Nutrition for Professional Athletes - Brittany Hochevar, USA Volleyball

Juice Plus+ Jul 19, 2019
At 6 feet tall with a straight-off-the-beach tan and intense focus, Brittany Hochevar appears intimidating…until she cracks that ear-to-ear grin.

Before she hit the sand, Brittany started off playing indoor volleyball at Long Beach State University and went on to play on the USA Women’s National Team from 2002 to 2004. Now she’s a 4-time AVP Champion, owns a Pilates practice, and is competing for the U.S. in the FIVB (International Federation of Volleyball) World Tour.

But there’s more to Brittany than a fierce competitor. Beyond her accomplishments on the court, she has a lot to share about perseverance, family, and legacy. We had the chance to interview her after her mainstage appearance at the 2019 LIVE Conference, where she kicked off the Juice Plus+ partnership with USA Volleyball. She started with this:

“I love the idea of Juice Plus+ helping fuel what’s possible, and what’s possible is greatness.” She went on to add, “That’s probably going to cause me to tear up.”

Us too, Brittany.

That launched a 3-hour conversation that continued through lunch (salad with a side of fries, in case you were curious). We talked about her training, her teammates, her goals. Everything from her new Tower Garden to her dream of starting a family. Here’s what she had to say.

She believes in the healing power of good nutrition.

In 2008, a back injury threatened to cut her career short.

“There was a time when I took more responsibility in my adult life,” Brittany said. “The injury uncovered some of that. Understanding how I felt and coming into my own, how I was occupying my body, I took more responsibility on that.”

She came back with a new awareness of her body and how nutrition plays a role in recovery and retention.

“It’s not just consumption. It’s healing...And there are very specific things I want to do every time I sit down to a meal. This is how I heal. Approaching food from that vantage point changed things a lot for me.”

Now more than ever she believes her body is her business. “Everything I do is for that goal of Olympic gold and greatness.”

She’s also experienced the fueling power of good nutrition.

Whether training is part of your career or not, everyone has a baseline—the minimum fuel you know you need to function.

“Just as much thought has to go into the fueling as it does the training. You want to run on premium fuel.”

To put that in perspective, Brittany is in the sand 4x a week, the gym 3x a week, and her Pilates studio 2x a week. With workouts lasting from 50 to 90 minutes, that adds up to around 20 hours a week of burning calories and building muscle.

“It’s hard to eat as much as I need to as an athlete. That becomes exhausting for me…so as many whole fruits, vegetables, whole foods that I can consume, especially when I’m turning and burning—I just find that there’s more strength, there’s more power.”

“We've got little over a year to get to Tokyo,” Brittany told us, eyes gleaming.

As that momentum builds, so does the importance of good nutrition.

She’s playing a long game.

As Brittany’s volleyball career reaches its peak, she’s beginning to think about her ‘afterlife’—after volleyball that is. For her, the personal journey never stops, and part of that is finding ways to impact the next generation of athletes.

“There’s something about the craft of doing something long enough…you start to see layers to it.”

And it’s not just about volleyball. For her, food and nutrition are also about family. Known as Aunt B. to her nieces, she glowed when she spoke about her dreams of starting her own family and passing along her good nutrition habits.

“That’s what food is about,” she said. “We can’t get away from food as love. It’s coming around and being together and being thankful. It’s important we know where our food comes from.”

But even professional athletes have moments when self-doubt creeps in.

“I don't want to say I’m comfortable with failure, but I'm aware of what it brings…Failure is a great testing ground…If you never fail, then you never know. And when you know better, you do better.”