Delivering nutritional consultancy to International footballers and Olympic medallists is not something everyone has the luxury of adding to their résumé.
Dr. Mayur Ranchordas, 35, from Sheffield has worked with the likes of 10m diver Tom Daley, as well as England internationals Daniel Sturridge and Gary Cahill, during his nearly decade long career in the field.
How important is nutrition in sport?
“My opinion has actually changed over the years, I think it depends. That’s one of the things I’ve learned. They all say at university that “yeah it’s important”, but from my experience of working in the field I actually think it depends on the sport.”
If you take an immensely testing sport like competing in the Tour de France, nutrition is extremely important. The mass endurance involved requires meticulous nutrition planning and high energy consumption. If you do not eat enough or properly, then you’re not going to finish the race and you aren’t going to recover for the next day.
However, in other sports nutrition is not as important and Mayur suggests that you can actually get away with a poor diet and the nutrition is not as important. “Shot put or javelin, it’s not as important because it’s more about raw power and genetics.”
Sport nutrition really comes down to the sport; look at the demand of the sport and what’s the most important demand.
“I think that supplements are overused, I think supplements are overpriced, I think it’s a massive money making business and that 90% of supplements don’t work.”
Supplement brands make millions every year, well-marketed with their “promised results”. There is an abundance of supplements out their promising different things, muscle gain, strength gain, recovery and increased performances in training.
Zef Eisenberg, the founder of one of the leading supplement brands, Maximuscle, sold the company for £162m, in 2010 – the largest-ever investment in the sports nutrition sector, proving that it’s a lucrative market.
However, over the years Mayur’s opinion has changed concerning supplements, suggesting most supplements are in fact a waste of money. He considers that the only supplements that potentially may be effective are vitamin D, creatine, caffeine and possibly whey protein.
“Scientifically there is very poor evidence, so the first thing I suggest is that you get your training right and get your nutrition right.”
“You’ve got to devise your nutrition strategy based around an individual athlete”
A footballer will arrive at the training ground at around 8.30am and start training at 10am. As they rarely train twice a day you have to devise a nutrition strategy based around that. Whereas, a distance is very different because they do train twice a day, therefore the guidelines will depend entirely on the training program and the lifestyle of the athlete. “My philosophy is always you need a bespoke approach”
As some athletes will train up to 6 hours a day, those will be looking to consume approximately 4000-5000 calories per day. Conversely, some athletes will only train one hour a day so it might be more like 2000-2500 calories. The calorific intake depends on the goals of the athlete, considering whether the athlete is looking to increase muscle mass or are trying to lose fat, or just maintain weight. The advice will differ depending on the varied goals.
Making the calorie target isn’t everything though you have to look at what you’re eating; Mayur says “quality is always important, so I would advise sticking to whole food and natural quality rather than the cheaper refined products.”
“You have to have the stimulus, which is you have to be going to the gym three or four times a week at least. Then from a nutrition perspective, make sure you get enough protein.”
Ensuring you get enough protein is simple maths. Take your body weight in KG and multiply by 1.7 and that’s the amount you need to consume in grams.
I.e. Take a person weighing 75kg.
75 x 1.7= 127.5
So therefore the person will need to consume 127-128 gram of protein per day.
To reach this target, the athlete will have to make sure they distribute the protein throughout the day in 20-25 gram servings, every two-three hours, or so.
“Just eat enough, so you eat about 500 calories more than what you need, if you’re looking to gain weight.”
If you’re looking to lose weight then you need to do the opposite. You need to make sure your energy expenditure is higher than your energy intake and that you burn around 500 calories less than what you need.
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is a more effective method for fat loss than slow steady training for fat loss because you’re burning more calories and your metabolism stays higher afterwards – therefore your body is still burning fat several hours after exercise.
“The key thing for weight loss is that I suggest you cut down the carbohydrate intake and increase your protein intake and keep your fat moderate, just make sure you’re on a negative energy balance.”
- Sport and Exercise Science undergraduate and Master’s degree at Sheffield Hallam
- PhD in Sport Nutrition
- Sheffield Wednesday FC internship and has worked with Sheffield United FC
- Worked at the English Institute of Sport Sheffield
- Premier League football experience with Bolton Wanderers
- Supported athletes at Beijing Olympics 2008
- Professional doctorate part-time in Sports Nutrition alongside teaching at Sheffield Hallam – where he still works
- Consults in professional cycling and football
- Keen triathlete
- Favourite food: Milk
- Favourite supplement: Caffeine