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Nutrition and Food Studies Alum Glen Tobias on Keeping the Jets, the Sox, and Everyone Else Hydrated and Healthy


Glen Tobias (MS ’01, Clinical Nutrition) shares about his career as a nutritionist, from the NFL and MLB to private practice.

Glen Tobias in front of the Red Sox logo

When Glen Tobias embarked on his undergraduate degree at Rutgers University, he considered studying pre-med. But the more he thought about it, the more he realized that doctors are often used for sick care, and what he was really interested in was healthcare. So Glen went on to earn a bachelor of science in nutritional science from Rutgers, a master of science in clinical nutrition from NYU, and a certification as a registered dietician, and he was named a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a Board Certified Specialist in sports dietetics.

For Glen, whose father was a chef, nutrition proved the perfect intersection of healthcare and another great passion – food. “Food has always been a big part of my life, and I found when you’re speaking to people, they don’t care where you’re from, it doesn’t matter. Everybody eats, and we all have that in common. I can talk to anybody about food. And if you know a little bit about certain cultural foods, it goes a long way. So I just liked the ability to interact with people.”

Since NYU, Glen has worked in private practice with everyone from children as young as eight to professional athletes. During that time, he spent eight years working in the NFL and MLB, first as the performance dietitian for the NY Jets and then for the Boston Red Sox. Read on to learn more about how Glen landed those coveted roles (and his own World Series ring) as well as his thoughts on "dunch" (the meal between lunch and dinner), comfort food, NYC’s best restaurants, and more.

You’ve worked as a Sports Performance Dietitian/Nutritionist for both the New York Jets and Boston Red Sox; what led you to those positions and what was it like working with the world-class athletes within those organizations?
I started working with college athletes to put some credibility on my resume, as well as working for a couple of different companies that deal with the NFL. It led to a couple of interviews for professional teams. At that point, you just have to wait and see what happens; whoever takes you, you take it because in the NFL, there’s only 32 jobs in the country and in the MLB, there's only 30. 

When I took the position with the Red Sox, because I grew up in New Jersey (you know, Yankee area), people were like, "Oh, my God, I can't believe you went to the enemy!" But it's not like that. It's like if you're being drafted as an athlete, you go where they're drafting you. So I just found it very funny. But I did catch a lot of flack from high school friends and college friends; Between Rutgers and NYU, it’s the Yankees or the Mets. And I’m like, "Listen! It was a great opportunity. We won a World Series in 2018 and I have a World Series ring with my name on it. Not many people can say that." More recently, I interviewed with a team in another sport, but they wanted me to travel with the team, and I just don't want to do that anymore.

Football players and baseball players have very different physical characteristics; how did you approach each and make that transition?
When the opportunity arose to go to the Red Sox, I had already been with the Jets for four years. I thought of it like school: freshman, sophomore, junior, senior. And then I said, "Okay, I'm down." The Red Sox. The opportunity is there. It's a very different challenge, because it's a completely different athlete. The physicality is not the same. In baseball, you don't have 300 pound guys hitting you. But in the NFL, you only have 17 games. In baseball, there’s 162. It's mentally and physically grueling, because you're playing every day. It never stops. So comfort food is critical for a baseball player. After the game, late at night – higher fat, [like] meatloaf or mashed potatoes make them feel good and comfortable, so that they want to go home and go to sleep, because they have to play again tomorrow. It's a whole different way of looking at meals. Anti-inflammatory meals are important for baseball players who are going to be playing multiple games in a row, multiple days in a row. But for a football player, anti-inflammation is important because, come Monday, they’re beat up. I wanted the challenge. Football was great. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I just wanted to do different things.

Since moving on from professional sports, you’ve worked in the Atlantic Health System (in New Jersey) and in your own practice. Why did you make that shift and what does a typical day look like?
I’ve had my own private practice since graduating and then I also work in the Atlantic Health system, which is the medical team that takes care of the Jets; I work with their non-Jets patients that require performance, nutrition, and/or clinical nutrition. 

A benefit of Covid was that people are more receptive to FaceTime, and I do a lot of FaceTime with people all over the country and all over the world. On a Saturday, I’ll have 20 people lined up over 10 or so hours. To me, each person is its own separate entity, and they have their own needs, likes, dislikes, goals, and temperament; no two people are the same. From meal templates to supplements to exercise, it's unique to their goals. Some people just want to live longer and have the activities of daily living be easier. Other people are athletes, all different sports, that want to perform at a higher level. I am their "energy in" coach. Every other coach that these athletes have is asking them to put energy out. But I’m helping them put energy in. I’m a coach, so I have to be on. I have to be up. I have to motivate them, because it’s hard.

I am their "energy in" coach. Every other coach that these athletes have is asking them to put energy out. But I’m helping them put energy in. I’m a coach, so I have to be on. I have to be up. I have to motivate them.

Glen Tobias, MS ’01, Clinical Nutrition

What are your top three nutrition guidelines or tips that you think everyone should follow?
We need to drink more water. Typically, people are chronically, mildly dehydrated, and everything will function optimally if you’re fully hydrated. It also helps prevent injuries, because muscles need full hydration, and it will help prevent you from hitting extremes and poles. 

Go to bed earlier. Sleep is critical before midnight. The more hours you get before midnight, the better off you’ll be. Track what I call "up before alarm." I tell my clients, if you're waking up before your alarm, that means you're rested. Start your day earlier. That's fantastic! If you’re waking up to an alarm, you get up because you have a responsibility, but you know that your body still requires rest. 

And then, of course, food. For me, it’s how much and when over what. Everyone knows three meals a day. Three meals a day will keep you alive. That’s not always optimal for everyone. "I have a low at 3:00 p.m." That's because you’re not eating "dunch." "Dunch" is the meal between lunch and dinner so you’re not starving. It keeps your blood sugar up, so you perform better. Your mental acuity is better. Eat breakfast, sometimes a brunch, definitely lunch, dunch, and then dinner at 6:00. And, it depends what time you’re going to bed, but I also eat at 9:00 p.m. You need a supper. I think that more meals, more frequent meals, and mixing those meals – protein, fat, carbs are the paper, the sticks, and the logs – to build that perfect fire is critical.

What’s something that has surprised you in your career?
People look at me as the food police. Or like a priest (for food). They want to confess their sins if you will. But there's no bad food. People feel bad about certain things and want to associate food and mood. If you have a great day, a birthday or an anniversary, what do you want to do? You want to eat and drink! If you have a bad day, what do you want to do? Eat and drink! There's so much emotion in food. If you shoot for perfection, you're always going to fail because perfection doesn't exist. So the emotional component is so big and I definitely feel it at the end of the day. There's a lot that people go through – the good, the bad, the ugly. I get it all. There's a counseling component that is often overlooked.

Looking back on your life since NYU, what makes you most proud?
A student that I work with recently got recruited by a university for the football team and I got a long text from his dad saying he never would have made that without me. That validates me, that makes me feel so good, that I actually help. I work with a lot of younger people and I tell them, other than your immediate family, I could affect you positively more than anybody else. It's really very fulfilling. And, of course, getting that first position with the New York Jets, I felt super proud. When I was first hired with the Boston Red Sox, I was super proud, because these positions are so highly sought after and there are so few of them in the country. For me to have gotten two, I feel fortunate.

Glen Tobias headshot

Do you have a favorite NYU memory that you’d like to share?
I remember vividly talking to my dad, saying, "Dad, you know, if I go back to my masters by the time I'm done I'm going to be 30 years old." And he said, "Son, eventually, you’re going to be 30 anyway. Do what you can when you can and then eventually you'll have your master’s degree." I just wanted to get that degree. I picked clinical nutrition (over nutrition) because I wanted to be able to help people with different medical conditions. Again, it’s really about healthcare for me. I wanted people who have issues to feel better, without taking medications, or even just taking less medications, that’s a win. If you have a little less pain, that’s a win. If you have chronic pain, or an issue, and I can help you a little bit with that, it’s just a very fulfilling job.

NYU was a great experience. It's super well known and has a great reputation. I didn’t want to go anywhere where I had to say, "I'm going to XYZ University." I go literally anywhere on the planet and I say NYU and everyone nods. Their head goes, "Oh, yeah, okay, that's good." 

What’s your favorite:
Food? I like so many different kinds of food. I find the biggest issue is a lot of young people just don’t try food. They think they don't like things. There are so many different foods that I like. My top foods would be sushi, steak, and pizza. My wife is Peruvian. I eat a lot of Peruvian cuisine now that I never knew existed, and I think it’s the best food nobody knows about. I really just like all different foods. There’s very, very few foods that I don't like. 

You have to try things. It doesn't matter if you don't like sardines; I’m not on the Sardine Council, but I guarantee you've never tried. They have a bad marketing campaign, that's all. Everybody thinks they hate them. If you eat tuna fish, odds are you like sardines.

TV show and/or movie? Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, 300, Gladiator, and Braveheart. I’m a big swords and sandals fan. That’s my genre.

Song and/or musical artist? 80s Freestyle. When I was growing up and I was going into the city in high school and in college, when you went to the clubs in Manhattan, that's what was playing.

Way to spend a day off? I used to race cars. But I sold my track car, and now it’s just family time; spending time with my wife and children. My daughter is going to Fordham in the fall. My son is going into high school next year. We just go out for either brunch or dinner, and just spend time together. 

Place in NYC? The restaurants. I’ve been to most of the best ones. I love certain restaurants in the city. Just this past weekend we were in and we picked up our order from Ess-a-Bagel, went to Zabar’s, and picked up food there. I love Daniel. I used to go to Gotham Bar and Grill; then Alfred Portale opened up Portale, love that. Point Seven, great restaurant. Just the restaurants and the food. It has everything. I’m basically a fan of eating different foods, so that’s why we go into the city now nine out of 10 times.

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