The Indian badminton team created history by winning its maiden Thomas Cup recently. It’s been a long wait.

While we have developed technical skills over the years, I believe a significant shift has happened outside it. Many shuttlers now have access to state-of-the-art facilities, great coaches, trainers, physios, and an awareness of how they need to eat for their performance.

As a sports nutritionist who works with elite athletes, including PV Sindhu, I feel the future of Indian badminton will be in safe hands if we start feeding our young athletes for their performance and wins.

To build champions, there is the external stimulus and the internal stimulus .

The external stimulus is having coaches, trainers, physios, masseurs, mind coaches, and nutritionists as a part of the support team. There is also the infrastructure, the equipment, and the money required to invest in the athlete to sustain the journey to becoming the champion. The internal stimulus is food, sleep, and how the athlete thinks.

What do you think is more important?

As you climb up the success ladder, you understand that you can get the best of everything as external support. The sustained performance comes from inside. It is supported by your body, which needs proper training and nutrition to perform at its peak.

This internal excellence cannot be bought like your racquets or shoes. You need to build it. And you cannot build it in one day.

HS Prannoy, too, did a sports nutrition diet to understand what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat.

Let’s say you are a promising young badminton player, about 10 years old. Now you are likely to peak at 18 — eight years from now. You would have laid down the solid foundation from whereon you can build into an elite athlete and take on the best of the world. You will train hard, sleep right and eat like a warrior for a good part of a decade.

To the future champions who have big dreams, here’s an idea of what champions invest in.

An athlete eats 6-8 times in a day, which means you will be eating 17,520-23,360 meals over the course of eight years.

You will have 17,520-23,360 opportunities to eat for performance, recover better, have a good height growth, be energetic, stronger and fitter.

Moreover, you will learn the science of eating and understand how your body responds to various foods. Remember the day when you felt sluggish on the court and couldn’t make the right decisions bnxczecause of the food you had before the event which troubled your gut and slapped your brain?

You can eat for skills

As a badminton player, you can also eat for specific skills. Broccoli can help improve reaction time. Nuts, seeds & bananas can give you strength and power. For balance and coordination, blueberries and grapes are excellent. Collagen can help in flexibility, and beetroot can help develop speed and agility. Pumpkin seeds and Sunflower seeds (salted) for athletes help reduce cramping.

As a sports nutritionist, I believe even before a kid picks up any sport, the starting point is the mind and the eating strategies to gain height and mental development.