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Alumni Spotlight

Bryan Synder

Bryan Synder ('10), director of Team Nutrition for the Denver Broncos. Photo by Rob Trubia

November 29, 2016

Super Bowl Diets

Bryan Snyder (’10) helped fuel the Denver Broncos to their
2016 Super Bowl Championship

What does it take to power a Super Bowl Championship Team? UNC alum Bryan Snyder knows. He’s the director of Team Nutrition for the Denver Broncos. Snyder and another notable UNC alum, Broncos Head Athletic Trainer Steve Antonopulos (’72, ’73), are part of a team central to the nutrition, strength, endurance, energy management and overall health
of each Broncos player.

What’s your typical day like with the Broncos?  
My job encompasses food service, nutrition counseling and dietary supplement evaluations. So on a typical day, I’ll meet with the head athletic trainer and the head strength coach, and we’ll determine what body fats are, what weights each player needs to be at, and based off of that information, I’ll sit down with each player and do a one-on-one nutrition consultation. So each guy will have a complete game plan on what they need to do nutritionally.

What are the different nutritional aspects you focus on for players?
A big part of my job is recovery. We are trying to get players recovered within 30 minutes of every lift and 30 minutes of every practice by pushing shakes and sandwiches and other food. We have a full kitchen, so we’re basically like a full-service restaurant. We have the best chefs in the country, in my opinion. Those chefs report to me, and I write the menus. When we travel, I write the menus for the flights and for the hotels. It’s a quality control standpoint, making sure nobody is going to get sick. I also look at all the dietary supplements the players are taking, so they’re not going to have any health issues on the field by taking supplements that may have a bad interaction within the body.

What is game day like?
Very busy. It usually starts at 6 a.m. I’ll make sure everything on the menu for breakfast is ready and out for the players, and I make sure the food is properly prepared. I communicate with the executive chef at the hotel and make sure the food is the right quality and there’s a variety of options for the players to fuel up after warmups and after they come off the field. I get my bag ready for the sideline. I set up snacks during the game to keep them refueled. Sometimes they’re bonking, or they’re hitting the wall, tired or fatigued. I’ll make sure everyone is properly hydrated. I set up postgame food to make sure the guys get recovered properly. The guys who are more susceptible to cramping, I’ll put shakes in their lockers. Then we get on the bus, get to the airport, come home and start over the next day.

How did you get to the Denver Broncos?  
Well, it was surreal. Growing up in Colorado and being a Broncos fan my entire life, I was very grateful for the job offer — for the people who hired me to take a shot on a kid right out of college, and I was instantly grateful to UNC for giving me that opportunity. I know I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for UNC and my professors in the Dietetics department there. When I was hired, there was only one other full-time dietician in the NFL. We kind of just started from scratch. The nutritional foundations and principles that UNC gave me and that I apply here directly to the players is something that only a handful of teams in the NFL have, and that’s where the Broncos have set themselves apart. UNC’s been integral to where I am with the Broncos right now.