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Interview with Sports Dietician Bob Seebohar

Every athlete knows a key component to elite fitness and performance is nutrition, but most people need guidance on how to start a nutrition plan customized for their needs. Sports Dietician Bob Seebohar works with the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics and US Sailing Development Team to design unique plans for team members, based on their nutritional and fitness goals, their positions on the boat and their “peak performance” events. During a fitness camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., Seebohar, an elite athlete himself, gave detailed guidance to athletes about how to maximize their nutritional fitness.
 Bob Seebohar
US SAILING: How do you customize a nutrition plan for athletes? What do you consider?

SEEBOHAR: Great question!  The first thing I consider is which training cycle they are in relative to their sport and their strength program.  The second consideration is body weight and/or composition goals.  A nutrition program cannot be determined without these crucial steps considered first.  Next, daily nutrition is planned to support these first two concepts and finally, training nutrition including the before, during and after guidelines are implemented.  It is never as easy as telling an athlete what they should eat.  A full understanding of where they are in their season and developmental stage is of utmost importance.

US SAILING: What are “superfoods” for athletes?

SEEBOHAR: Superfoods for athletes include those that provide antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects.  Foods such as fruits, vegetables and omega-3 fats (salmon, tofu, green leafy greens) provide an athlete beneficial compounds that will help counter the high stress response of training.

US SAILING: Do you recommend eating a combination of foods – like protein with carbs, etc?

SEEBOHAR: Yes.  In order to balance blood sugar well, a combination of foods containing protein and fiber is beneficial. 

US SAILING: How important is protein for rebuilding muscle?

SEEBOHAR: Protein is important to support a somewhat aggressive strength training program.  It helps resynthesize the muscle proteins that are broken down during higher resistance exercise.  Timing protein before and after strength training is extremely important for the body to remain in protein balance.

US SAILING: How much water should a sailor drink while training and during an event? Why is being hydrated important?

SEEBOHAR: Hydration is important because even a slight loss of fluid from the body will result in a decrease in performance.  The amount of water consumed during training or an event is highly dependent on a sailor's sweat rate and environmental conditions but current research states that ideally, 3-8 ounces be consumed every 15-20 minutes.  Pre-hydrating before getting on the water is extremely important, especially for sailors who have competitions lasting longer than 60 minutes and drinking fluids is a challenge while competing.

US SAILING: What are the biggest nutrition myths for athletes?

SEEBOHAR: A popular one is that supplements are a necessity for all athletes, all of the time.  Supplements should do exactly that: supplement an already well-balance nutrition plan.  Additionally, supplements should be periodized throughout the year to support an athlete's training load.

Many athletes also think that the same nutrition plan will work throughout the year. The concept of nutrition periodization should be implemented which basically states that nutrition should support the training cycle and different loads that athletes follow throughout the year. There will be times when carbohydrate, protein, fat and water along with micronutrients will need to be higher or lower to support the various training cycles and travel plans.

For more information, please visit Bob Seebohar’s web site: