Nutrition is an important part of any fitness regime. Cricket being a day long sport, the importance of nutrition is very high. The food that you eat gives you energy to play through the entire day. Hence, while eating the right kind of food can take your performance to a different level, eating the wrong kind of food can also slow you down.
The guiding principles for your food intake should be such:
Before a match: What will provide me enough energy
During a match: How to stay hydrated and get nutrition
After the match: How to gain the lost energy and repair muscular wear and tear.
We suggest you not to wait for the match day to eat well. Follow a few simple rules throughout the week so that you feel healthy on match day:
Eat at regular intervals – at least every 2 to 3 hours.
Include lean proteins in your meal. For non-vegetarians, suggested food are chicken, sea food, eggs etc. For vegetarians, we suggest soy, paneer, tofu etc.
Eat plenty of vegetables.
Avoid too much carbohydrates till the match day.
Avoid calorie rich drinks like colas and energy drinks. Eat fruits instead.
Before the match
High Carbohydrate food with Lean Protein
Stuffed Vegetable Omlette
Cricketers know whether they will be batting or bowling first only after the toss – about 20 mins before the start. A balanced meal which can be easily digested should be eaten 2 to 4 hours before the game. The meal should be low fat but and should contain complex carbohydrates along with lean protein and vegetables. Suggested food include sandwich with a lean protein or vegetable filling and a fruit, sweet potato with chicken or fish and vegetables, stuffed omelette and vegetables along with a slice of toast or a bowl of cereal or porridge with low fat milk and a fruit. Don’t go for heavier options with excess fat and oil since they make you lethargy.
Having breakfast on match day is crucial, even if you are in a rush. If you don’t have the time to catch up on a good breakfast, consuming a smoothie with fruits is a healthy option compared to having an energy drink or a chocolate bar.
During the match
Fluid Intake for Hydration
It is very important to stay hydrated and well energized during the game. Hence, cricketers should consume carbohydrate snacks and drinks to maintain blood glucose levels. Regular supply of drinks, sweets, fruits and small amounts of proteins are essential all through the meal. These snacks should contain small amounts of fat to provide energy to the players.
Hydration is important, especially during hot or windy conditions. Drink breaks are given every hour of the match. Players should keep sipping on sports drinks and water at regular intervals – 250 to 500 ml of fluid is suggested. Players should also weigh themselves before and after the game and any weight loss should be replenished with equivalent volumes of fluid. In fact, this is a good habit to follow during training sessions too and use carbohydrate or electrolyte rich drinks. Players should use personalised hydration strategies where a player can learn about sweat rate and know how to counter the same with proper fluid replenishment. Sweat sodium testing is also a useful way to know about fluid replenishment.
Match formats include breaks for lunch and tea. Players should consume carbohydrates and lean protein during these breaks to keep up the energy level. Suggested food include fresh or toasted sandwiches, rolls with lean meat and salad, tomato based carbohydrate dishes, fruit salad, fruits, smoothies, yoghurt etc.
Remember, bananas are an outstanding source of energy. Hence, consuming a banana during breaks is a good way to keep up the energy level.
Don’t opt for high sugar items like cakes or sweets during the tea or lunch break. Eat a bowl of curd or some fruits if you have a sweet tooth.
Eating after the match to replenish lost energy is extremely important, especially if you are playing a test match or a series of one day matches. Players who have taken a heavy workload during the match should eat a meal including lean chicken and salad wraps, low fat cheese and tomato sandwiches, complex carbohydrate with a meat sauce, yoghurt, milk drinks or smoothies, dried fruits, nut bar to meet the carbohydrate, protein and fluid goals to help the body recover quickly. Players can also consume sports drinks and drinks containing electrolytes to replenish the lost water due to heavy sweating.
Alcohol can interfere with the recovery of carbohydrate in the body and impact the recovery of soft tissue injury. Players who plan to have a few drinks after the match should make sure they are adequately hydrated with fluids and electrolytes as well as a recovery snack before consuming alcohol. However, before the match, alcohol consumption is a strict no as well as after an injury and during a multi-day match.
Adjust your food plan based on when you expect peak activity.
To summarize, since, before the toss, no one knows who’s batting first, it is important to eat a balanced diet. Start with a healthy meal as suggested in the before match section. Have a snack around 1 pm. Snacks can include a bar or something which contains good protein or good carbohydrates. Keep drinking a recovery or sports drink every two hours. Have a meal with lean protein and vegetables around 5 pm. This meal can contain small amounts of carbohydrates as well. Dinner should consist of a whole food meal with lean protein, vegetables and little amounts of carbohydrates.
Staying well-nourished and well-hydrated can help you take your game one notch higher. Eat knowledgeably.
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