A Guide to Optimal Nutritional Intakes for Cricketers
Meta Description: Nutrition intakes for cricket players differ from other sports. Here are some recommendations for varied physiological demands & durations of the game.
Cricket, a game of skill, is often underestimated as a beneficiary of proper nutrition strategies. With 2 teams of 11 players, each competes against each other with specialists like batsmen, bowlers, all-rounders, and a wicketkeeper. With a focus on varied strength, fitness, and flexibility needs, nutrition recommendations for each player vary with the demands of the session.
Physiological Demands Specific to the Sport
Over time, existing formats of cricket have been modified and new ones have been
introduced. This has increased the average of tournaments played per session with the number being increased to approximately 3 times by the end of the 20 th century.
Due to a mix of low-intensity exercise with high-intensity movements and sprints, cricket was not considered to be a physically demanding sport. However, several types of researches proved it wrong. While heartbeat rate for fast bowlers can touch the levels of 180-190 per minute, high-scoring batsmen run at an average of 24kmph, an approximate of 3.2km in 8 minutes.
With average energy expenditure reaching 600 calories per hour, cricketers especially batsmen and bowlers face significant physiological demands for optimal performance. This, in turn, requires an adequate amount of fuelling and hydrating before, during, and after the match. Though, varied roles of players from specialist positions to long inactive periods make it difficult to create a precise nutritional recommendation for every athlete. However, the general advice is discussed here.
Varied intensity across multiple numbers of sessions in a day creates a busy training
schedule for cricketers. Players should include nutrient-dense foods in their dietary intake, including fruits, vegetables, cereals, lean meat, and low-fat dairy products. Also, intake timings need to be well-timed to assist recovery between sessions with extra snacks included for days with heavy workloads.
Maintaining Body Fat Levels
Out of 11 players per team, most of the players are involved in low-intensity activities except for the batsmen and bowlers on the pitch. This is likely to cause an unwanted increase in body fat, and hence, weight. Cricketers should evaluate their training load and include extra aerobic activities wherever required to lose unnecessary fat. Food intake also requires a long-term change with a specific focus on alcohol & fat intakes.
Nutrition Recommendations for Match Days
Varying formats of game impact the intensity and time required in the game. To meet the precise nutritional requirements on match day, one should consider a pre-match meal, in-game top-ups, hydration, and post-match recovery snacks. Since none of the teams knows whether they will be bowling or batting first, a balanced meal that can be easily digested should be taken 2-4hours prior to the start time.
A low-fat meal comprising of tolerable complex carbohydrates and lean protein mixed with some vegetables is a recommended choice. Lean filled sandwich with fruit, vegetables and filled omelette with porridge or cereal or toast slice accompanied by a fruit and low-fat milk are some considerable options. Drinks and carbohydrate snacks should be taken during the game to maintain hydration and glucose levels.
Generally, drink breaks are scheduled every hour during the game. While combating
dehydration is necessary for the best possible performance, players should consume
enough fluid (250-500ml recommended) to compensate for sweat losses on hot days.
Recovery is a key concern for cricketers, especially during multi-day games. At the end of the game (or a day), active players should consume carbohydrate-rich snacks or meal along with fluids within an hour. Sandwiches, yoghurt, fruit, or cereal bars coupled with juice, sports drink, or water are some considerable options.
Though this is a general nutrition recommendation for cricketers, every player is advised to consult his trainer for the best diet chart. Also, training time can be used to experiment with different types of foods and fluids to find the ones that best suit a player’s body type and role.