The Experts: Shane Mikesky
Updated: May 18, 2020
I met Shane last year in Fort Collins and am so glad that I did! He is one of the funniest people I know and one of the few people I've met that is more sarcastic than me. Shane has clearly dedicated his life to athletics, he has a remarkable background in sports and has kept that talent going as he pursues his dream of helping other athletes become the best that they can be through personalized fitness and nutrition plans. There aren't many people out there that can stand school enough to get a bachelor's degree twice, a master's degree, and a dietetic internship, but he is one of them! Seeing how passionate he is for his career is truly inspiring, especially when it comes to something that is dedicated to serving others. On top of it all, Shane is incredibly genuine, modest, and doesn't give off the typical arrogant attitude that ex-athletes can have which is super refreshing. I am excited to see him continue to succeed in his career and hopefully own his own business because he is definitely capable of it! Still doubting his dedication? Read his answers below:
Q: Tell me about your background in sports and nutrition
A: My background in sports and nutrition comes from being a former athlete. I was lucky enough to play football and run track at Purdue University where I studied and completed a master's degree in exercise physiology. During graduate school, I interned with the Purdue strength and conditioning department and worked with their volleyball team during their off-season training. After completing graduate school, I moved to Colorado where I worked at a private sports performance facility as the director of operations and performance physiologist, training athletes ranging in skill levels from middle school to collegiate and professional. From this position, I decided to return to school at Colorado State University to pursue an education in dietetics where I could become a registered dietitian, eventually wanting to work with athletes in maximizing performance from both a training and nutrition standpoint. I graduated from Colorado State with a degree in nutrition sciences and a concentration in dietetics in 2019. I am currently completing a supervised practice internship for dietetics through Indiana University in Indianapolis that will conclude in June, and at which point I can take my registration exam to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN).
Q: What are the most common questions you get?
A: Some of the most common questions I get that are related to training are the “best” ways to train. My favorite answer is always “it depends,” because it truly does. There is no “best” way to train and exercise. A number of factors come into play, ranging from the age of the individual I am working with, the sport or event they are training for, any health-related factors, if they have previous training experience, any movement or injury-related restrictions, and the list can go on. In short, there is no single “best” way to train. It is a very individualized topic.
In terms of nutrition, the big question I get typically revolves around protein and supplements. A lot of people ask about how much protein they need, and most times, the recommendations that they hear are WAY too much. So they are always surprised when I tell them to cut back because they truly don’t need it. The other question I get is always related to what supplements I take, or what recommendations I think they should take, etc. My answer is always to aim for getting nutrition from real food. Supplements are named just that for a reason: they are intended to supplement your diet, not be a major component. So, for example, if protein powders are the main source of protein in an individual’s diet, I would work with them to find other sources from real foods that also provide a variety of vitamins and minerals that the powder does not have.
Q: What are some common myths regarding sports nutrition and training?
A: Myth #1: You need 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. While you could make the argument from research that this is supported, it really only applies to highly-trained, elite-level athletes that are training for significant portions of their day, and their sport/event is their job. The vast majority of individuals who exercise recreationally do not need nearly that much protein in their diet. The RDA for protein is 0.8-1 g/kg/day (0.36-0.45 g/lb/day). That recommendation is for basic human needs; however, as individuals increase their activity and training intensity, those numbers can change. That’s where working with a dietitian for a personalized nutrition plan is key to optimizing athletic performance.
Myth #2: your training isn’t effective or hard enough if you aren’t dead after the workout or sore the next day. Soreness and fatigue aren't necessarily bad things: if you perform a new movement/exercise/training style that you’ve never done, then it’s possible you're going to be sore since its a novel action to your body. But working out with the goal of making yourself sore and exhausted is actually counterproductive to improving performance and fitness. Essentially you are just putting yourself into a constant state of break-down so that your recovery is just getting you back to baseline and not any better. So when you start a program, expect some soreness the first few workouts, but over time, you should not feel sore after training sessions.
Q: What are the best and worst things you can do for your body as an athlete?
A: The best thing you can do for your body as an athlete is to listen to it. Athletes are very sensitive to how they feel with changing conditions in terms of training, nutrition, mentality, and a whole host of other aspects. This is a double-edged sword. On one side, the athlete knows when they are at peak performance and training well, and they want to maintain that. On the other side, the athlete knows how they feel if their body is sore, banged up, in pain, etc. While there are times that it’s fine to push through the pain (e.g. a bruise for a football player), athletes are notorious for not listening to their body and pushing through the pain to the point that they get truly injured. Your body does a great job of telling you how it feels: thirsty? Drink water. Hungry? Probably need to eat. Feeling drained? Take a recovery day and keep it light. Too many people have bought into this “NDO” (no days off) concept. Your body needs to recover to make improvements. Listen to it.
Q: What is your typical weekly fitness routine?
A: My typical routine is working out in some capacity 6 days a week. I realize that sounds conflicting with what I just said in terms of the NDO concept. But I vary the intensity of my workouts based on how my body feels, meaning my “workout” for one day might be as simple as going on a walk. I’m a big fan of lifting, so I’m usually lifting 3-4 times a week. The other days I try to do something related to running, biking, or anything that gets me out of a gym and breathing hard.
Q: What do you recommend athletes eat regularly?
A: It sounds cliche, but fruits and vegetables as incredibly important for athletes. Often times, athletes are so focused on getting calories in that they neglect the benefits of fruits and vegetables for calorie-dense foods. The vitamins and minerals in fruits and veggies are incredibly important for the metabolism to function properly, as well as for recovery. Neglecting these is an oversight that needs to be addressed. The goal that I tell most people is to shoot for eating each color of the rainbow at least once during the week. That way they are varying their intake and getting a wide variety of nutrients.