Meet the Sports Dietitian
Kristen Ziesmer, MS, RD, CSSD, LD
Registered Dietitian, Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, Certified Personal Trainer and Owner of Elite Nutrition & Performance
First and only sports dietitian AND certified personal trainer in South Carolina
Kristen Ziesmer is a Registered Dietitian, Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, ACE-Certified Personal Trainer and owner of Elite Nutrition and Performance, LLC (ENP). She is the only board certified sports dietitian and certified personal trainer in the state of South Carolina! She is the past president of the Columbia Midlands Dietetic Association and is the nutrition expert for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s TrueSport program. Kristen is a highly sought after nutrition speaker and media source for trusted nutrition information. She has been featured on Fox News, CBS News 19, WIS T.V., Midlands Biz and is a speaker for local sports teams and organizations. In addition to speaking, Kristen provides nutrition counseling to a variety of athletes and clients who have nutrition-related medical conditions.
Knowledge and Experience
Kristen began her college career studying culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University before realizing that her true passion was in nutrition, specifically sports nutrition, and fitness. She obtained her B.S. in dietetics from the University of Maryland and M.S. in nutrition and dietetics from SUNY College at Oneonta. Over the years, Kristen has learned from and worked under a number of sports dietitians, and continues to learn from other sports dietitians in the field through professional memberships, leadership positions and obtaining continuing education credits by attending conferences and meetings. In the spring of 2014 Kristen was awarded the Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year Award by the South Carolina Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. She currently serves as the Columbia Midlands Dietetic Association president.
When not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Jacob, being outdoors, hiking, backpacking, cycling, running and playing with her black lab, Bella. She also enjoys cooking and experimenting with new foods, creating new recipes and eating them!
Awards & Certifications
- Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist (RDN)
- Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD)
- Licensed Dietitian (LD)
- ACE-Certified Personal Trainer
- South Carolina Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year
- TRX Certified Trainer
Hi there I’m Kristen, Registered sports dietitian, certified personal trainer and owner of Elite Nutrition & Performance! I created ENP several years ago while working at the University of South Carolina as a campus dietitian. During my stent there, many people outside of USC asked me if I could help them with their diet and training. Anything from training for a competition to helping them overcome an eating disorder. Back when I was studying for my undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland, I knew that I wanted to start my own business helping people live healthier active lives. However, it wasn’t until I got to Columbia that I realized there was a great need for someone to teach athletes and active individuals how to use food properly to fuel their bodies. That’s when ENP was born!
I’ve been an athlete most of my life…most. I was a dancer for over a decade (mostly acrobatics), played basketball and soccer, ultimately ending up a competitive swimmer for local team. Yes, I was one of those people who could eat anything and everything and not gain an ounce…up until I graduated high school that is. This is where the story goes downhill. I started my college career by going to Johnson & Wales University to study culinary arts. I was cooking and eating gourmet food five days a week and no longer exercising 2 hours a day. As you can imagine, the weight came flooding on.
I was completely lost on what to do. I knew that I wanted to lose weight but I had no idea how. I didn’t know what the difference was between a calorie and a gram of fat. I didn’t know what the role of carbs or protein played in my diet. I knew nothing about nutrient timing. Instead, I did what was easiest and started taking diet pills. After suffering through extreme shakiness and feeling anxious, I lost 30 lbs only to realize these things were killing people! I quickly threw them out and almost instantly regained the 30 lbs. Now what? I did what was the next easiest thing…starve! That summer I returned from school and barely ate, losing 30 lbs in the matter of 2 ½ months. What started as a benign attempt to lose weight quickly spiraled out of control into an eating disorder that lasted over 3 years.
I left culinary school to focus on my passion, nutrition. I pursued a degree in dietetics from the University of Maryland all while struggling with my own nutrition issues. I’ll spare you all the gory details but these “issues” ranged from anorexia, over exercising, binge eating and unsuccessfully attempting to purge. I had a horrible relationship with food and my body and struggled with body dysmorphia. After joining a group on campus called S.E.E.D.S (Students Educating on Eating Disorders), I realized I wasn’t the only one with this problem and wanted to get better.
I started reading every self-help book I could and nutrition book (written by registered dietitians, of course) I could. Between school and these books, I learned the basics of nutrition and started to put them into practice for myself. I learned how to eat mindfully and actually listen to my body. I ate when I was hungry, what I was hungry for and stopped when I was full. I tried to follow a workout routine rather than exercising in response to eating. I even got rid of as many “triggers” to my disorder that I could, including fitness magazines. I did everything I could to set myself up for success.
After graduating from the University of Maryland with my B.S. in dietetics, I got certified through the American Council on Exercise as a personal trainer. That’s the time when I started to get interested in triathlons. I had the swimming background and cycled a lot with my dad so I figured adding in a run wouldn’t be too hard. I was always interested in sports nutrition due to my athletic background. However, training for and competing triathlons made me realize just how important proper nutrition and hydration is in sports performance. I started reading, interning with sports dietitians and attended as many sports nutrition conferences as I could. That’s when I learned how to put together sports nutrition plans for endurance athletes that is as specific as how many grams of carbs to eat per minute!
After moving to SC, I started to shift my focus from endurance training to more weight training. I’ve always loved to lift weights and new that I put on muscle easily. After loosely joking about competing in a body building competition for years, I was encouraged by my husband and my co-worker, Sam, to finally sign up. After 8 physically and mentally demanding months, I finally competed in the figure division and was awarded 3rd place.
While training I learned a lot about myself, how the body responds to training adaptations and nutrition first hand…far more than any textbook could have taught me! I also accomplished something that I always wanted to do but never thought I would. This was way more than just stepping out on stage; I was finally able to prove to myself that I had totally separated myself from my eating disorder over the years. I was able to follow through with an intensive nutrition and training plan. I was able to balance eating to fuel my working body yet eat foods I enjoyed that still fit into my plan.
To say that my life surrounding my relationship with food, exercise and my body has been a rocky road is an understatement. It took several years, setbacks and trying again to get where I am today. It’s funny to hear my clients say, “you must only eat healthy food “or think that I’ve been this way my entire life. I tell them that all of this has been a process and it’s totally possible for everyone to live a happy, healthy, and properly fueled active life!