Kansas City event promotes beef to athletes | TSLN.com

Kansas City event promotes beef to athletes

The Beef Endurance Team geared up to compete at the Kansas City Health and Fitness Expo on Oct. 15-16, 2010, where beef lovers, cattle producers and running enthusiasts join together to share one common message: lean beef is a healthy part of a well-balanced diet, and that’s a fact!

A few noteworthy additions to the Beef Endurance Team were Dane Rauschenberg, an author, motivational speaker and ultra-marathoner, and Heidi Wells, the Kansas and Missouri Beef Council’s staff dietician. Wells, also a sports nutrition specialist, grew up on a cattle ranch, and is proud to be putting checkoff dollars to use in order to boost beef demand and spread the positive message about America’s favorite protein.

“Heidi is an awesome asset in our ongoing effort to position beef as an important part of a healthy, active lifestyle,” said Daren Williams, executive director of communications for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).

Wells recapped the weekend events and shared how checkoff efforts are playing a big role in beef’s acceptance among the nation’s athletes.

“While in Kansas City, we had a booth where we gave away free beef samples to help educate athletes on why it’s so important to include protein in the diet,” explained Wells. “Protein is so important for the recovery process and to build those muscles back up after a long endurance run. The athletes love having us at events like this, and they are craving additional protein items to choose from other than the typical protein bar.”

In conjunction with the event, Rauschenberg, who is widely recognized for having completed 52 marathons in 52 weeks, also spoke to the runners, including several healthy lean beef messages in his presentation. Wells said the beef and running connection is a natural place for beef checkoff dollars to focus their promotional efforts on.

“In addition to my background in sports dietetics, I’m also involved as a beef producer,” explained Wells. “I grew up on a backgrounding operation, so I’m personally invested in this industry. I have discovered that many athletes feel like they can’t lose weight by eating beef. They see one athlete who may have chosen a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, so they feel like they need to try it, too.”

Wells noted that this is a timely topic for beef producers to work on, but she said there is good news on the health and beef debate.

“I have been in sports dietetics for 10 years now, and things have certainly changed in the last decade,” said Wells. “I have seen a lot of folks jump on the vegetarian bandwagon, and now even more are jumping back off. With the vegan and vegetarian lifestyles, there are more injuries and weaknesses for athletes. Runners naturally run low on iron because of their endurance workouts, and you can’t find iron in a better package than when it’s through lean beef. The trend is turning; people want beef.”

“So many folks are surprised when I tell them how lean beef really is,” added Wells. “They are shocked when I tell them that 51 percent of the fat in beef is monounsaturated fats. Until these athletes see the breakdown, they don’t really understand how good beef is for you.”

Wells said these promotional efforts are beneficial to producers because of their long-lasting impacts on the beef industry.

“Athletes are a group that our producers need to be focusing on with our beef checkoff dollars,” recommended Wells. “Often, these athletes are also leaders in their communities. Many are doctors and nurses who will pass along those positive beef messages to their patients just from seeing us at the booth or in the race.”

In addition to the Beef Endurance Team, beef booth and motivational speaker, the Kansas and Missouri Beef Councils also facilitated a question-and-answer session for the athletes with a local beef producer.

“We get so many questions about the differences between grass-fed and grain-fed beef, natural vs. organic, and different production practices,” explained Wells. “Speaking directly to a producer helps to share the truth with consumers and get the positive messages out there.”

Wells’ final advice for producers was to get involved in the fitness arena to help promote beef.

“If you have a beef running team that you know of in your state, go out and cheer them on,” encouraged Wells. “We want producers to see first-hand what we are doing. The beef jerseys we wear really have a huge impact. I encourage producers to get involved and see that their checkoff dollars are being put to good use.”

editor’s note: for more information on how to get involved, check out http://powerofprotein.blogspot.com.