February 17, 2023

Zipper Team

Featured Provider: Caila Yates, MS, RD

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As a Boulder-based dietitian, Caila helps athletes use food as a tool to optimize performance. Focusing on eating intuitively rather than following a meal plan, she teaches people how to make sustainable habit changes and dial in their nutrition for every season of training.

Get to know Caila:

What inspired you to become a registered dietitian?

I was always an athlete growing up - from swimming when I was in elementary and middle school to finding track in high school to running marathons now. However, it wasn't until I was in college that I realized that food wasn't an enemy that was slowing me down, but a tool to be used to optimize performance. I began to realize that, just as I had, many athletes were overlooking nutrition as a tool in performance, and I knew that I could help. Combined with my curiosity around food, my desire to help others is what inspired me to become licensed as a dietitian.

Who are you following in the space/industry?

On instagram, I have been loving @redefining_health_ because they showcase objective, current studies about women-specific nutrition. Similarly, @insidesportsnutrition simplifies complex sports nutrition concepts into easily digestible info.

What are your favorite apps and resources for your work with clients and why?

Nourishly is a great food tracking app that focuses more on your feelings or GI symptoms than macros and calories. I like being able to gain insight into what my clients are eating day-to-day, but I don't want to put the burden of tracking onto my clients, as this can easily become obsessive.

Similarly, I teach all of my athletes about "Athlete Plates," which helps focus more on the proportion of your plate, rather than the calories and macros on it.

Any podcast, book or movie recommendations? (can be sport or nutrition-related or not)

The book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch is a MUST! It challenges the way that each of us thinks about food, and teaches one how to listen to their bodies' natural cues and cravings.

The "Running the Show" podcast by fellow Zipper coach Evan Schwartz as well as Drew Hartman and Emma Kertesz is always a fun listen!!

Favorite quote?

"Progress is not linear." It's cheesy, but SO TRUE. I remind my clients of this all the time.

Favorite meal?

Breakfast burrito with bacon, hashbrowns, and green chile

Favorite vacation spot?

Bennington, Vermont

Favorite city to run in?

Nothing beats the Boulder dirt roads!!

Favorite race you've done?

The New York City Marathon - the energy of the crowd is unmatched.

Caila's Coaching Style:

How would you describe your style of communication with clients?

I am open and casual with my clients in sessions because my number one goal is to make my clients feel comfortable and at-ease.

One piece of advice to someone just starting their journey to learn more about their nutritional needs?

Everyone's nutritional needs are different - I cannot emphasize this enough! Therefore, your nutritional needs will not look the same as your partner's, your friend's, or your dad's. So, just because something works for someone else doesn't mean that it will yield the same results for you. That's why it is important to be patient as you begin to dial in your nutrition.

How do you approach working with new athletes?

I ask a lot of questions - like, a lot. It's important for me to know medical history, training goals, past injuries, what types of nutrition interventions they have tried in the past, what has worked, what hasn't, so on and so on. I want the WHOLE picture of the client before we begin setting goals so that we can come up with a personalized plan that we are both excited about.

Any common mistakes or misconceptions about diet / nutrition that you see impacting athletes in the endurance space?

Low. Carb. Diets. Carbs are our friends, especially for my endurance athletes!!!!

What do you believe sets your teaching & coaching style apart from others in the industry?

The foundation of my practice is maintaining a healthy relationship with food and your body - not JUST your sports performance. This means that no foods are "bad foods," we don't use strict meal plans or kitchen scales, and we certainly don't count calories.

How do you help your athletes set and achieve their nutritional goals, both in the short term and long term?

In each session, we take big, overarching goals and break them down into small, bite-sized goals. While they may seem tiny in the moment, all the changes eventually add up to make a huge, lasting impact. If we tried to change everything at once, it may seem overwhelming, and the change would likely be unsustainable.

How do you stay up-to-date on the latest research and trends in the field?

I am constantly following new research and position papers from organizations such as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American College of Sports Medicine. In addition, registered dietitians are required to complete 70 hours of continuing education every 5 years, so this certainly helps keep me up to date, too!

What advice would you give to someone who is considering hiring a dietitian or starting to work with one for the first time?

Schedule a discovery call (or two, or three) with a potential dietitian to assess if they are a good fit for you! Sometimes, you may simply not vibe with someone or their philosophies, and that's okay! It's crucial to find someone that you are comfortable with and specializes in meeting your unique needs.

What's a contrary belief you have about the industry?

I don't believe that you need to diet to be successful/meet athletic goals. While billions of dollars are spent in the diet industry every year, studies show that 80% of diets fail in the long run. Learning how to listen to your body and its cues during different periods of training is more sustainable and effective in the long run.

Is there an ideal athlete type to work with?

Nope! Any athlete that is open to learning and making habit changes is an ideal athlete.

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