Nutrition Recommendations For Cricket
The nutrition necessary for cricket players is different to that of many other sports because of the longer duration and mix of physiological demands
Cricket is a bat-and-ball sport, mainly played during summer months in the northern hemisphere, but played competitively almost all-year round at international level. A cricket team is made up of 11 players, with most players having a specialised role or ability that will determine the physiological challenge of match-play, e.g. bowlers, batsmen, all-rounders and a wicket keeper. Cricket is a game that requires a huge amount of technical skill, mental aptitude and the ability to concentrate for long periods. Over the past few years there have been significant changes in the structure of cricket to attract a larger global audience. The main competitions in elite cricket are currently in the following format:
- Twenty20 cricket – 20 overs per side
- 1 day matches – 50 overs per side
- 4 day First–class matches
- 5 day Test matches
Sport–specific physiological demands
Along with the development of new formats of cricket, the number of tournaments has dramatically increased. Between 1970 and 1999 the number of days played per season increased by 280%. Although match-play usually consists of low intensity exercise interspersed with high intensity sprints and movements, historically, due to the long breaks in play, cricket has not been considered a physically demanding sport. However, research has shown that heart rates of fast bowlers can reach between 180 and 190 beats per minute during their short periods of bowling. On the other hand, a batsman who bats for 100 runs will have sprinted approximately 3.2 km in 8 minutes of total work with an average running speed of 24 ph, resulting in energy expenditure in the region of 600 calories per hour. Clearly, there are significant physiological demands placed on the bowlers and batsman alike so in order to perform optimally, fuelling and hydrating the body before, during and after each match is critical to performance. However, the different specialist positions, long periods of inactivity for many players in the batting side, and variety of match formats make it difficult to provide precise nutritional advice in match-play for cricketers.
Training, on the other hand, involves a range of strategies to ensure the athlete is conditioned for all facets of the game, so the typical training goals for most sports are present here, i.e. improving strength, aerobic fitness, speed, agility, couple with the specialised match-play skills such as batting, fielding and bowling are the main focus. The nutritional requirements of the athlete are thus modified to suit the specific performance goal.
The nutritional requirements of cricket are different to that of many other sports because of the longer duration and mix of physiological demands. A balanced diet that provides adequate amounts of energy, macro- and micronutrients is the first consideration for the cricket player. To perform optimally, cricket players require a balance between sufficient amounts of carbohydrate for energy during intense exercise, protein for repair and adaptation to training, and essential oils for optimum metabolism and hormone production.
During matches, the demand for energy will depend on how intense the game is, the environment (and in particular, tropical climates), and what role the player has, i.e. are they a batsman or a bowler? Bowlers tend to have a higher requirement for energy compared to batsmen. For this reason, cricket players have to consider their individual requirement for nutrients and hydration as they may be higher or lower than their teammates depending on field position. The best way to establish the appropriate amount of energy and fluids required for best performance during match-play is to experiment in training.
CHO intake – choosing low glycemic index (GI) goods
Although the energy requirements of cricket are substantial the need for carbohydrate is not as significant as other sports such as marathon running or road cycling. The majority of carbohydrate foods in a cricket player's diet should be consumed from low GI sources. There may be the perception that jellies, sports gels and other types of high GI carbohydrate foods should be consumed regularly in the lead-up to the match, but this practice is not necessary. The athlete can easily consume their requirement of carbohydrate from low GI sources like whole grains, fruits and vegetables. For more information on glycemic index in sport, see here.
The main nutrition goal for optimum performance is to have adequate energy stored as glycogen and begin the match well-hydrated. Ideally cricket players should start the match on a relatively empty stomach, which means eating the last meal 2-4 hours before the match begins. The problem in some cases is that each team don't know who is batting or fielding first. Nonetheless, it is best practice to prepare as if your team is to field first as this has the greatest physical demands for each member of the team in general.
During the match-play, it is important to maintain energy (fuel) and hydration levels. This can be achieved by using a sports drink like CHO CHARGE if match intensity is high e.g. for a bowler. If the match intensity is low, e.g. a boundary fielder, and hydration is the main goal, a slower, sustained source of carbohydrate in conjunction with electrolytes is recommended. In this case, RecoverAce Endurance is suggested as this contains low GI carbohydrate in the form of isomaltulose (Palatinose), providing a sustained release of energy to the body over a prolonged period. This will help to avoid any fluctuations in blood glucose and avoid the risk of fatigue.
Hydration is critical for performance in most sports and it has been repeatedly shown that dehydration of even a small percentage of body mass impedes physiological function and performance. Cricket is normally played in warm climates for a minimum of a few hours to a number of days, so dehydration can be acute or accumulate over the course of a long match. Sweat rates of cricket players will vary considerable depending on field position and environmental conditions, but are on average 1.0 ltr to 1.5 ltr per hour. A fluid source that contains a suitable amount of carbohydrate and adequate levels of electrolytes like CHO CHARGE is better than water alone for hydrating athletes and providing energy during training and matches.
After a match or training, it is essential to replace depleted muscle carbohydrate (glycogen) stores with suitable carbohydrate, and rehydrate with a drink containing electrolytes. A quality protein source that provides amino acids that are essential for repair and recovery of active muscle is advised. These factors will help the body recover, and be ready as soon as possible for the next match, day's play, or training session. A carbohydrate-protein supplement from our RECOVER ACE range (Endurance or Strength) is ideal in this scenario. To optimise recovery it should be taken within 30 minutes of the match ending.
For more nutrition, training and sports articles, please visit our Nutrition Centre.
|NUTRITION STRATEGIES IN TRAINING AND RECOVERY|
|Recovery product||Restore fuel stores and support optimum muscle recovery||RecoverAce Endurance
|Quality protein intake||Essential for maintenance of optimum body composition||Blue Label Whey
Target Whey Protein
|Amino acid supplementation||Facilitate training adaptations Aid growth and repair||ISO BCAA Max 1500 mg|
|NUTRITION STRATEGIES FOR COMPETITION|
|CHO loading||Maximise muscle glycogen stores that are critical for performance||RecoverAce Endurance|
|Fuelling during competition||Ensuring adequate hydration levels will reduce the negative effects on mental and physical function||CHO CHARGE Decaffeinated|
|GENERAL NUTRITION STRATEGIES|
|Multivitamins and minerals||Ensure adequate intake of essential micro nutrients||Accovit Performance|
|Essential oils||Meet the daily requirement for EPA & DHA||Acti Omega
Acti Krill 500 mg
|Joint care||Helps to maintain optimum joint and bone health||OmniJoint Original
OmniJoint Omega 3