Popular nutrition professor Liz Applegate hasn’t left UC Davis since she came here as a student in the 1970s.
Born in a nunnery in South Africa, Applegate’s family of nine children moved around a lot for her father’s chemistry research before finally settling in the Bay Area. She attended UC Davis for both undergraduate and graduate school, received her Ph.D. in nutrition science in 1983 and started teaching right after.
Applegate teaches NUT 10 – Discoveries and Concepts in Nutrition –and NUT 11 – Current Topics and Controversies in Nutrition – four quarters a year, along with two smaller seminars for upper division nutrition students. NUT 10 alone has approximately 650 students each quarter as well as a notorious waitlist, making Applegate one of the most popular professors on campus.
In addition to her many teaching duties, Applegate serves as the team nutritionist for the Oakland Raiders and previously for the Golden State Warriors as well.
What does your research focus on?
I have one of the few positions at UCD in which I’m a tenured faculty member that spends virtually 99.9 percent of my time teaching. I am involved with the sports medicine group over at the Sac Med Center and recently participated in a research study about amino acid supplements. I had two publications last year, but that’s not what I’m judged on. I teach more students on campus than anyone.
Do you have a favorite class that you teach?
Anything that involves nutrition. All of them are great. I like the sports nutrition seminar because I have six students as opposed to 650.
I love NUT 10 though. I get to tie in really current news that the students are aware of and then tie it to science. I almost can’t say what’s more exciting.
What are your duties as team nutritionist for the Raiders?
That involves advising specific athletes based on their specific concerns be it weight loss or weight gain. They just finished the draft so I’ll talk to the whole team on general stuff like focusing on nutrition and immunity. People get sick when they exercise a lot and the travel.
Even though they’re professional athletes, I say that student athletes have a harder time. For [professionals], their goals in nutrition are easier than what the student athlete has. The Raiders aren’t taking midterms, they don’t have a paper due the next day.
There seems to often be conflicting studies about whether or not some foods are good for you, like eggs. How do you recommend people figure out what’s right?
That’s a challenge we actually cover in NUT 10. You have to wait for a good body of research to see what is the consensus. As for eggs, it turns out they are good in the diet. But if you go to breakfast, which is when many people get eggs, and get hashed browns and bacon and toast with butter then not good. Go for an egg omelet with fruits and veggies.
We need to learn also that moderation is absolutely vital in nutrition. I’m a big fan of Cheez-Its, but I wouldn’t live off them. One food is not going to kill you. You have to put it in perspective.
Are there any foods you would absolutely avoid?
What I like to say instead of “bad foods,” I really want you to eat these foods. And beans are top on the list. People say not to eat cheese, but if you were to have refried beans, which have loads of fiber, with some cheese on top then that’s fine. Looking at it through isolation is not the way to approach nutrition.
What do you aim to have your NUT 10 students take away from the class?
At the beginning of the class I tell them this is the only body you have and you need to take care of it.
What do you think of the dining commons?
I went there as an undergrad, my best memory of the DC is chocolate milk on tap. The new dinning commons are out of this world, they’re great. In fact, UCD is a model for other schools. We have some quite progressive food management in keeping up with trends. I’m in contact with them and talk about their choices in class.
Do you like to cook?
Oh I love to cook. I write for magazines and do recipe development. But I also do packaged foods, I just know which ones to pick.
What do you cook?
I’m Italian; so let’s just start there. I haven’t had a pasta I don’t like. Though I adore Mexican food. I love every type of cuisine.
Anything else you’d like to tell UCD students?
I think the big thing is really you are responsible for yourself. Consumers can create demand for better foods.
ALYSOUN BONDE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.