Importance of Off season diet in Athletes : By Nutritionist Sayali Naik

There’s a lot of negativity and false information everywhere in terms of foods and supplements to keep the health and immunity up. Especially in athletes who have to keep their stamina, immunity, strength, up, throughout the year.

The lack of physical training has made life in quarantine a little more than challenging for athletes. It is very essential to keep their eating habits appropriate and not fall prey to unhealthy eating patterns in off season, which can affect their performance negatively later.

Many athletes are in confusion about the way to maintain their health realizing their diet periodization, workout & practice schedules, games have gone for a toss. But, taking this time-off seriously would be wise for getting ready for the next season, by training & eating right for:

a) Maintaining and keeping the basic immunity up,
b) Maintaining their healthy muscle weight and prevent fat gain, that will help in recovery,
gain back strength and reduce the injury risk or help in rehab.
c) Adopting good eating habits, indoor workout habits and work on overall well-being.

Now, with the decrease of training volume also comes a decrease in caloric intake. The coronavirus quarantine, emotional and stress eating is very common for all. But I believe this is a test for all of us for self controlling in terms of binge unhealthy eating. This practice however will result in fast fat-weight gain as you over-consume unwanted calories. Athlete’s require an off-season nutrition plans with right choices of food as per the goals by keeping moderate carbohydrate & fat intake, high in protein, fibre, antioxidant & water intake for maintaining immunity and body composition. If body weight is a concern, try to maintain good weight range
or to get into better shape, maintain your muscle mass or increase your muscle mass (who are aiming to gain weight), for the next season.

This is a good time to effectively increase lean body mass and hence strength and stamina, by keeping the workout and diet in sync with each other which is essential for repairing physically and mentally. As we progress from off season into pre-season, it’s important to match what you
eat during training, practices & match days.

Top two areas to work on when going into off season: 

1. Recovery needs – this includes recovering from the training session.
2. A decrease in energy expenditure – this is particularly important right now as many athletes do not have access to training facilities or maybe in quarantine.

The Basic rules apply,


-Keep a fixed nutrient-rich quarantine diet plan, by including all food group rich in proteins, antioxidants, moderate carbs & low fat. Keep hydrating enough.
-Keep fixed workout rituals and sleep patterns.
-Set daily goals in terms of your work, training, shadow practicing to avoid mental stress and emotional eating.
-Maintain a good basic hygiene and have home cooked food to avoid any type of infections.
-Try taking up mind relaxing and self-care activities like reading, yoga, meditation, etc.


– Do not binge or avoid sugary, oily, junk foods, packaged foods during your quarantine which will lead to fat gain.
– Avoid smoking, alcohol which might increase your body fat, lower your immunity, recovery
and breathing patterns.
-Avoid emotional eating and late night sleeping patterns

Quick tips for recovery and performance in off season:

-If your training is increasing, start adding in carbs sources at times leading up to and post- training. 
-If your training is decreasing in volume and/or intensity, follow the recommendations for reducing overall energy intake while keeping protein sources constant. 

-Pre training, consume a quick carbohydrate rich food for good energy flow.-If your training is less than 45 minutes, just drink water during the event.

If it involves more than 45 minutes, consider electrolytes drinks.

– Post training, drink enough water.Next, take a quick protein and carbs source intake to get to your muscle as quickly as possible to help in repairing muscles.

-Consider consulting a Sports Nutritionist for some goal oriented diet plans suggesting foods and safe supplements suggestion (brands and dosages) required for recovery and immunity.

I believe there’s not one diet plan that suits all. The calorie requirements changes from person to person in terms of their body goals, nutrient deficiencies, training schedules, intensities, food allergies, availability, eating patterns, etc and so the diet plan should be made customized as per
the athlete’s goals. So consider consulting a certified Sports Nutritionist who can help you guide better.

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