Angeles Chargers.)

Alumna makes sure NFL players get the nutrition they need

As dietitian for the Los Angeles Chargers football team, human biology graduate Erica Capellino helps keep the athletes strong with good food that’s good for them. [1 ½ min read]
ByConstance Summer

Erica Capellino ’15, MS ’17 wants only the finest food, wherever she goes. She tracked down the best clam chowder in Boston, and the highest-quality barbeque in Kansas City. But not for herself — for the Los Angeles Chargers football team.

At 26 years old, Capellino is the team’s first full-time dietitian and one of less than two dozen in the entire NFL. Thanks to her, meals and snacks and drinks for the players are not simply food — they are fuel for bodies that require optimum performance. Take for instance that KC barbeque. She directed that the chicken wings be baked, not deep-fried. And she searched out local sauces that weren’t saturated with high-fructose corn syrup.

“I had to make sure the nutritional density was there,” said Capellino, who completed both her bachelor’s in human biology at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and her master’s at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology.

As team dietitian, her work schedule rivals the players for intensity, though it outdoes them in sheer hours. Capellino rises during the season at 3:30 a.m. so she has time for her own meal and workout before heading over to the players’ breakfast at 6 a.m. From then until sometimes as late as midnight, seven days a week in-season, she oversees breakfast, lunch and dinner for the team, makes sure the players have adequate snacks (or “fuel”) before, during and after workouts, and monitors the players’ hydration.

She does have a few rules, though, for athletes as well as ordinary people: Half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables, she said; one quarter of it carbohydrates; and only one quarter protein. Also, after a workout, she recommends chocolate milk.

“It’s carb to protein ratio is 3-to-1,” she said. “Chocolate milk after a workout is one of the best foods you can use.”

See USC Davis School’s website for the full story (and a recipe for a recovery smoothie, to boot) >>