Khelo India: Behind the scenes
Nutritional and dietary requirements are of the utmost importance for any athlete. At the ongoing Khelo India University Games, the organizers have emphasized nutritional and dietary requirements through a scientifically planned food menu.
Namratha Pramod, a nutritionist at the Sports Authority of India, has been involved in planning the Khelo India Games menu since the tournament was announced.
Speaking to the Sports Authority of India (SAI), Namratha explained the strategy that went into designing the menu.
“We have taken care of several elements including macro and micronutrients in every food we provide. We take care of athletes’ hydration by ensuring they are getting juice, milk and whole fruits they can take with them when competing,” Namratha mentioned.
A renowned sports physician and nutritionist, Dr. Divya Purushotham, who was a consultant to Karnataka State Cricket Academy and several IPL and hockey players, was hired for Khelo India in nutrition and diet planning.
Alongside nutritionists, Sodexho also worked on catering needs. The organization, together with experts, came up with a menu and presented it to SAI. Further consultations were held with SAI’s nutritionists to develop the final menu.
Sodexho’s Nitin Trikha said a lot of planning went into designing the final meal.
“We worked with them to finalize the overall menu, taking care of the number of calories, carbs and protein in a single meal,” he said.
Positive feedback from Khelo India athletes
The lengthy process has paid off as feedback on the food and diet provided to athletes and coaches at the ongoing Khelo India Games is positive.
While a protein-centric diet is offered to non-vegetarian athletes with several chicken and fish options on the menu, there are also high-protein options available to vegetarian athletes such as Jothi V from the host university.
“For me, since I am a vegetarian, there are vegetarian options such as Paneer and Dal, which are provided in sufficient quantities to offset the protein in our diet as well. We are also regularly served milk, eggs and juice on a basic good muscle recovery,” said Jothi.
As wrestlers, boxers and weightlifters are required to maintain strict weight limits, there are menu options to suit their needs to help athletes achieve their desired results.
Take the help of technology
Technological measures are also in place to ensure athletes are aware of the nutrients they are consuming at each meal.
“Each day we play an LED video of the nutrients in the foods in a meal at each venue. So if an athlete is weight conscious and/or asks them to maintain their weight to compete, they can choose accordingly, referring to the nutrient intake they need from the screen,” explained Namratha.
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Another major thought process that went on behind the scenes while designing the menu was to meet the needs of athletes participating in the Khelo India Games from different parts of the country.
“We have taken care that athletes come from all over India to give them a taste of what they eat and what they are comfortable with. Since Bangalore is hosting, we have also included several Karnataka dishes such as akki roti or Jowar etc to give athletes the flavor of the state,” she said.
Special attention is also paid to the fact that the food provided is of superior quality and that the athletes do not face any medical problems after consuming them.
“Samples of each food served at each meal are collected and stored in a refrigerated container. In the event of an outbreak of any type of gastroenteritis, vomiting, loose stools, etc., the samples will be checked for analysis by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).This also helps to maintain the level of food quality,” added Namratha.
Medical care in Khelo India
Medical personnel have been stationed at each venue to care for athletes who may sustain injuries during training and competition.
Several medical universities across the city have partnered with the Khelo India Games to provide all forms of medical support to athletes – including nurses, doctors, physiotherapists and pharmacists.
Medical vans are stationed at all Khelo India locations for medical emergencies with top level medical equipment and medicines.
BMCRI’s Dr Gokul Reddy said volunteers will notify doctors immediately if an athlete sustains an injury or sprain.
“The first volunteers will inform us if there are any injuries. Then, with the help of our medical staff, including physiotherapists, nurses and doctors, we will get the athlete off the ground. Ambulances have been provided on each Khelo India site for medical emergencies,” he said.
The response time from the medical team has been immediate throughout the tournament so far. Dr Sudip Chaudhary, PT of Rajiv Gandhi Medical University said:
“It’s the best medical care here. I was on the football pitch one day. We were giving immediate care to all the footballers, with all the important equipment they needed.”
With many heroes behind the scenes working tirelessly, the Khelo India University Games will be an unforgettable outing for athletes across the country.
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