‘Food First’ approach for budding athletes is most important – Dr. Geetanjali Bhide

Success in sports is a combination of various factors with nutrition and fitness being the most prominent ones. In order to excel in sports, an athlete needs to train, sustain and remain in the best of form and fitness, all of which requires optimal nutrition, physical training and psychological guidance.

The Association of Sports Nutrition & Fitness Sciences is a platform providing athletes and sports enthusiasts with an all round guidance in the field of sports, with specialisation in sports science related areas including ‘Exercise Physiology’, ‘Sports Nutrition’, ‘Sports Psychology’, ‘Sports Physiotherapy’, ‘Sports Medicine’, ‘Fitness Training’ and a lot more.

In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, Dr Geetanjali Bhide- Secretary, Association of Sports, Nutrition and Fitness Sciences, discussed her organization, the educational initiatives it has undertaken for coaches and athletes and elaborated about the importance of Sports nutrition.

Q 1) What was the vision behind the formation of the Association of Sports, Nutrition & Fitness Sciences?

Ans: The capacity to sustain and excel in sports depends on the right training, nutrition, mental training and rehabilitation. Considering the importance of training nutrition, psychology, sports medicine, physiotherapy in the holistic development of athletes, the association brings experts from all these allied fields together to nurture the Indian athletes. 

ASNFS is a registered association and the founder members are experienced senior academicians who have been working in the sports field- Dr. Kasturi Sen Ray- President, Dr Subhadra Mandalika- Senior Vice President and Dr Meena Godhia- Vice President. 

Q 2) Who are the Professional Athletes or Sports Federations you provide Sports Nutrition & Fitness Sciences advice to?

Ans: Life-Members of the association work with different athletes at the grassroot level as well as elite level. Sports nutritionists and sports sciences experts work with institutes like Army Sports Institute, Army Rowing Node, Sports authority of India, Reliance Foundation Youth sports. Life members are also associated with various national level teams, and individual elite athletes. Our association was also a part of Khelo India- Pune-2019 wherein fitness assessments and nutrition counselling was done for the athletes. 

Q 3) Which are the most common dietary myths & fallacies people or even athletes believe in?

Ans: The myths and fallacies of athletes regarding diet are highly variable, differ with region, and also with the type of sport. A boxer will have different myths and fallacies than a cricket player. Some athletes still believe that gallons of milk, ghee, meat, almonds, can boost performance. The impact of social media influencers is very high on athletes. Athletes try to adopt and follow diet strategies followed by senior well known athletes. Some suddenly decide to be vegans or follow keto diets and give up after some time. These practices can certainly have a negative effect on health and performance. Athletes must seek advice from a qualified sports nutritionist.

asnf-logo-png 'Food First' approach for budding athletes is most important - Dr. Geetanjali Bhide

Q 4) How do you intend to educate the coaches and athletes about the importance of sports nutrition? 

Ans: The association nutritionists regularly conduct nutrition education sessions for coaches and trainers. The association has also developed “Fundamentals of Sports Nutrition” a certificate course in collaboration with Chandrashekhar Agashe College of Physical Education, Pune for coaches, physical education teachers. The course is developed to  help the coach/physical education teacher to understand how to implement a nutrition plan given by an expert sports nutritionist. 

Q 5) What are the other educational initiatives of the Association? 

Ans: The association regularly conducts webinars on sports sciences to disseminate evidence based guidelines to nutritionists and allied health professionals. 

The association has recently launched a 4 month E certificate course-Sports Specific Nutrition Management-  to help dietitians, nutritionist to upgrade their professional skills in the field of sports nutrition. The course is developed and conducted  by senior academicians and renowned practicing  sports nutritionists. Moreover, the course focuses on the nutritional needs of Indian athletes, translating nutritional guidelines to suit Indian sports settings. 

Q 6) How is ASNFS different from other organizations in this field?< Ans: Association of Sports, Nutrition and Fitness Sciences brings together nutrition, physiotherapy, psychology, sports sciences, sports medicine together to nurture and help the Indian athlete. The association is not restricted/limited to only one specialization. It strongly believes in a holistic approach that helps the athletes perform well.

Q 7) What would you advise budding athletes on balancing diet and fitness regime?

Ans: The budding athletes should focus on balanced diets, the food first approach is most important. Eating meals on time as per training schedule, hydration and also sleep is important to attain a better level of fitness, adapt to the changing demands of training in different phases. Nutritional supplements or ergogenic aids are like icing on the cake. Young athletes should be careful and cautious about supplements and follow appropriate supplement consumption strategies suitable for their field. 

Q 8) What are your future plans at ASNFS? 

Ans: The association aims to bring together more nutritionists and sports professionals  who can share, exchange evidence based knowledge, and upgrade their skills to ultimately help the Indian athletes to achieve their goals. Also, the association plans to host an International conference on sports nutrition and fitness sciences very soon. 

Q 9) What are some of the dietary or nutritional tips for our readers that they can easily bring into practice in their daily lives

Ans: Don't over eat or don't eat fat and sugar rich foods. Drink plenty of water/fruit juices without sugar. Eat balanced healthy homemade food.

Medicine in your kitchen- include turmeric, ginger, garlic and various spices in your daily diet to boost immunity in these testing times.

Stay home-stay safe, mask up when out. 

Dr Geetanjali Bhide- Secretary, Association of Sports, Nutrition and Fitness Sciences.


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