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Updated: July 26, 2012 11:11 IST

Sportspersons’ nutritional needs are different: expert

T. Lalith Singh
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Diet specific to the sport and event should be provided: NIN scientist

It is as simple as that. Can you put diesel in petrol car and expect it to perform properly?

For the dismal performance of Indian athletes in international events, one of the reasons pointed out by Y. Venkataramana, Head of the Physiology Division, National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), happens to be the lack of attention paid to nutrition.

Having worked long years with athletes and part of the team that came up with ‘Nutrition and Hydration Guidelines for Excellence in Sports Performance’, Dr. Venkataramana underscores the lack of focus on nutritional needs of sports persons in different categories.

The first mistake is the concept of common mess. “The nutritional need of a badminton player is different from that of a 100-metre runner or a heavy weight boxer. You have to cater to their needs and thus a separate mess and diet with suitable nutritional values should be provided to them,” he says.

Sports need to be supported with science. “We have talent. But if we do not drive sports with science, we will not improve,” he says.

The practice of same diet provided to a sprinter and a boxer has to go. “Diet that is specific to the sport and event should be planned and provided.”

Dr. Venkataramana also disputes the common approach of a coach being the all-in- one person. His prescription is to understand the importance of nutrition and roping in sports nutritionists to help the sports person perform well.

Common misconceptions need to be driven away. “Generally, it is said that ‘ser ghee and badam halwa’ will do wonders. But it is not true,” he points out. Another misconception, according to him, is more protein means more energy and he says, “That is also wrong and could, in fact, have adverse effect”.

The guidelines drafted by the NIN prescribed diets for different categories of sports depending upon the body weight and energy needs.

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