CRICKET FOR BEGINNERS - NUTRITION
Eating properly will enhance your enjoyment of cricket, but fuelling your body is a complex science and you will need to take professional advice for your specific body type and exercise level. So the following should be taken purely as a general guide to nutrition for beginners:
If you’re looking to play cricket seriously, you’ll need to vary your diet to match your training schedule, and then optimise it for match days.
NUTRITION FOR CRICKET TRAINING
You’ll need a varied and balanced diet, including
Fruit and veg
in a variety of colours every day. These give you essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre – so they’re not only essential for good health and performance, but if you don’t get them it can lead to fatigue, muscle damage and impaired immune function. What’s more, with their high water content, they’ll also help you keep hydrated!
Carbs can be split into two sorts – starchy (or complex) ones, such as pasta, rice, potatoes or sweet potatoes and grainy breads, and simple sugars. Simple sugars are naturally found in milk products, fruit and vegetables. They’re also found in things like white sugar, brown sugar, honey, syrups cakes and sweets, but it’s best to limit those and get your sugars from the foods where they’re found naturally. Complex carbs break down slowly, helping you to feel fuller for longer, but also releasing their energy gradually to enable you to maintain your performance, rather than the quick blast you get from simple sugars.
Cereals - such as non-sugary breakfast cereals, oats (e.g. porridge)n are a good way to start the day, because they’ll give you fuel during long training sessions and also aid recovery.
Combined with carbs, these will help you maximise recovery and help build strength and endurance. Lean meat, poultry, fish, game, eggs, tofu, pulses (e.g Kidney beans, baked beans, lentils, chickpeas) are all good sources of protein, in modest amounts. Dairy such as low fat milk, cheese, yoghurt are also good, but should be eaten in small amounts.
There’s a lot of misunderstanding about fat in the diet. Overall, it’s important to monitor the amount of fat you eat as too much of it can make you put on weight. But it’s not all bad. Unsaturated fats, like those found in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, avocado and oily fish help your body absorb the essential nutrients you get from the rest of your diet, and to produce important hormones. They’re also a great source of energy in their own right, as well as supporting cell growth. However, you should avoid unhealthy fats like cakes, biscuits, many of the fats in takeaways and the skin on chicken – and of course, limit saturated fats found in meat and dairy products, as these aren’t considered healthy for the heart, and can raise your cholesterol levels (leading to health problems like high blood pressure).
MATCH PERFORMANCE NUTRITION
Cricket games are long and can involve periods of intense activity and longer periods standing in hot sun. The main thing is to stay hydrated.
In addition, since you don’t know before the game whether you’ll be batting and bowling, it’s best to eat and drink assuming that you’re going to be involved in intense action. Eat a largish meal including carbs and some protein 1-4 hours before the match
During the game
Take advantage of breaks in play to take on board something like a protein bar, yoghurt drink, fruit or light sandwiches (e.g. tuna, cheese or chicken on granary bread.
Low-fat smoothies are also very good if you’re in or near the pavilion.
After the game
Have a protein and carb-based snack as soon as possible after the game, followed by a larger, balanced meal within three hours.