The cricket fever is on the rise and the superlative performance from the Indian team in the last couple of matches has just made it more interesting. Cricketers push themselves hard and adhere to a strict regimen to remain fit throughout the lengthy tournament like the ICC World Cup.
In fact the teams reach early for the tournament in order to acclimatize themselves with the weather and playing conditions. But what about their food? Can their body acclimatize to local cuisine?
The body might not react well to the sudden change in the dietary habits of the player which can hamper their performance. Hence they need to carefully craft their palate.
That’s where the role of a sports nutritionist is so important. I even ask my superstar athletes to carry certain foods with them when they travel for their nutrition convenience. I am sure a lot of them in the current team will be carrying foods with them.
How do players eat during World Cup?
What a player will eat will depend on 3 things:
1) What foods are available?
2) What foods are they carrying?
3) Where they are on match cycle? (training, matchday, rest day and recovery)
Meals designed for cricketers should provide carbohydrate to keep blood glucose levels topped up, provide a variety of other nutrients such as protein, vitamins, and minerals, and be low in fat and easy to digest.
Breakfast is really important to ensure that players are sufficiently fuelled for a match day or heavy training day. A typical breakfast includes Chapati, Poha, Idli, Paratha, whole-wheat bread, eggs, baked beans and muesli or granola which is complex cereals, to give the body an energy bank.
Lunch consists of a variety of options from vegetables, pulses, and potato wedges for people who are vegetarian to chicken and fish for those who like to eat meat. Brown rice, pasta and different forms of bread are also available. Some of my clients are Gluten Intolerant and bread are a big no no for them. The troubled gut is the last thing you want when you are on the field.
Also, batsmen don’t like to eat much before they enter the field and in cricket, it is very difficult to determine when the athlete’s turn would be. If a player doesn’t eat for long, whatever may be the reasons, he/she might feel weak on the field. Munching on snacks such as fruit, cereal bars, yogurt, and sandwiches while waiting to bat will be a good option.
The high-intensity match/training results in the breakdown of tissues which needs to be repaired. A postgame meal will consist of protein-rich food such as Rajma, Chicken, fish, leafy vegetables along with soup and salad.
Players should also try to consume more carbs in the form of fruits, yogurt, cereal bars, and milkshakes within 45 minutes of completion of the match.
Cricketers spend long hours on the field and lose a lot of water. They should frequently
rehydrate with fruit (high water content) and electrolyte-rich drinks to replace the sweat losses.
Players should avoid sugar-based drinks as they can cause inflammation and affect
Pineapple, Pomegranate, Sweet potatoes and Rasgullas (without sugar syrup) are excellent recovery foods which cricketers love to eat.
At QUA Nutrition we do customized competition guidelines for traveling athletes which help them identify the foods that would be available in any particular country, which they can eat to get the required nutrients. We also suggest them to carry certain foods with them which they might find it hard to find in any particular country.