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When many professional athletes finish their careers, they struggle with how to use their skills and knowledge to make a living. For former National Hockey League forward T.J. Galiardi, his path after hockey involved co-founding and becoming the chief marketing officer of TDF Sports, a sports nutrition company that McMaster has recently partnered up with. The partnership will provide McMaster athletes with TDF Sports’ supplements. TDF Sports specializes in plant-based and vegan supplements, such as protein powder, creatine and multivitamins. 

Galiardi played for the Colorado Avalanche, the Winnipeg Jets, the Calgary Flames and the San Jose Sharks. When asked whether he had relied on plant-based supplements, Galiardi mentioned that he had started using them late in his career, due to the fact that plant-based supplements were not widely available available or were unappetizing. 

“Later in my career, I did my best to stomach most of the plant-based proteins on the market but that was not easy as most made me want to gag! It took us almost 2 years to formulate a plant-based protein that we were happy with the flavour and texture — Plant-Strong Protein is a product we are very proud of,” Galiardi added, in reference to one of TDF Sports’ protein powders.

The benefits of plant-based diets are well-documented. They have been shown to help with weight loss, potentially prevent and help manage diabetes and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. However, not all individuals will experience the same effects on their health, which is why it is important to take all study conclusions with a grain of salt. 

A common argument against relying on plant-based supplements or diets (for example, the vegan diet) is that they lack necessary nutrients compared to animal-based supplements or diets. These micronutrients include, but are not limited to, calcium, vitamin B12, iron and omega-3 fatty acids. For example, a lower proportion of the iron in kidney beans, spinach, cashews and other plant-based foods will enter our circulation compared to the iron in meat. However, the American Diabetic Association reported that a plant-based diet can meet iron requirements. 

On the other hand, vitamin B12, a key nutrient for our blood and cells, is difficult to obtain without consuming animal-based products. Therefore, additional supplementation would likely be necessary when on a vegan diet. Mistakenly, many people believe that protein, a key macronutrient, is also lacking in plant-based supplements diets. Galiardi had strong words towards those that believe this.

Get on Google and look at all of the most up to date studies that prove this wrong,” Galiardi said. 

Brown rice and beans, whole wheat bread, quinoa and other plant-based foods can provide adequate protein for an individual if properly incorporated into one’s diet. 

A key unique element that Galiardi believes sets TDF Sports apart from other supplement companies is that they try to take an eco-friendly approach through a sustainable production system. 

“It is our goal to reduce food waste in North America, and to achieve this we divert near end-of-life produce that would have normally been wasted and divert it to our facility to be converted into nutrient dense powders which we use in our supplements,” Galiardi added. 

Galiardi is trying to lead by example by creating sustainable products. He hopes that this will encourage others to lead a more eco-friendly life. 

Plant-based diets have been growing in popularity among athletes and the general public alike. In support of this, and as a result of the growing popularity, there is more research being done on how plant-based diets can sufficiently provide the nutrients that athletes need to perform at a high level. Whether this trend will continue remains to be seen, although Galiardi believes that it will. 

“I believe that this trend will continue to grow as more athletes make the switch to plant-based diets . . . ” Galiardi added, “Earlier this month a movie was released called The Game Changers featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger and other elite plant-based athletes that highlights the benefits of plant-based diets for athletes. It is movies and icons like these who will help to push the movement even further, and I expect to see even more high-level athletes make the switch.”

Galiardi extends the philosophy behind TDF Sports to his personal life. Having been vegan for five years, Galiardi sees it as a lifestyle change that has many benefits and is not too difficult for most people to pick up. 

“I’ve been vegan for over five years now and the fact of the matter is, it’s not that hard if you put a little bit of thought and effort into your meals. There are restaurants all over the world with plant-based options and the category as a whole has grown significantly in the last three years and continues to do so at a rapid pace,” Galiardi said.

An area where TDF’s  plant-based supplements shine is in filling the nutritional gaps for athletes and individuals. It can be difficult to keep a balanced diet with all the stressors of life, especially as a student-athlete. 

“Many plant-based supplements contain a wide variety of healthy greens, fruits and/or other vegetables which provide an abundance of nutrients that many athletes lack in their diets. Although whole foods are where we should be getting the majority of our nutrients from, plant-based supplements will provide additional nutrients that an athlete may not be consuming enough of,” Galiardi mentioned. 

Many former professional athletes can lose their footing after they retire. This could be due to a lack of direction or a resistance to adopting a certain lifestyle, but these obstacles did not stop Galiardi. The transition to business was rather smooth for him because he was excited to embark on a new path. 

“By the time I retired, I was definitely ready to test my skills at something new so the transition was not that difficult. That being said, I was lucky enough to partner with Dr. Burke who has helped my transition from sport to business immensely,” Galiardi added.

Dr. Burke is the co-founder and chief executive officer of TDF Sports. 

“Dr. Burke and I were blessed to have great first careers, his with a successful business and mine with hockey. We wanted to create a business that made a difference for the customers and the planet,” Galiardi said.

A partnership with TDF Sports could be beneficial for McMaster as well as our athletes. Last week, we took a look at supplements and how effective they are. It is important to make sure we remain educated on supplements and the effects they have on us and our bodies. 


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