The best nutrition to start 2021

I seek everyone’s blessings as we move forward to 2021. I hope you will join me in making the world a healthier place. It starts with you. It’s time for you to make that resolution.

I have worked with Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar. He is my benchmark of grit and adaptability!   -  S. Subramanium

This year has been life-altering for everyone. 2020 has changed the way we see our lives. Isolation has made us appreciate our freedoms. In the initial lockdown days, food rationing taught us the value of local produce and the farmer’s struggle to bring nutrition to your plate. Preparing meals at home took a new turn. Cooking classes online and recipe downloads were the jackpot discoveries.

As a sports nutrition coach, I hunkered down for a barrage of athletes to line up for nutrition plans. Instead, I got a massive list of business tycoons, CEOs and celebrities signing up for diet plans. The athletes ran away. Those that were already on sports nutrition programmes were not given a choice by me. Their weekly calls and monthly diet plans continued irrespective of the excuses they brought to my table.

Many learnings crystallised in 2020. As for the athletes’ minds, I realised that many are weak. They did not have the mental grit to endure the lockdown and isolation, and the mind’s ability to adapt was not seen. I have worked with Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar. He is my benchmark of grit and adaptability! Virat Kohli signed up during the lockdown. Immense focus and discipline. I silently compared each player working with me to their circumstances. I asked if this was an Olympic final and if the stress was high or is this a World Cup pressure situation and the storm was about to hit. Can these athletes weather the battle that rages within?

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Covid-19 threw a storm at everyone. Some succumbed to the infection. Those that did not catch it succumbed to the weakness of the mind.

Does this have anything to with a person’s food, diet, eating habits or lifestyle? You tell me. I would love to hear your inputs or comments on how you braved the year 2020. What did you do differently, or what did you do to manage this year? If you’re a coach, player, sports fan or just a normal human being like me, are you over the storm and is the horizon looking good? The vaccine is already out, and many in India are waiting for the announcement of when we can get a shot.

What will you do once you get the vaccine? Email me your thoughts. The best answer will get a phone call from me. I would like to tell you what I am going to do. I am going to catch a flight to Goa – I am from Goa! – and will surprise my parents and hug them (yes, after I ensure that they get the vaccine). I will embrace my athletes, my staff and my friends. Life has made me realise that it is more than just our jobs or the accumulation of money that most of us chase. Covid-19 has rendered your home, your cars, your bank account null and void. It has shown you that love, health, respect and the desire to live are the most cherished assets a person can have henceforth.

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I am grateful to all my players who invested in nutrition plans this year. Thank you for allowing me to earn my livelihood. I am thankful to all my staff at Qua Nutrition Clinics for being the healthcare givers in diet and nutrition. As a team, we have worked nonstop for the last nine months to ensure that everyone who desires to eat healthily and live healthy gets the right advice. I am also grateful to the entire team at Sportstar and The Hindu Group for bringing out the message of healthy eating via my column. If you missed the Covid suggestions from a dietary and supplement perspective, refer to my article at the pandemic’s immediate start in March 2020.

Make haldi (above) and amla the opening batsmen of your day.

 

Let me wrap up my year with you with the best nutrition tips so you can start 2021 with the promise of a better year.

  • Hydrate well. Buy yourself a swanky sports stainless steel bottle.
  • Eat five fruits in a day. Not the same. Different ones. It does not matter which. Just jumble them around.
  • Make beetroot your 2021 buddy. It will change your blood and improve your circulation. Two a day will keep the doctor away! Applies to ages 9 to 99!
  • Make haldi (turmeric) and amla (gooseberry) the opening batsmen of your day. Each of these has potent compounds that have tremendous strike rate at boosting your immunity.
  • Black chai, not white, will be the new fashion. Black tea is touted as a virus killer in a lab petri dish. So I say let us just have two cups of black tea in a day. Lose the milk. Milk adds to your waistline and 3kg weight in a year.
  • Appreciate ghar ka khana. Your household supplied the best-quality rice, roti, dal and sabji. Restaurants don’t. They are looking to profit. Low-cost raw materials, high-cost presentation, zero nutrition!
  • Meditate or take 30 deep breaths at 11am and 4pm. Deep breathing helps burn fat. Your lungs need to exercise.
  • Speaking of exercise, 12,021 steps is the magical figure for fat loss! Memorise this number. Get an exercise wearable. Wear it and start moving, buddy!
  • Customise your nutrition plan with a nutritionist. Don’t buy a new car. Get a trainer and me! Your new investment in 2021 will be a new wardrobe as you change your body. Your body is your only asset on this planet.
  • Sleep by 10pm. Wake when your body asks you to.

As I write this article, I am attending the virtual International Sports and Exercise Nutrition Conference 2020. Online meetings have changed everyone’s lives. The one thing that all the scientists are missing is meeting over food and drink. Humans need to socialise. Humans need to drink. Humans need to eat. The one learning that is being hammered home silently at this conference’s meetings is the need for personalised nutrition. Every human being is different. No one size fits all.

I seek everyone’s blessings as we move forward to 2021. I hope you will join me in making the world a healthier place. It starts with you. It’s time for you to make that resolution.

Here’s wishing you a merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Love, Ryan Fernando.

The author is chief sports nutritionist at the Qua Nutrition Clinics. You can email him at ryan@quanutrition.com.

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