India tennis champ's nutritionist Sayali Naik explains how she helped improve his overall fitness, recovery and on court challenges
Sumit Nagal with Sayali Naik. Pic/Sayali's personal collection
India tennis ace Sumit Nagal's career has seen an upward swing this year, with him winning the Rome Challenger in April. It was the first ATP title won by an Indian in almost three years, with the previous winner being Ramkumar Ramnathan in Bahrain in 2021.
In subsequent interviews Nagal has said that he is feeling a lot fitter and moving better, particularly on clay, which is known to be a challenging surface. Incidentally, it's been six months since Nagal's association with sports nutritionist Sayali Naik. And a well-structured nutrition plan seems to have benefitted the tennis champ.
"I have been working with Sumit for around six months. He approached me as he was looking at improving his overall fitness, recovery and on-court challenges. I have helped him realign his understanding of sports nutrition on why eating rights types of foods, in right amounts, in right timings, and in right combinations can help improve his on court stamina," Naik, 27, who is also the founder of Bullseye nutrition, told mid-day recently.
In a tough sport like tennis, which involves global travel, home-cooked healthy food is a luxury no one can afford. Here's where Naik's advice has helped Sumit. "I plan his meals differently when he is in India, and guide him differently when he is travelling for his matches worldwide. Every place he travels to has different weather conditions, different cuisines and even his training timings and training load differ. So, meals are suggested to him after assessing all these factors," said Naik, a Santacruz resident.
Hydration is also crucial for sportspersons, and Nagal is no exception. "Given the heavy sweat rate he has and the hot weather conditions that tennis is played in, even a little dehydration can hamper his performance. So, we have worked a lot on his hydration strategies both while training and during match days. Hydration guidelines include not just fluid amounts but also electrolyte in-take," explained Naik.
On the solid-food front, Nagal has been advised a diet rich in carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats. "He needs food items in every meal that can help him cover his daily calorie needs, sustain energy on the court and help him recover better which is the most important thing for an athlete. I've added an array of supplements that help him enhance his power output and also takes care of additional athletic needs based on his activity load, matches and training needs. These include whey protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, joint health supplements, etc," added Naik.
Nagal, meanwhile, cannot be more grateful. "It has been a pleasure working with Sayali. She has been very professional and helpful to me in overcoming some of my match-related fitness aspects. She has also helped me plan my training and match-day nutrition. It definitely feels great on the court and the body feels good with her help," said Nagal.