Q&A with Sports Dietitian, Scott Sehnert

April 24, 2013
Scott Sehnert has been a Sports Dietitian for Auburn University Sports Medicine staff since August 2009. He oversees the sports nutrition needs for 21 of the University's varsity sports including nutrition education, counseling, training table, body composition analysis, and supplement evaluation. Scott holds a Bachelor's degree in Dietetics from Ball State University. He earned his first Master's degree in Nutritional Sciences with a wellness and sports nutrition emphasis from the University of Kentucky. He received his second Master's degree in Kinesiology with a concentration in exercise physiology from Michigan State University. Prior to Auburn, he held a similar position at MSU where he coordinated the sports nutrition services for their student athletes.

I recently had the privledge of asking Scott some important questions regarding protein. Check out our Q&A below!


Scott Sehnert
Image & Bio Source

JRN: The most common protein powders available are whey, egg, casein and soy. Do you find that one is more effective than another and why?
SS: It depends what you mean as effective. Whey would be the most effective post-workout, muscle recovery protein as it has the highest leucine (branched-chain amino acid) content and leucine seems to be the trigger when it comes to protein synthesis.

JRN: Are there any ingredients people should avoid when buying a protein powder? What ingredients should people look for?
SS: People should look for 3rd party certifications like NSF for Sport, Informed Choice, and BSCG (Banned Substance Control Group). Since there’s NO regulation on supplements I really don’t trust any unless a company has invested in 3rd party testers that can verify what’s on the label is in the container. Otherwise, I like to keep it simple, whey protein and as little extras as possible.

JRN: What are the pros and cons to using a protein powder versus eating the same amount of protein in lean meat, fish or eggs?
SS: Pros – Powders are convenient for those who don’t have refrigeration close by (or a method to cook) and for those that are lactose intolerant, whey isolate is lactose free; if there is a specific concern to limit additional calories protein powders can practically give you only protein which is not always the case with whole foods. 
Cons – you miss out on other nutrients that are in those foods. The omega-3 in fish,  zinc or iron in red meat, or the vitamin B12 all provide additional benefits for the active individual and you will miss out on those by consuming just the protein powder. The whole protein will also do a better job providing satiety as it will take longer for digestion/absorption than powders. This would be important for those trying to lose body fat.

JRN: Are there any specific protein powder brands that you would recommend?
SS: Cytosport, Bipro, EAS, True Athlete just to name a few.

JRN: High protein, low carb diets get a lot of publicity. What kind of recommendations do you make when counseling athletes on weight loss?
SS: Carbs are fuel, so in the off-season or during an injury we don’t need as much carbohydrate. Otherwise, my general recommendation for weight loss athletes is to include lean proteins and fiber rich foods at every meal and ideally every snack. This helps you consume fewer calories at each meal, keeps you satisfied longer, helps “hold on to muscle” during fat loss (higher protein protects muscle in catabolic states), and is very nutrient dense. Low carb diets help you lose weight because you lose all of the fluid bound to the glycogen in the muscle. It’s not meant for athletes (especially team sport athletes).

JRN: Do you find a certain percentage of protein in a diet makes one more or less successful with their weight loss goals?
SS: I generally shoot for 1.8-2.0 g/kg body weight for protein.

JRN: For the average person trying to lose weight do you find that the timing of protein intake is essential for successful weight loss? For example, a protein shake post workout. What about for those trying to gain muscle mass?
SS: Recent research suggests the best thing for building muscle and optimizing body composition is to consume 20 (up to 30 grams for the 250#+ guys) grams of protein every 2-3 hours.

JRN: Is there a maximum amount of protein you can absorb at one time? If so, how much?
 SS: This is often talked about but I’ve never seen data to tell me exact numbers. You only have so many amino acid receptors in your gut, so I do think you excrete the extra nitrogen in the urine but that doesn’t mean you’re still not storing extra calories as fat. 

JRN: What about creatine? Is it useful for recovery, muscle building, etc.?
SS: We could talk for a long time about creatine. Creatine is a fuel source (like carbs) and 60-70% of those that take it properly do respond to it and will likely be able to get out another rep or two, which in turn stimulates muscle damage/repair and therefore muscle building.

A big "thank you" to Scott for such an informative Q&A!

Scott Sehnert is a Registered Dietitian (RD) with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) and is a member of the Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition (SCAN) dietetic practice group. Scott also holds certifications with the AND as a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD), and with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He serves on the Board of Directors for the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association (CPSDA).

**Please note that Scott works with collegiate athletes. His recommendations are not specific for the everyday individual. If you are looking for personal protein or meal planning recommendations you should seek out a Registered Dietitian in your area. Find one here**


Post a Comment