TN players prepare for the Olympics with a nutritious, balanced diet


“Food before and after training is of the utmost importance”

Ryan Fernando of QUA Nutrition, based in Bengaluru, has been my nutritionist and food coach for six years. QUA Nutrition has personalized meal plans and Ryan put together a great diet plan based on my body’s needs. When I realized I wasn’t moving fast enough, I started cutting back on sugar and including more energy drinks. Previously, I used to eat a lot of fried and fatty foods, chocolates and ice cream, but I have stopped eating them for the past two years. I make a weekly follow-up call with Ryan and he suggests if any changes need to be made.

I don’t have a cheat day, but I have a cheat meal on Sunday, it would mostly be chicken biryani or butter chicken made by my mom. If I’m at home, I nibble on homemade bajji or bonda. My favorite breakfast dish is the appam with milk.

Since I traveled to Japan earlier, I know the food available there. I love their miso soup, ramen, sushi and other Japanese specialties. I don’t worry about the food they are going to serve in the Olympic Village. Here you will find all types of cuisines from Continental, Arabic, Indian, Mexican, Chinese, Korean, etc. Whenever I go to international competitions I send a photo of the menu to my dietitian and he prepares a diet chart accordingly. For me, the priority is to have a healthy diet before and after training and to make sure that I always stay hydrated.

– Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, Men’s Table Tennis Singles

“Nattu Sakkarai-based snacks satisfy my sugar cravings”

Arokia Rajiv, men’s 4x400m relay

Anything prepared with lots of masala and oil is a “big no” for me. I eat a fair amount of food for breakfast and dinner, it will be loaded with veg, protein and fruit. If I’m going to practice in the morning, maybe I’ll be back around 11 a.m. So I need enough energy to run in the morning. Sometimes the races are in the evening, so I don’t eat too much during lunch. I take food according to the needs of my body. If I have less magnesium or vitamins, I take food to increase their content. I don’t gain weight easily, but that doesn’t mean I eat too much fatty or sugary foods. If I feel like having sweet foods, I eat homemade snacks made with nattu sakkarai or palm sugar. It will satisfy my desires. Honestly, I am worried about the food that will be served in Tokyo. But I heard they would provide Indian dishes as well. Although the food is good at Patiala camp, I miss my amma’s chicken biryani and naatu kozhi kolambu.

– Arokia Rajiv, men’s 4x400m relay

“Packaging of garlic pickles in Tokyo”

Subha Venkatesan, 4x400m mixed relay

I am generally a bad eater. But now I have started to eat healthy. On the ground, I make sure to drink 4 to 5 liters of water per day. Staying hydrated is very important for any athlete. I also have fresh juices, coconut water, and lemon juice. My daily diet is simple, I eat a lot of vegetables and fruits. Whenever I travel for games, I take pickles and podis with me. Because I don’t know whether or not I will like the food provided by the organizers. This time I plan to have garlic pickles. I heard that Arokia also brings home made podis. Back home in Tiruchy, I love having sambar and potato fries made by my mom. She also makes incredible Pachadi manga.

– Subha Venkatesan, 4x400m mixed relay

“A balanced meal gives me energy”

Dhanalakshmi Sekar, 4x400m mixed relay

I stopped eating fatty and fried foods for a while because it drains me of energy. I drink fruit juices (apple / orange) and eat soaked nuts daily overnight. I also have protein shakes during practice. A balanced meal loaded with vegetables and protein is good for my energy level. I don’t eat anything fancy as it might upset my stomach. So I stick to idli, bread, rotis, rice, upma, etc. I’m not abusing because it could affect my performance on the ground. I have non-vegetarians at least five days a week. Sometimes I miss my amma’s special chicken biryani and keerai poriyal, but right now I’m focusing on healthy eating.

– Dhanalakshmi Sekar, mixed 4x400m relay

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