BOSTON (CBS)- Professional athletes are capable of amazing feats on the field of play. While those feats are a product of the hard work that they put in in practice and the weight room, it’s just as much a product of what they put into their bodies and how they recover. For the Boston Red Sox, the man guiding that fueling process is Team Performance Dietician Glen Tobias.
Tobias breaks his job down into four areas: hydration, sleep, supplementation and, of course, food. Working with the athletes, he creates a plan that accounts for their normal habits and guides them to areas of improvement in order to allow for their best performance out on the diamond.
“In terms of sports, every coach is an energy out coach. They have for different positions, different teams, all across the board. I, and other performance dieticians, are the energy in coaches,” said Tobias in an interview with CBS Local’s Ryan Mayer. “We’re the only energy in coaches that an athlete ever really has. They can only get out of you what we put into you. It’s really important to fuel the machine better.”
A crucial part of fueling the machine and therefore, Tobias’ job, is each athletes caloric intake. While you and I may have grown up hearing three square meals a day is needed to go about our daily lives, for athletes, not surprisingly, the intake is much higher. The most important of that intake? Not breakfast.
“As an athlete you want breakfast, brunch, lunch, dunch, dinner and supper. Technically, I want you eating six times a day not three. Three is so you don’t die, we have to excel and perform better,” said Tobias. “The most important meal of the day, regardless of what all of those cereal companies have told you, it’s not breakfast. It’s actually the meal you have right after your workout. You have to replenish what you just spent.”
And the elements of that replenishment are crucial. While protein is normally focused on as the star of the show, helping to build and repair muscle, Tobias points out that protein “only burns in a carb fueled fire”. So, for a post-workout meal, the break down he suggests is a 3-to-1 or 4-to-1 ratio of carbs to protein.
Though food and drink intake is a crucial part of maintenance for the Red Sox and all athletes, it’s often seen as simply that, fuel for the body. But, Tobias points out, food, drinks and supplements can be used to help improve an athlete’s sleep performance.
“The recovery is critical. I have people using anti-inflammatories like Omega-3 fish oil. Curcumin which is a component of tumeric the seasoning often found in Indian food. I avoid carbonated beverages. I like tart cherry juice, I happen to use the Cheribundi tart cherry juice,” said Tobias. “Powerful anti-inflammatory that also has natural melatonin to help you sleep better at night. If I can get you sleeping better, you’ll recover better, you can perform the next day.”
Sleep is an area that has likely been harder to come by, not just for athletes but all Americans and people around the world since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tobias notes that he saw how the pandemic affected his client’s routines, mostly by staying up later than they normally would have.
“Very difficult because a lot of people, when this all started, they were up much later because they didn’t have to get up at a certain time anymore. People were playing more video games and a lot of the players based on their age, like to play video games,” said Tobias. “So you have to have them, it’s called sleep hygiene. Going to bed at the same time every night that’s really important and getting up at the same time every morning, that’s great if you can get it. But, at the beginning of this, it was very difficult.”
While Tobias works with the Red Sox on their nutrition, he also has his own private practice at which he says he works mostly with young athletes in order to get them in the rhythm and routine of what the right things to put in their bodies are at an early age. For any every day athlete looking to improve their performance, Tobias has a few simple base lines to start with.
“First I would look at water. How much are you drinking per day? Whatever you’re drinking, you’re probably going to need more. Think about taking half of your body weight and put that in ounces, that’s a good place to start,” said Tobias. “You want to make sure you’re getting sleep. The earlier you can go to bed the better off you are. The hours before midnight are critical.”