March 1, 2010
Angela Arnold Go, 404-413-1083
College of Health and Human Sciences
The moves of ice dancers Meryl Davis and Ben Agosto impressed the judges and garnered them high rankings during the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
But to do their best, it took energy.
Dan Benardot, professor of nutrition and head of the division of nutrition in the College of Health and Human Sciences, helped to prepare the U.S. figure skating ice dance teams for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, including Davis and White, and Agosto and Belbin.
"All of the American athletes competing in the dance competition performed magnificently," Benardot said.
Benardot, who has assisted other Olympic athletes through the Laboratory for Elite Athlete Performance (LEAP) at Georgia State, has worked with national team skaters over the past several years to help them improve endurance and power through the delivery of calories in a way that more dynamically matches activity-associated energy expenditure - the burning of calories.
First-time Olympians Davis and White placed second at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games and first at the 2010 U.S. Nationals this year. Agosto and Belbin placed fourth at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, came in second at the 2010 U.S. Nationals, and won a silver medal at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy.
"Davis and White received a much deserved and hard-earned silver medal, and Belbin and Agosto were also wonderful and very close to taking the bronze," Benardot said. "They are a terrific group of people to work with."
Benardot has focused much of his research on energy balance and its effect on elite athletes. He has received funding from the American Cancer Society, the California Horse Racing Commission, the Gatorade Sports Science Institute and the U.S. Olympic Committee. He has written or co-written four books on sports nutrition including Advanced Sports Nutrition.
Benardot, who worked with the 1996 U.S. Olympic women's gymnastics team and the 2004 U.S. Olympic marathon team, believes in adjusting an athletes' diet to provide optimal energy levels throughout the day. He has learned that many athletes do not properly fuel themselves, either eating too little or waiting until late in the day to consume most of their calories. This leads to the calorie deficit and ultimately an energy deficit.
Through LEAP, Benardot assesses top level athletes' performance and helps them craft an optimal eating and hydration plan to improve that performance, legally, at competitions. In addition to his work with athletes, Benardot holds the patent on the Energy Watch, a wristwatch designed to alert the wearer to a deficiency in calories.