Nutrition Periodization for Endurance Athletes

Next Level Podcast with Host Tavis Piattoly, MS, RD, LD

Bob Seebohar- Podcast

Bob Seebohar, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS, METS
Bob is a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, the former Director of Sports Nutrition for the University of Florida and most recently served as a sport dietitian for the US Olympic Committee. 

Proper nutrition for endurance athletes involves a concept called nutrition periodization. Nutrition periodization is matching your nutrition intake to your annual schedule, a topic in which Bob Seebohar specializes. Bob is a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, the former Director of Sports Nutrition for the University of Florida, and most recently served as a sport dietitian for the US Olympic Committee. Bob traveled to the 2008 Summer Olympic Games as a sport dietitian for the US Olympic Team and the personal sport dietitian for the Olympic Triathlon Team.

Bob has a bachelor's degree in Exercise and Sports Science, a master's degree in Health and Exercise Science and a second master's degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition.  He is a registered dietitian, exercise physiologist, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and a High Performance Triathlon Coach.  As a nutrition coach, Bob specializes in enhancing health and improving performance by improving metabolic efficiency and using nutrition periodization, which provides varying nutrition recommendations to each specific athlete based on training cycle changes and body composition and weight goals.

Bob has worked with a variety of athletes from sports including triathlon, duathlon, ultra-running/cycling, track and field, marathon, mountain biking, road and track cycling, cross country, swimming, football, tae kwon do, motocross, tennis, wrestling, weightlifting, rowing, skeleton, sailing, paralympic sailing, canoeing and kayaking.  He has worked with all ages and abilities of athletes including high schoolers/juniors, recreationally active adults, professional athletes and Olympians.  Bob currently consults as a sport dietitian for US Sailing (Olympic and Paralympic sailors) and the USA Triathlon National Team.

Practicing what he preaches, Bob has been an athlete his entire life growing up playing competitive soccer.  In 1993 he turned to endurance sports and has competed in many endurance events including the Boston Marathon, six Ironman races, the Leadville 100 mile trail race, the Leadville 100 mile mountain bike race and in 2009, Bob became a Leadman, completing all six of the Leadville endurance events in 7 weeks.  Currently, he is specializing in short course triathlon training and competition to see how fast he can get!

In this podcast you will learn:

  1. Bob's career choice and what made him want to become a Sports Dietitian?
  2. What lead him to having a passion for working with Endurance Athletes?
  3. Nutrition Periodization and how it applies to athletes?
  4. Metabolic Efficiency Training?
  5. Bob’s unique dietary experiment on himself?
  6. The challenges of switching from a mostly plant based diet to a high fat, higher protein and lower carb approach, especially while training?
  7. If his personal experiment is something he applies to his clients and athletes?
  8. Any supplements he recommends to his endurance athletes to assist in performance, recovery and hydration?
  9. Tips on the importance of nutrition and how it impacts a young athlete’s performance?

Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode

Podcast Transcript

0:00 Next Level Podcast Intro 

0:45 Introduction and welcome to Bob Seebohar, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS, METS 

4:53 What made you want to become a sports dietitian? 

  • Bob grew up as an athlete playing sports such as soccer and basketball and loves the human body and the way it moves. 
  • Bob wasn’t sure what he wanted to do after high school, but knew he had a passion for sports and physiology. He always knew that nutrition was a big missing link for his sports career and during his graduate degree he began fostering a passion for understanding nutrition and metabolism and took an opportunity to work with athletes at his school.
  • Nutrition picked him, and ultimately Bob fell into it due to his love for athletics and being an athlete himself. 

7:00 What led you to having a passion for working with Endurance Athletes?

  • Finished almost last in his first triathlon, which sparked a desire to improve and strive for excellence. 
  • After this, Bob began transitioning into becoming an endurance athlete himself and worked to understand everything that he could about nutrition for endurance athletes and what they need. 
  • Blossomed into an endurance athlete sports dietitian, so to speak. 

10:17 What is Nutrition Periodization all about and how does it apply to athletes?

  • Nutrition periodization is looking at any athlete with particular seasons (-on, -off, base training etc.). 
  • Athletes are going through different cycles of training and ultimately have different goals within each training cycle. 
  • Nutrition periodization supports the needs of the athletes’ body based on their training cycle, which is key. 
  • Periodization takes into consideration volume, intensity, and what are you trying to do in terms of energy requirements to manipulate weight gain, loss, strength, power, body composition etc. 
  • Eating to train not training to eat. If you are trying to build mass - consuming the right foods pre-, during, and post- to support what you are doing. 
  • Ultimately, nutrition periodization is cycling your nutrients based on what your body needs at that particular training cycle. 

13:46 What is Metabolic Efficiency Training?

  • Taking the concept of teaching the body to use more of its internal (stored) fat and utilizing that versus using stored carbohydrates. 
  • There is an opportunity for athletes to manipulate the amount of fat they are using for energy and preserve carbohydrates. Training the body to keep carbohydrates at bay until they are really needed. 

15:50 Can you describe the dietary experiment you conducted on yourself and why? 

  • Bob wanted to see if he could change his body’s ability to use fat and store carbohydrate better, but more importantly change his blood markers. 
  • Bob embarked on a 30-day carnivore diet and did metabolic and blood marker testing on both day 1 and day 30 for comparison 
  • Bob found that his body weight changed, he was feeling full longer, he felt that he had more energy while training as well as recovered better. 
  • Bob also saw positive results in his blood work at the end of the 30-days compared to day 1. 

20:28 Did you experience any challenges of switching from a mostly plant based diet to a high fat, higher protein and lower carb approach, especially while training?

  • The biggest problem Bob experienced was finding fat to consume. 
  • Bob wanted to challenge the controlled carbohydrate, higher fat plan with various energy system demands. 
  • Bob did not see any negative differences in his performance and is now supporting a leaner physique, which he feels is beneficial to the demands of being an endurance athlete. 

25:45 Is your personal experiment something that you apply to your clients and athletes?

  • The number 1 goal Bob has for any athlete he works with (regardless of athlete goals, age, sport, position) is how do we best control blood sugar, improve health, and optimize performance. 
  • Then Bob analyzes what nutrition strategies may be beneficial for where the athlete is in their progression in sport. 
  • With younger athletes, Bod emphasizes putting foods together to support training and growth and development. 
  • Bob’s techniques with athletes vary significantly from athlete-to-athlete and even gender-to-gender 

27:00 Are there any supplements you recommend to his endurance athletes to assist in performance, recovery or hydration?

  • The supplements that he often has discussion with his athletes involve caffeine (proper use, not abuse), sodium (there are some acute sodium loading techniques that he utilizes to allow athletes to better preserve their hydration status a bit better), vitamin D, and omega-3 fish oils. Omega-3s are the supplement he most often discusses, particularly for health reasons. 
  • Bob’s goal is to get athletes well educated about nutrients (food), about nutrient periodization (using nutrients) and lastly are there supplements that can improve performance and recovery. 
  • Athletes (especially young ones) often forget that nutrition is only 1 piece of the puzzle to improving performance and all pieces need to be addressed for an athlete's performance to truly be optimized. 
  • Is there a single pill that can optimize performance or recovery or is it a combination of taking care of yourself from all aspects? 

29:52 What are some tips on the importance of nutrition and how it impacts a young athlete’s performance?

  • Don’t take for granted what everyone is telling you - the field of sports nutrition has been around for a long time, and we keep on finding different ways to improve the athletes response to nutrition.
  • Don’t neglect when parents, coaches, buddies, or teammates are suggesting that you do something. 
  • We don’t know what else is what else is out there to make nutrition even better. 
  • The power of using simple foods as recovery tools, hydration management, performance tools, at different times to improve health and performance. 

31:45 Closing Remarks by Tavis and Bob Seebohar contact information 

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