Team MightyFIT Spotlight: Jake Sankal
By: Christine Bean
Meet Jake Sankal, one of our Team MightyFIT ambassadors and Director of Sports Nutrition/Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach for the Washington Football Team. Learn about why eating according to your activity level is crucial, and why he loves the variety that MightyMeals offers.
How did you get your start in the fitness industry?
Jake: While playing Division 3 baseball at the College of Wooster in Ohio, I really started getting into weightlifting. Even towards the end of high school, I remember seeing how nutrition impacted sports and my weight room results. But, in college, I attacked strength, conditioning and nutrition full-force; it became my passion. After college, I originally wanted to be a baseball coach and follow in my dad’s footsteps, but I soon realized that I could have a profession as a strength and conditioning coach. I went to grad school to study exercise science, and landed an internship with the Cleveland Indians and their strength and conditioning coaches. It was an awesome experience. I ended up getting hired by the Indians, and I worked for 6 years as a strength coach for a number of minor league teams. As a strength coach, I found myself doing so much nutrition coaching with the players, and it made me realize that I could pursue this further. I dove into the four-year journey to study nutrition and became a dietitian. One day, I got a call from the Redskins saying they were looking for someone to fill both roles, strength and conditioning and nutrition, and they heard I was the man for the job. I am going into my 6th year here, and it’s been an amazing ride.
What’s your best nutrition advice?
Jake: Eat according to your activity level. It’s something a lot of people don’t think about, and most people fall into a rut of eating the same way everyday regardless of what activity they’re doing during that day. Your food intake should change based on your activity; training days versus non-training days, for example. The amount of calories and macros you consume should be different every day. Whether youre a professional athlete training hardcore or someone who is sitting in an office, you still have days where you are more active than others, so your diet should reflect that. Something we always emphasize here in the Washington Football Team’s dining room is to try to rotate your proteins so you aren’t constantly eating the same thing each day.
Why do you love MightyMeals?
Jake: I love MightyMeals because not only is it healthy, it’s delicious. A lot of meal prep services are so focused on the food being healthy that they don’t focus on how they can make it taste good, too. It’s not sustainable to just eat plain chicken everyday. Eating should be enjoyable. Our football players have so much stress placed on them throughout the day, both physically and mentally, so one thing they have to look forward to is a delicious meal. Another thing I love about MightyMeals is the variety. There are so many options, it never gets old.
How did you discover MightyMeals?
Jake: I think it was about 4 or 5 years ago that one of our players introduced us. MightyMeals co-owner, Dan Graziano, came by and brought us a bunch of sample meals for the staff and players, and everyone loved them. A lot of our players order the meals and bulk options frequently for meal prep during the off-season. It’s been amazing to see the growth of MightyMeals throughout the years.
What’s your favorite MightyMeal dish?
Jake Sankal enters his sixth NFL season with Washington in 2021 after joining the team as an assistant strength and conditioning coach and team nutritionist during the 2016 offseason. Prior to joining Washington, Sankal worked as a strength and conditioning coach in the Cleveland Indians organization. His tenure with the organization from 2010-15 included stints with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (A), Kinston Indians (A), Carolina Mudcats (A) and three seasons with the Akron RubberDucks (AA).
Sankal is a Registered Dietitian and holds certifications with USA Weightlifting and the National Strength and Conditioning Association as a Registered Strength and Conditioning Coach (RSCC) and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). Sankal initially earned his bachelor’s degree in history from the College of Wooster, where he played baseball and helped guide the program to the NCAA Division III Tournament in all four seasons of his collegiate career. In addition, he holds a bachelor’s degree in dietetics from the University of Northern Colorado and a Master’s degree in exercise science from Cleveland State University. He currently resides in Ashburn, Virginia, with his wife, Amanda and daughter, Emma.
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