The room is filled with some of the biggest, strongest, meanest men in professional sports. Most of them are paid to pulverize, and they don't fear anything in this world except a career-ending injury and the little white woman who just walked into the room.

Her name is Leslie Bonci and her job is to tell some of the toughest guys on the planet what to eat. Bonci is the nutrition consultant of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the director of sports nutrition at the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine. She's a registered dietician with a Master's degree in Public Health and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh.

Bonci has consulted with everyone from Notre Dame athletes and professional baseball players to ballerinas and the U.S. Olympic canoe and kayak team. T-Nation decided to sit down with her between her Today show appearances and pick her brain about a variety of sports nutrition topics.

T-Nation: Thanks for talking to us today, Leslie. I hear they call you GI Jane. Why is that?

T-Nation: You work with a lot of professional male athletes including football players. What common dietary mistakes do you see? Where do these guys mess up?

LB:


 
T-Nation: Not healthy in the long run. How do these big football players respond to nutrition advice? Are they open or resistant? Any funny stories?

LB:

T-Nation: You mentioned hydration above. I also caught your presentation at the last ACSM Summit and you mentioned something interesting about gulping vs. sipping fluids during exercise. Can you tell us about that?

T-Nation: Interesting. I've never heard that before. Now, if you could get athletes to start eating one particular food more often and stop eating one food altogether, what would those be?

T-Nation: A lot of athletes use sugar/caffeine products such as Red Bull pre-game or pre-workout. Good idea or bad? Is the sugar-free kind any better?

It may "give you wings" but don't drink products like this before exercise or games.

T-Nation: Let's talk protein. The general "rule" amongst bodybuilders is to get a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. Some go only by LBM and some even go two grams per pound overall body weight. General thoughts on this practice?

T-Nation: You've come out against low-carb diets. Is that just for performance reasons with athletes, or are low-carb diets not ideal for the general public as well?

T-Nation: "Selective rather than restrictive." Good phrase. What about athletes?

T-Nation: I once ate a whole tub of low carb ice cream. Lemme tell ya, I thought my butt was going to... well, nevermind. The sugar alcohols are the problem with many of these low carb sweets, right?

T-Nation: Being a GI expert, you're a fiber fan. I've noticed that fiber is the red-headed stepchild of bodybuilding: no one really pays it much attention. How much per day do we need?

LB:

T-Nation: Prebiotics, probiotics and digestive enzymes: worth the money?

T-Nation: What's your ideal pre-game or pre-workout meal?

LB:

T-Nation: Sounds like we all need to be eating more yogurt with active cultures. Now, here's something I've always wondered about: In the health community, topics such as fasting and colon cleansing come up quite a bit. The word "toxins" gets bandied about a lot and these practices are supposed to remove them.

A lot of this smacks of California-granola-hippie nonsense to me, but is there any value to periodic fasts and (gulp) colonics? The colonics folks like to say that the average person has a large amount of undigested meat in their bodies and it needs to be flushed out. Is any of that true?

T-Nation: Thank goodness. Here's another "fact" that gets around the Internet like a drunk sorority girl: Colas eat away a person's stomach and are too acidic for human consumption.

T-Nation: What's the top GI disorder you see in active individuals?

T-Nation: You mentioned that most athletes are clueless about supplements. What's the worst story you have concerning athletes and their mistakes with supplements?

T-Nation: Final topic: steroids. Has the use of steroids affected your work with athletes? Any special concerns there?

LB:

T-Nation: Thanks for the chat today, Leslie. Where can T-Nation readers learn more about your work?