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May 2012
Cricket Diet
The Individual Bats
Kinita S Kadakia
When highly talented and well-trained cricketers compete against each other, the difference between the winner and the loser is often marginal. Nutrition is one of the important elements in an elite cricketer’s preparation.

Eating the right kinds of food and consuming the appropriate amounts of fluid are extremely important in today’s highly competitive environment. It will ensure that the player derives maximum benefit from a quality training programme and enable faster recovery. It will also help the player maintain ideal body weight and fat levels. However, nutrition programming for players is extremely individualised and there is no dietary thumb rule for an ace performance.

Individualised diet protocols exist not just between two different sports but also within the role of every player in a particular sport. For example, a batsman requires endurance with agility whereas a bowler requires power with sprints and pace. Hence, diets for a fast bowler, spinner, batsman and wicket keeper are all completely different. They could be a part of the same sport putting similar number of hours on field, but one would require more energy from carbohydrates while the other would need more power from proteins.

Factors At Play

Various environmental factors such as extensive travelling, challenging weather conditions and food choices available in a particular place affect a player’s diet regime. It, however, is more during the play season. Thus, for a player, the off-season becomes the focal point for intensive training and a strict diet complementing the workouts and activity. During the ‘competition phase’, it is important to increase the intake of carbohydrates to ensure sufficient fuel in your muscles for performance. However, during the ‘training phase’, it may be necessary to increase the protein intake to make up for wear and tear during rigorous workouts.

Balance In Combination
Combinations of carbohydrates and protein can help attain a balanced diet with the addition of some good fats. Review your protein intake with protein rich foods and include complex carbohydrates. Also, include dietary supplements of vitamins and minerals (specifically based on player requirement). It will provide better recovery and shall act as essential catalyst for energy production. And last but not the least, players need to hydrate well.

To sum it up, nutrition from the correct nutrients is very important for peak player performance. Imbibing a healthy choice from the beginning of a sporting career shall help the sportsperson excel and remain fit for a good, lasting and long career.

Hydration/ Fluids
  • Hyperhydrate before exercise.
  • Pre match - drink at least 500 ml.
  • Drink fluids at regular intervals during training and competition.
  • Use sports drinks to help replace electrolytes and energy.
  • Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol.
  • Post match - drink lots of water especially in hot/humid climate.
  • Don’t wait for thirst to set in.
Kinita S Kadakia is Sports Nutrition Consultant, National Cricket Academy & MEALpyramid, Mumbai.

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