Nutrition in cricket - cricket for india
COACHING

Nutrition in cricket

Cricket today has become more professional than ever before, thanks to the modern-day emphasis on commercialization. More matches are played now, which in turn demand higher levels of fitness and stamina.

Compare a cricketer of the sixties, like say Erapalli Prasanna, with a modern-day cricketer like Yuvraj Singh. The cricketers of today are required to be in peak physical condition and cannot afford a high proportion of body fat. Lean cricketers are quicksilver, more agile, possess greater stamina and therefore have better heat tolerance.

Fast bowlers in particular benefit from low levels of body fat, in the longer run.

The nutrition of cricketers should cover two major aspects:

A - To satisfy the energy requirements during training sessions and matches. Here, the emphasis is on the calorific density of meals and timing of the meals. Lack of adequate energy may lead to fatigue during an important match, which can lead to a costly lapse of concentration and thus, loss of the game.

B - To keep weight-gain under control. In the international arena, social commitments force the players to consume a lot of fattening food along with alcohol that has the potential to cut down a player's career.

The nutritional requirements of cricketers can be gauged in terms of the following:

1) ENERGY Vs THE AMOUNT REQUIRED

The energy required by each player depends upon his age, body-weight, level of activity etc. (Factors that influence the BMR-BASAL METABOLIC RATE of the individual.)

2) CARBOHYDRATES

Carbs are the stock suppliers of energy to the body. Glycogen, which is the storage form of CHO in the body, is used up during the training and the matches.

3) PROTEINS

Proteins are the building blocks of the body and therefore need to be provided not only quantitatively, but also qualitatively. However, the general belief that cricketers require protein supplements is a myth because a traditional Indian diet provides enough proteins.





4) FATS

Fats take relatively longer time to digest and therefore remain in the body for a longer time. This causes lethargy and sluggishness. Imagine this afflicting the player in an important session of play after he has consumed an excess of fats. Fats reduce the agility and mobility of the player and also increase the risk of injuries. Hence, it is very important to keep one's fat-intake under control, as it is not only a concentrated source of energy (yields 9 kcals / gm.), but also a trigger for weight-gain. Fats, both visible as well as invisible should be restricted. Invisible fats include those naturally present in foods like nuts and non-vegetarian dishes that may escape the notice of the players. Therefore, players should consume more of white meat and other de-fatted non-vegetarian products, skimmed dairy products etc.

5) FLUID

Fluid balance is very important for any sportsperson and it holds true for cricketers as well. Dehydration during a match, especially in hot and humid conditions is very common and therefore 'rehydration therapy' is of paramount importance. A fluid intake of 250-500 ml/hr is recommended.

6) ALCOHOL

Alcohol is a source of empty calories, besides being a diuretic. Therefore, it should be consumed wisely. A drink or two here and there may be acceptable, but restrictions are important, especially on the eve of an important tournament or a match.

7) SUPPLEMENTS

Although many players consider the use of vitamin and mineral supplements, especially to maintain the fluid-electrolyte balance, they are not necessary if a balanced diet is followed.

8) FIBRE

Fibre is a very important part of an individual's diet. It is required for normal G.I.TRACT functioning (to prevent constipation, diarrhea, etc.). It also reduces fat absorption and excretes cholesterol.

Although cricketers come in all kinds of physical structures and have different training requirements, they all benefit from being slim and fit.

Nutrition forms an important core of a cricketer's training regime. The calorific content and scheduling of meals can influence the performance of the players. It can become their strength, and their weakness.