Are they actually following the plan? Is often the question I get embroiled with. You could write for your athletes the finest nutrition strategy in the globe: break it down by macros, timing, and even particular dishes that they should consume every day. But even the finest of strategy will not work if they do not follow it. I’ve questioned my athletes many times about their nutrition, and the answer I get back is as ambiguous as, “Yeah Ryan, I ate whatever healthy stuff I got here” When you are trying to achieve sporting excellence, hard training alone isn’t enough; you need to be accountable for what you are putting into your body.
Since most of the athletes travel for their competitions, they need to make nutrition decisions on their own and it is extremely important to educate them. They must be aware of foods that they are putting into their body and impact that it makes on their performance. We educate our athletes through one on one counseling with their nutritionists. The necessity & impact of each food item in the chart is clearly explained. In addition to their regular diet chart, competition guidelines are also provided to the traveling athletes, which includes foods that they will find in the local area & foods that they need to carry with them for competitions. When you plan in detail and involve the athlete in the process, you make them accountable for taking care of their nutrition needs and then “Yeah Ryan, I ate whatever healthy stuff I got here” is not an excuse anymore.
If athletes say they are eating healthy, we say – show us! If they say they are following the plan – show us! We have created a system at QUA Nutrition known as ‘Food Diary’ where we form a group among athlete, parents & nutritionist. Athletes/Parents are required to maintain their food logs throughout the day. They click the pictures of the food and share on the common platform for us to see what they are eating. This is an amazing space where we get a chance to share some additional inputs, to check if they are following their plan, involve in some hilarious conversations, witness shocking actions like self prescribing supplements (which you should not do. It is a killer) & some inspiring responses from young athletes.
We regularly do a follow-up with our clients. We check if they are comfortable with the plan, what existing issues are & how to overcome it, their progress, their training, tournament schedules and a lot more. Some calls stretch to up to 3 hours where we touch upon numerous points and carving the future path. Sometimes the information shared can overwhelm the client and they may miss out on certain points. So highlighting key discussed points are very important for ensuring compliance. We recently started to do a followup call summary with our clients where we mention key discussed points and plan of action ahead. It is working and is now yielding results. We are in the process of making it into a standard procedure.
I believe that athletes in their own self-interest should procure and cook their own food. Because when they buy the food by themselves they choose high-quality organic foods. When you choose high-quality organic foods that are free from chemicals your body would not have to work overtime and waste energy in fighting the chemicals rather that energy can be utilized for recovery. Also when athletes cook the food they can exercise portion control effectively. The cooking method and food intake can be monitored. To know how to cook is especially useful when athletes are traveling outside because they will not be getting foods that they are habitual to and outside food might result in upset stomach and impact the performance. If time is a constraint, cook food on your free day for the entire week and stock it in the refrigerator.
Check out how our client Jennifer Luikham religiously follows her diet plan and practices portion control.
Ryan, there was no other food option available, grumbles a lot of my athletes. My answer: carry your own food! To win is to PLAN. If you plan in advance you can get all your nutrition requirements arranged no matter which part of the country or world you are traveling to. The issue is that the players won’t be getting the same food that they eat at home, so they end up eating anything that is available at their disposal. This is where athletes need to be more disciplined. Carry to the training or competition, your own protein powder, nuts, puffed rice, chips, tetra bags of dairy. Every player requires to carry essential food items to their training or competition. What food you should carry and how much should you consume will depend on the type and duration of the activity. The older generation of players uses to carry their own Tiffin to the field, young athletes should follow in their footsteps. Carry your own food. It’s the secret of your energy.
My 8 year old swimming client packing his food items for the upcoming event.
We have a robust process at QUA Nutrition, one that has time & again has been able to produce CHAMPIONS. If you want change the way you fuel for performance, call us on 9743430000 or write to us at https://quanutrition.com/Contact.html.
Ryan Fernando is an Award-winning celebrity Sports Nutritionist with 2GUINNESS world record and 2 Olympic medals under his belt. His client list include Olympic wrestler Sushil Kumar, cricketer Shikhar Dhawan & bollywood superstars Aamir Khan & Abhishek Bachchan. He is CEO & Chief Nutritionist at QUA Nutrition Signature Clinics.