Original Link : Anna Nagar Live (Link no longer available)

Ms.Shiny Chandran, an accredited Sports Dietitian – with a career spanning more than 15 years, has helped high profile athletes and several individuals combat obesity, manage diabetes, insulin resistance and high cholesterol.

She is by far the most sought after performance nutritionist in Chennai. An accredited sports dietitian from Sports Dietitian Australia, and is the first Indian to hold the Diploma in Sports Nutrition from the International Olympic Committee Her area of expertise is preventive and sports nutrition.

She regularly delivers lectures for corporates, students, and athletic groups and spreads awareness through her articles in several regional magazines.

We are glad to feature her in ANL with this informative interview.

Interview with Ms.Shiny Chandran:

What inspired you to get into such an offbeat, unconventional and interesting profession? Tell us how your interest in the field began and how your career unfolded.

One of the guest speakers in first year of my Post Graduation in Food Service Management and Dietetics in Women’s Christian College was Dr.Kannan Pugazhendi, who gave a brilliant lecture for 1 hour on sports nutrition – a lot went over my head, I couldn’t comprehend the concepts and realized I should delve more into this field. He helped with my dissertation in the 2nd year of post-graduation study, which further triggered by interest in this area of specialization. I worked inside YMCA College of Physical Education in Dr.Kannan’s clinic – FFAMY for 3 years and then moved onto as Training in-Charge for Fitness Studios across Chennai, Bangalore in 2006. Later in 2007 worked in Maverick Fitness Studio as Chief Dietitian and then Primal Patterns Holistic Fitness Studio from 2009 till 2013.

A small stint in Indian Cricket League, a one year assignment with Chemplast cricket team, consultant with Rupa Tennis Academy, corporate consultant in NICHE- Bangalore gave me a wide exposure in this field. I specialized in sports nutrition from Sportsoracle – the IOC Certification, Accredited Sports Dietitian from Sports Dietitians Australia between the period from 2006 to 2008. Working closely with fitness professionals, sports physicians and sports physiotherapists has helped me become a better professional.

We understand that you are the first Indian to hold the Diploma in Sports Nutrition from the International Olympic Committee. Please tell us about this.

The quest to specialize in sport nutrition started in 2003. I chanced upon this website sportsoracle.com which had just started their 2 year distance education program in 2006 with faculty members from across the globe who were leading sports nutritionists/scientists in their respective countries. It was an impressive line up and I took it up in 2007. I belonged to their 2nd batch but realized I was the first Indian to have completed this certification and was truly overjoyed.

What exactly do you do in the field of nutrition and dietetics? What are your daily responsibilities?

I teach in the Department of Arthroscopy and Sports Medicine in Sri Ramachandra University, Porur (since 2009 onwards) – handling classes for Under Graduation students in Sports and Exercise Science, MD in Sports Medicine besides assessing professional athletes who visit the sports centre for comprehensive assessment. (SRU houses one of the best sports medicine centres in Asia conforming to international standards).

My private practice is in Hande Medical Centre, Nungambakkam where one to one consultations are given to novice athletes, weekend warriors or serious professional athletes. I have conducted lectures for parents of child athletes, group of budding tennis, badminton and cricket players, besides writing on various aspects of sports and general nutrition in regional magazines, leading newspapers etc.

People are generally confused with these terms. Is there a difference between a dietitian and nutritionist?

Dietitians are usually seen in clinical set ups – hospitals, clinics and nutritionists work in wellness centres, holistic centres, fitness studios, schools, community and mostly non – clinical set ups.

What do people look for in a nutritionist or a dietitian?

Several reasons

to fix digestive issues (food intolerance, IBS, constipation, leaky gut syndrome etc.)
to check if one is eating right according to their physiological demands/ physical activity / balancing calorie intake vs expenditure
to fuel performance
to build lean muscle mass
to support pregnancy and lactation
to prevent non communicable diseases like diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease etc
to recover from illness
to gain knowledge about supplements which might enhance sports performance/reach fitness goals
All through the various stages of life cycle, eating right can benefit immensely to optimize growth, development, enhance immunity, rejuvenate and restore good health.

You have chosen to be a sports dietitian. What is the work of a sports dietitian like?

Athletes are always striving to enhance their performance and nutrition plays a big role in

balancing calories
prevent dehydration which affects performance
aid recovery after a ground training/fitness session
maintain weight
optimise their fitness goals/get most out of their gym or ground sessions
Sports dietitians

Assess athletes and chalk out diet plan for teams/ individuals
Provide information on supplements
Educate about hydration guidelines
Provide nutrition awareness to coach, fitness trainer, parents of athletes through lectures/ educational material/articles
Plan menus for sports hostels
Do body composition analysis (skin fold caliper assessment)
How important is the role of a sports dietitian in shaping up a sports person’s career?

Good sleep, hydration, eating right provide a strong foundation for an athlete. Gaining nutrition knowledge for an athlete from beginner to elite level of sports will help sustain energy levels required for the sport. Wrong food choices have proven costly for some athletes.

Turning up tired for practice sessions , not being able to do workouts given by strength and conditioning coach , being prone to injuries etc can reflect badly for an athlete. The right choice of foods help a great deal.

What are some of the most challenging aspects of your job?

Getting the athlete for subsequent follow up sessions are challenging . Besides, the supplement industry markets products and some of them rely more on supplements than eating” real food”. Information from unreliable sources, wrong concepts about nutrition from fellow athletes/ other professionals like coach or trainers can cloud the food choices for an athlete. These are the primary challenges that most sport dietitians face.

What’s your advice with regard to how to start and build a successful career in nutrition and dietetics?

Besides getting certifications, working with teams closely is important to understand their challenges. Seeing athletes work in gym, ground, nets gives the real picture and its more educative than sitting in the clinic and offering advice. To be part of their daily life helps in building rapport as well. Connecting with the coach, fitness trainer, sports physician of the team helps in clear communication and better results. Team work is of utmost importance.