'Surya has the mindset of an elite athlete and prioritises his performance over everything else. So, cheat meals are a rarity. He does not crave for junk or comfort foods since the time he has started following the diet.'
No cheat meals, elimination of carbs and addition of caffeine: Suryakumar Yadav has taken the road less travelled to reach the top.
His 360-degree game was achieved owing to systemic planning, and changing the diet was one of his biggest off-field achievements.
Renowned dietitian and sports nutritionist Shweta Bhatia, who worked with the world's number one T20I batter, gave some fine insights into how meticulously the cricketer planned the work on his body.
"We have been working with him since the past one year. He was looking at improving his overall fitness. I have helped him realign his understanding of sports nutrition," Bhatia told PTI on Monday.
Bhatia said that Surya's diet was built on a five-point agenda.
Firstly, boost performance during both training and matches. Second and most important, help him maintain body fat within the athletic zone (12-15%).
Thirdly, his diet should help him remain cognitively alert/energetic. The fourth point was about reduction of the need to refuel constantly with lesser cravings. Last but not the least, was promoting recovery, which is a must for an athlete.
To increase his agility levels, Bhatia reduced his carbohydrate intake to minimum level for optimum results.
"The latest research shows how performance can not only be maintained but improved with a structured low carb plan," she said.
"We eliminated excess carbohydrates from Surya's diet. His diet consists of healthy fats like nuts and Omega 3s. He consumes a lot of first-class proteins from non-vegetarian sources (eggs, meats, fish), dairy and fibrous carbohydrates from vegetables."
"Hydration guidelines that is fluid and electrolytes are provided for the intra-match/intra-training period. Activity specific, sports performance boosting supplements are added pre, during and post training.
"These include whey protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, joint health supplements to name a few. The basic plan is modified from time to time as per the match, training and travel schedules. I plan the menu, suggest healthy alternatives and cuisines to avoid monotony," Bhatia added.
Surya's extraordinary batting skills has left the cricket universe awestruck, and this is the reward of unbelievable amount of work he's put in to attain peak fitness in the last one year, resulting in better execution.
If Surya's swept six off a 135kmph delivery from pacer Richard Ngarava was a mix of skill, timing and explosive power, caffeine could be one of the contributors.
Caffeine is a power booster and is one of the "power supplements" that Surya drinks, which helps in generating explosive power.
"I work with his strength and conditioning coach. I am briefed about the training protocols and the diet is adjusted accordingly. Supplements that enhance power output have been included. Overall, the diet must match the training intensity for best results."
The hunger to succeed, and the subsequent achievements, requires extreme sacrifices. The most difficult part is to let go of the little joys of life, like an ice-cream at the end of a dinner, or enjoy a mutton biryani or a pizza.
Bhatia is extremely proud of her client.
"Surya has the mindset of an elite athlete and prioritises his performance over everything else. So, cheat meals are a rarity. He does not crave for junk or comfort foods since the time he has started following the diet.
"When it gets monotonous, allowance is made for healthier options. If he does feel like having one, cheat meals are planned strategically. I guide him with the amount and time of consumption so that it does not hamper his performance."
After the Mumbaikar extended his dream run in the T20 world Cup with a blistering half-century against Zimbabwe on Sunday, head coach Rahul Dravid also spoke about how Surya has taken care of his body.
"If I look at Surya from a couple of years ago, just to see how he takes care of his body and the amount of time he spends on his fitness, I think he's just really earning the reward for a lot of the hard work that he's put in on and off the field, and long may it continue," Dravid said.