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‘Supplements can’t help if one doesn’t have a balanced diet,’ says sports nutritionist Mitali Ambekar

‘Supplements can’t help if one doesn’t have a balanced diet,’ says sports nutritionist Mitali Ambekar

Suraj Iyer

Published: 21 May 2020 2:35 PM GMT

Mitali Ambekar, a successful nutritionist with a post-graduate in Sports Science and Fitness Nutrition, has a decade’s worth of experience. In an exclusive interview with The Bridge, she shared her thoughts about the situation before, during and after the lockdown.

Being an athlete herself, sports is something that she has always wanted to be a part of. She did not want to go with the crowd and end up in a conventional job as a doctor, lawyer or engineer. Explaining this to her parents and relatives however wasn’t as easy; Mitali faced constant opposition.

In general, people tend to lean towards jobs that pay well and that are well respected. At least back when Mitali started, people weren’t aware of a community that was dedicated towards sports and sports nutrition.

Mitali Amberkar Mitali Amberkar (Source: Instagram/mitaliamberkar)

When asked regarding the possible rise in eating disorders due to the lockdown, she said “It depends from person to person and condition. If someone has been living alone, there are more chances of going through anorexia and such eating disorders. The ones home alone are going through a really bad phase as they might not have a lot of people to talk to.”

Another group of people are the ones who aren’t exercising and due to the lockdown have been encouraged to follow a sedentary lifestyle. Unapologetic and genuine, Mitali said, “They’re lazy, honestly. They end up with excuses such as not having workout equipment and are highly likely to put on more weight. The pressure then comes from family and peers who tell the person that they’ve put on a lot of weight.”

This would result in a person falling into an unhealthy cycle in mental stress and physical health. Help and support during a time like this makes a vast difference in a person’s physical and mental health. Some companies have utilized this situation as a marketing gimmick and selling certain products, that claims to boost immunity.

When you are eating balanced, there is minimal to no requirement of supplements. We may end up giving people supplements but that is case specific, not everyone needs it. A balanced diet usually covers the entire necessary nutrition intake that the body needs and in case of deficiency or specific requirement, supplements are prescribed.”

An exception to this would be the consumption of Vitamin D supplements as many metropolitan cities have houses not facing direct sunlight. Mitali’s advice is that before consuming any vitamin or supplement, consulting a professional should be the norm as self-prescription is not an ideal approach.

Being an athlete herself, she gave some tips for athletes to preserve muscle and strength. “They should increase the existing amount of protein a little higher. Once they do, the level of carbohydrates (which other if taken in excess can increase fat) will automatically go down because protein has a higher satiety rate. “Athletes can opt for bodyweight exercises (multiple options like HIIT, Functional training) to keep up their physical activity up”, she said.

Having a vast experience in the field that spans over a decade, Mitali has worked with athletes and patients suffering illnesses alike. Various studies have been published regarding nutritional value being a catalyst to a better quality of life and health improvements, among people suffering from terminal illnesses such as cancer.

Fitness and wellness Running representational image (Source: Forbes)

When asked about the similar importance in people battling Covid-19, Mitali replied, “The virus in itself may not be as deadly, but we don’t know for sure yet. A lot of research is going on and infection and recovery depend on several factors. However part of the solution lies in our immunity. Patients have been told to increase their vitamin C and D intake. Another thing is you have to eat regular fresh meals, getting enough nutrition with the existing food. One should even take care of the acid levels in the body. As an acidic body is always prone to infections which is why healthy and regular meals should be the norm which includes all kinds of food. Spices can aid in reducing inflammation especially when consumed in a form of concoction. As it helps cure sore throat, cold and cough naturally.

For people aspiring to make a difference in the world of sports and nutrition, Mitali had one suggestion. “Take up a course that interests you. Over a period of time, you will have more exposure, meet more people, and learn from them and your hands on experiences. This will help them decide on how to go about pursuing their career, as it is an ever evolving field.

Just like Mitali, if you are someone who is keen on building a career in the field of sports and nutrition, you can opt for courses basis your area of interest. Let that be handling athletes, lifestyle coaching, clinical patients, sports science, etc. There are multiple courses and degrees available right now to take up and rock it.

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