Sathiyan: 'My mom's Sambar rice is probably the most delicious thing in the world'

Sathiyan looking at a stick of cotton candy with all the love in the world. G Sathiyan

'You are what you eat,' they say. So, what exactly is it that makes a champion? We bring you a closer look into the diet of table tennis player G Sathiyan.

What's one meal you're likely to eat over and over again during the week?

I really like variety in my food. My favorite meal is appam with coconut milk but I'd probably get bored if I eat it too often. My mom's Sambar rice is probably the most delicious thing in the world. I can have it, say, three times a week.

One dish you like cooking for yourself?

(Laughs) I'm really no good at cooking. The only thing I learnt to make for myself during my stay in Germany is an omelette. It's useful for when I'm alone and really hungry.

What's a typical meal for you on match days during tournaments?

The idea is to not feel stuffed and uneasy during a match, so I go in with a half-full stomach. I try to have bland and light food. If I'm playing in Europe, then it's almost always some pasta or spaghetti with white sauce. If I'm in India, then idli and sambar is the automatic choice. Sometimes I have a little bit of chicken too before matches.

Which is your favourite country to eat out in when you're travelling for tournaments?

Qatar, for its variety and closeness to Indian cuisine.

If you could introduce one Indian specialty dish to players from other countries, what would it be and why?

There are too many amazing Indian dishes. The North Indian ones might be a bit spicy for the foreign palate, so I'll go with my personal favorite, appam with coconut milk.

If you could reward yourself with a cheat meal after a win, what would it be?

Oh, that would be cheese burst pizza and a generous slice of chocolate cake.

What are the things you really love to eat but have been removed from your diet as part of a fitness regimen?

I absolutely love chocolates but it's been cut down drastically from my diet. My nutritionist was very clear that just because I'm thin, I can't get away with eating chocolates. They ran some tests on me and my sugar levels were on the slightly higher side. So chocolates have almost been banished. I've cut down on rice too. I've switched from white to brown rice and the portions are a lot smaller now.

What's the one new item that you've incorporated into your diet in recent times and why?

More kinds of vegetables have been included in my meal plan - beetroot and broccoli, for instance. Banana's role in my diet, especially on match days, has also increased. Earlier, I'd munch on chocolates for the energy rush but now it's been replaced by bananas.

What helps you recover fast after a game? What is your favorite pre/post workout snack?

Among natural foods, pomegranate is my go-to food for quick recovery. Apples as well. Fast&Up's BCAA and Glutamine supplements have been really helpful when it comes to muscle recovery after a game or an intense training session.

What sort of fast food is okay to eat as a professional athlete?

Haha, I don't think any kind of fast food is OK for us. Only on cheat days perhaps we can afford to indulge at times. The one thing that's readily available literally everywhere and I really like, is corn. It probably can't be categorized as fast food just because they sell it at theatres, beaches and all sorts of public places. I like it plain, just with some salt and without any masalas.