With Indian athletes being empowered to compete on various platforms, the sports scenario is establishing a strong footing in the country. Effective diet and nutrition are an important part of an athlete’s training. A sportsman’s valued qualities like strength, agility, endurance, and vigilance are the result of his nutrition-rich diet regimen most often recommended. But why is sports nutrition so important? “If an athlete eats well, it shows up in the performance. There is a gradual improvement in performance,” Ryan Fernando, one of country’s best celebrity sports nutritionists to a host of eminent athletes, told The Bridge.
Nutrition for sport and exercise
While active living is important for the well-being of every individual, one cannot help but identify the significance of sports nutrition for athletes in their training and physical activities. Studies reveal that ensuring optimum nutrition levels boost the performance on the field, while the diet also contributes towards reducing the risk of injury and more steady recovery. “I have come to realise that sports fraternity starts eating well only after they are sponsored or supported. The best example would be a simple Sushil Kumar. He was from a very poor background…once the government started funding him, all the cash prize he would win would be put to consult with best nutritionists of the world. The irony is that we eat more out of convenience than out of sensibility,” explained Ryan.
Are we cautious enough to eat healthily?
Every athlete strives for an edge over the competition. Daily training and recovery require a comprehensive eating plan that matches these physical demands. Whether you believe it or not, nutrition is most significant for athletes because of the source of energy required to perform activities. The food that we consume, Ryan says, impacts strength, training, performance, and recovery. While the foundation for improved performance is a nutritionally adequate diet, almost about 95% of Indian athletes do not eat correctly, admits Ryan.
“We should all aim to eat a healthy, varied diet based on what matches our energy needs. There must be a certain regimented discipline for athletes to follow. The human body takes up some significant amount of calories, so if not eaten properly, there are chances of having a lower immunity due to over-training. It should be a protein-rich diet and your food should contain Vitamin C, including oranges, amla, and guava. Vitamin D is even more important than Vitamin C. Consumption of such foods will automatically boost one’s immunity,” he goes on to explain.
Where are we going wrong?
Active adults and competitive athletes turn to sports nutrition so that it helps them achieve long-term goals. Examples of individual goals could include gaining lean mass, improving body composition, or most importantly, enhancing athletic performance. Research surveys indicate the right food type, caloric intake, nutrient timing, fluids, and supplementation are essential to every individual.
“There is a wide gap between people eating too much and people eating too less. Team sports is very different from individual sports when it comes to nutrition. I remember having put out a request that the sports hostels in India should be not run by the caterers. It should have a professional setup, the mandate will be given to certain vendors to buy the best quality of food for athletes. In reality, the caterers will usually buy the cheapest quality of food to maximise his profitability in the market,” Ryan suggests.
Wuhan virus and nutrition
The deadly coronavirus has the world on edge. One can spot the signs of the alarm being everywhere, both big and small. You can see them in the faces of subway riders when someone coughs or in the eyes of an Uber driver peering above her face mask in the rearview mirror. One must have a sound immune system, as Ryan puts it, to help battle out the symptoms. “See, that’s where I have the best advice to athletes. That we should boost and build our immune system, so it is stronger. Therefore, the idea is to practice proper hygiene and to be aware of what to do during these difficult times. From the nutritionist’s point of view, it is always best to build a strong immune system so that the chances of your exposure to the disease are less,” he signs off.