Every sport demands an optimal level of performance may it be cricket, football or any other form. Cricket is a game which requires immense strength as the player has to bowl and field constantly for hours. For a player, it is very important to showcase his/her real abilities at the time when they are on the field as there is a huge pressure on them to lead their team towards victory. At this crucial point of time there is a need for these players to fuel themselves well with adequate food and fluids so that they can achieve their objective.
Now let’s know about the nutritional needs of these players:
Energy – Adequate calorie intake is the most important component in order to ensure successful training and performance of players. It is important to consume optimum calories to support the energy that has been expended in training and to support the maintenance of strength, muscle mass, and overall health. The energy needs may differ for every player depending upon the weight, height, age, gender, metabolic rate and type of intensity and duration of training and performance.
For elite athletes such as national or international level players, daily calorie needs might reach 2500-3500 calories per day depending upon volume and intensity of training. The breakdown of macros should be done as:
Let’s understand the requirements in details:
- Carbohydrate – Carbohydrates are the main fuel for muscular work and the only fuel for the brain. All the athletes need a minimum of 5-7 g/kg/day of carbohydrates to fulfill general training needs and athletes training for endurance need approximately 7-10 g/kg/day.
High glycemic index foods such as fruit milkshakes, multigrain bread sandwiches, and fruits are useful for quick fuel recovery after training sessions or after strenuous exercises such as during or after the matches.
- Proteins – Proteins play a very important role in muscle building and tissue strengthening in your body. Due to the high-intensity sport that these players are involved in, the protein needs in the body are also higher. They should consume 1.5 – 2g/kg/day in order to maintain adequate protein balance.
The players should also keep in mind that consuming more protein than needed by the body will convert it into fat and will not contribute to an increase in muscle mass.
Extract protein from dietary sources such as milk and milk products, lean meat like chicken egg, fish, pulses and legumes and nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
- Fat– Although the most easily available fuel for the body is carbohydrate, fats also contribute as another important fuel. It is crucial for the maintenance of cellular membranes, skin, hormones and the transport of fat-soluble vitamins. A total intake of 20 – 25 % of the total calories is what is required for most athletes. However, long-term high-fat diets can have harmful health implications such as heart diseases and kidney diseases.
Extract good fat from dietary sources such as – nuts and oilseeds like almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and flax seeds, various oils such as mustard oil, soybean oil, and olive oil. Good fats are also present in avocado, salmon, eggs and dairy products.
- Vitamins and Minerals – Several vitamins and minerals such as folate, B vitamins, calcium, and zinc play an important role for better performance of the athletes. Less than one-third of daily needs of thiamine, riboflavin, pyridoxine, and vitamin C may lead to a decline in aerobic performance within weeks. Therefore, these must be inculcated in the diet of these players for fair energy production.
Extract thiamine from dietary sources such as – whole cereal grains such as oats, barley, and bajra, green peas, eggs, mushrooms, and watermelon.
Extract riboflavin from dietary sources such as – milk & milk products, eggs, and green leafy vegetables.
Extract vitamin C from dietary sources such as- citrus fruits like amla, lemon, berries, and green leafy vegetables.
Cricketers must consume a varied diet consisting of all vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and should monitor themselves for dietary deficiencies regularly.
- Fluids -Athletes loose fluids as sweat especially in hot and humid climates which can cause a decrease in performance level and pose a risk of heat stroke. Hence there is a need to maintain fluid balance with fluid intakes matching their fluid losses daily. Athletes should monitor their weight before and after training to be aware of fluid losses.
Hence awareness of fluid loss will help them to drink adequate fluids and prevent severe dehydration.
- Dietary supplements– Dietary supplements are often consumed by athletes for better performance and efficiency, improved speed, muscle gain, and weight maintenance. Players should be cautious about dietary supplements that they are consuming and must be aware if they cause any health complications. If at all you require supplements, it should be done under the recommendation of a qualified nutritionist.
Over to you:
The performance of the players is all that matters at the time of matches for which adequate energy and strength for the game is required. As a player, you should always go for something which is easy to digest, light and healthy such as fruits or smoothies before the onset of the match and after it, have something filling and a complete meal to attain the energy that has been utilized during the game.
A healthy and active body is always what a player desires for and a fit player will always have the enthusiasm and motivation to win the game.