Sports Nutritionist Vs Googling Healthy Recipes

  • Fitterfly - Team Nutrition

  • Posted On May 24, 2019

In the movie Dangal, the father-coach Aamir Khan is seen pushing his wrestling champions to give up junk food, pickles and other carb heavy vegetarian meals in favor of a high protein diet. Even though the methods are crude, it highlights the need for those playing competitive sports to eat the right food. Nowadays thanks to advances in nutrition and technology, sports enthusiasts and professionals can rely on more scientific methods to plan their diet.

Unfortunately, sports nutrition is largely ignored at school and college level sports in India. As a professional sports person playing for an organisation or as the parent of a child playing any competitive sport, you know the kind of food provided during matches at the district, state and even national levels leaves a lot to be desired. The coaches are not equipped with the knowledge to guide you to set and meet your specific nutrition goals. This is why the onus is doubly yours to ensure you are getting the right nutrition every day. Remember, the diet of champions is what gives them an edge over others.

Fitterfly Sports Nutritionist Zoya Anis explains how you or your child can benefit from the right diet under the expert guidance of nutritionists instead of trying to come up with a healthy diet which is not backed by science or data.

Why a sports nutritionist?

Searching for healthy recipes works only when you know the type of nutrition you need. Depending on the sport you play, you may need certain nutrients more than others. Many people think that believe that all they need to do is increase their protein intake. However, a sports nutritionist can guide you to eat the right diet based on your body type, the sport you play and the position that you play if it is a team sport.

For example, a swimmer needs more body fat compared to a runner. In the case of a team sport like football, based on the position in the field the diet is tweaked differently for different players. A striker’s meal plan includes more of iron, folate and Vitamin B12 rich recipes to boost stamina whereas a goalkeeper’s meal plan is rich in omega 3 fats, zinc and folate to improve concentration. While all sports persons need a balanced diet to meet their daily Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of nutrients, these diet modifications based on specific requirements may exceed the RDA to create an ideal diet plan for you.

Why can’t people create their own meal plan based on these requirements?

Most people rely on their coaches or their own knowledge of diet and nutrition based on parameters like age, BMI, balanced diets etc. to plan their own meals or kid’s meals. The drawback with this approach is they lack the critical information to accurately gauge the nutrients in their recipes and the knowledge to gauge which foods to include to meet deficiencies based on their dietary preferences. Many people also believe that they need to increase their protein intake to improve performance without knowing whether they were having adequate protein to begin with. Also, the right diet can also help with mood and proper healing and recovery, which is why a sports nutritionist can help with specific details. However, if you have been using a Food Tracker app like Fitterfly and if you know the answers to these questions, sure you can go ahead and plan your own meals:

  1. Do you know the nutrients available in your daily diet?
  2. Do you know what foods to incorporate to provide the missing nutrients?
  3. Do you know which food sources have the best bioavailability of these nutrients?
  4. Do you know what to eat to ensure that essential proteins, vitamins and minerals are absorbed properly?
  5. Do you know exactly how much protein or fat or any micronutrient is needed to improve your performance and on the type of sport you play?

Before you plan your diet or the diet of your kids, here are some common myths that Zoya busts.

Myth 1: The right diet matters only during matches or tournaments

Another aspect that many people neglect is the diet during training. Most people who train for sports go directly after work or school. Back to back activity leaves them with little or no time to eat a healthy meal as they feel it will affect performance. Both adults and kids are worried that a meal before a workout will make them sluggish or nauseous during training.

This is why as hunger pangs hit immediately after their workout, they tend to binge on any food easily available in a cafeteria or street food. Junk food often is the only option or people end up eating sandwiches thinking it is a healthier alternative which doesn’t take into account their electrolytes lost during training or give them essential proteins and carbs.

If the training exceeds 45 minutes then it is important to much dates, raisins or a banana and to keep yourself hydrated it is important to sip water every 15-20 minutes or sip electrolyte drinks every 15-20 minutes if the training exceeds half an hour.

Myth 2: Follow the diet of champions

You might have heard about insane diets of famous athletes like Micheal Phelps’ 12000 calorie diet comprising eggs, toast, bacon, smoothies and more during the 2008 Olympics.Sometimes people are tempted to mimic the diets of champions but that is not practical or sensible because the right diet for you is different from another person.

Myth 3: Body Mass Index (BMI) is a good basis to plan a diet

BMI alone is not indicative of how the body is able to absorb different nutrients. Body composition analysis gives an in-depth insight into the ratio of lean muscle, fat and water in the body. When combined with the analysis of actual dietary intake or the daily food consumed, we get accurate information regarding how protein and other nutrients are being effectively absorbed.

Even if you are eating a balanced healthy diet, your body composition analysis may reveal poor absorption of nutrients because the right nutrient sources are important to achieve the desired body composition. For example, someone might eat a lot of dal thinking it is rich in protein but it may be insufficient because dals have more carbs compared to other protein rich foods like paneer, soyabean, eggs and meat. When it comes to post workout meals, you need proteins which are quickly absorbed instead of slowly digestible proteins, which is why giving your child a glass of milk (casein protein) is not a great idea. You’d be better off with eggs or soy.

If you are keen on a scientific approach to diet and nutrition, click here for the Fitterfly Sports Package.

About Fitterfly:

Fitterfly is a wellness company run by doctors, nutritionists and wellness experts with an aim to empower people with knowledge and tools for good health. We use personalized technology for everyday wellness. Our qualified Coaches at Fitterfly provide detailed customized guidance according to your age, health condition, and personal preferences. To know more, download and use ‘Fitterfly Wellness’ app from play store or app store or write to us at nutrition@fitterfly.com or just call us at +917045065225

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Disclaimer: All information here, including text, images, tables, videos and any other content is for your knowledge only and we do not guarantee any specific result by following these recommendations as it may vary from person to person. The information is not a substitute for qualified medical advice from a doctor or other medical health expert.