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About Jen

Jen Sommer-Dirks, MS, RDN, CSSD, is a certified specialist in sports dietetics. She is a firm believer in the importance of nutrition for athletic performance as well as overall health and well being.  Her background as both a sports dietitian and eating disorder specialist have led her to a deep understanding of the fine balance of managing ones diet for sport without sacrificing mental or physical health. She is passionate about helping athletes improve their performance and health by maximizing their nutrition.  As an athlete herself and a nutrition professional, she has a full understanding of an athlete’s unique nutrition needs. 

Jen first became interested in sports nutrition during her undergraduate studies at Colorado State University. During that time she participated in a bike tour of the French Alps and the 2004 Tour de France. Pushing herself up those super steep climbs, and then watching the pro cyclists do it twice as fast, got her thinking about how critical nutrition is to athletic performance. This inspired her to pursue a Masters in Exercise Science, which she received from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and then to obtain her certification in sports nutrition. She also started competing in local cycling races, as well road and trail running races. Since then she has participated in several races and organized rides and runs, but mostly prefers to ride and run for enjoyment. Jen excels at uphill events and altitude and has run several trail 50ks and marathons. In the winter she continues her uphill exploits on skis!


What to Expect

Food

When working with me, I'm likely to suggest lean meats, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, oils, nuts, seeds, legumes, and even ice cream! I realize that each individual comes from a different nutrition background with different nutritional preferences. Therefore, I work with each athlete to meet them at their current nutritional comfort level to change their nutrition in a sustainable way.

Research has shown a great correlation between carbohydrate timing, nutrient density and exercise performance. I will use this research to help build the optimal plan for your sport. While it is recommended to eat a mostly whole foods diet and cook most meals from scratch, I'm are able to help you find that healthy balance between convenience and performance needs.

Empathy and Expectations

I want all of my athletes to meet all of their goals. Therefore, I speak directly to what needs to change in order to meet those goals. I listen effectively, and look at daily food choices as "data" that we can use for problem-solving and improving performance. Most importantly, I want and need total honesty and openness from my athletes to be an effective ally in their performance goals. By open discussion around successes and struggles, I will help you feel confident in all of your nutrition decisions.

Homework

Like the athletes I work with, I have high expectations and thrive on a challenge! I work with each athlete to define clear goals and work together to get there. I prescribe "homework" after each visit, and expect you to follow through by the next appointment time. Nutrition changes don't happen overnight, and each athlete must put in similar time and effort in the kitchen that they would put into the gym. By following my program, you can be the best athlete you've ever been!


Memberships

Active Fueling's registered dietitians are members of the Colorado Dietetic Association, the Denver Dietetic Association, the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitian Association (CPSDA), Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), and Sports Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition (SCAN).