Cricketers come in all shapes and sizes. Compare David Boone and Glen McGrath. Modern cricketers are required to be fitter than ever before and very high levels of body fat are no longer tolerated. Lean cricketers are quicker, more agile, have greater stamina and better heat tolerance. Fast bowlers, in particular, benefit from low levels of body fat.
Common Nutrition Issues:
Elite cricketers can have a busy training schedule with multiple sessions throughout the day. The intensity of sessions can range from low to very high. Cricketers need to base their intake on nutrient-dense foods such as cereals, fruit, vegetables, low fat dairy products and lean meat or vegetarian alternatives. Food intake needs to be well-timed to help with recovery between sessions. Intake may need to be adjusted to match the activity level of each day with extra snacks being included on heavier days.
Body Fat Levels
Unless regular conditioning sessions are included in training, cricket can involve long hours of low intensity activity. Players can often find themselves gaining unwanted weight, particularly when enjoying the social side of cricket. Cricketers wanting to lose body fat need to assess their training load. It may be necessary to undertake some aerobic activity in addition to scheduled training sessions. Long-term changes need to be made to food intake. Key areas to target are fat intake and alcohol intake.
Match Day Nutrition
Cricketers need to stay fueled and hydrated throughout a game. Ideally, a meal which is based on carbohydrate and includes some protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals and small amounts of fat should be consumed before a cricket match. Good choices include cereal, yoghurt, sandwiches, pasta and fruit. The timing of the meal can be difficult, especially when the team bats first, and players have no idea when they will be required to participate. Ideally, players should eat 2-4 hours before the game begins and include snacks such as fruit, cereal bars, yoghurt and sandwiches every 1-3 hours while waiting to bat.
Matches usually include breaks for lunch and tea. Depending on the level of competition, meals may be formally catered, provided by the social club, assembled by asking players to ‘bring a plate’ or consist of individual packed lunches. The nutritional quality of meals at the elite level is improving but high fat, lower carbohydrate foods such as casseroles, cold cuts, fried foods and cream cakes can still feature. Ideally, meals consumed during a cricket match should provide carbohydrate to keep blood glucose levels topped up, provide a variety of other nutrients such as protein, vitamins and minerals, be low in fat and easy to digest. Good examples include, sandwiches and rolls with lean meat, low fat cheese and salad, home made pizza, pasta dishes, fruit salad, low fat muffins, yoghurt and fruit.
Drink breaks are generally scheduled every hour. Combating dehydration is an important issue, and cricketers should drink at least 250-500 ml of fluid at each drink break to replace sweat losses on hot days. For active players such as batsmen, bowlers and the wicket-keeper, the provision of carbohydrate in these drinks may of additional benefit.
In multi-day games, recovery is a primary concern. At the end of the day, players need to replace fluid and carbohydrate. For active players, a carbohydrate-based meal or snack such as sandwiches, fruit, yoghurt, milk drinks or cereal bars should be consumed in conjunction with fluids such as water, juice, cordial or sports drink within an hour of the end of the match.
Author: Craig Philipson