Sports Series: Cricket Performance- Fueling for Success
Despite what many people may believe, there are numerous nutrition factors to consider when looking to obtain your peak cricket performance. In our sports series on cricket performance we will discuss the top two nutrition factors that we know are limiting you from realising your optimal performance.
Excessive heat and humidity go hand in hand with cricket in Australia. Regardless of your position (batsman, bowler, wicketkeeper, fielder) you will at some stage be standing in the middle of a field devoid of any shade wearing a good proportion of protective equipment or performing static or dynamic explosive multi-directional movements.To compound this issue, drinks breaks are infrequent, which provides a significant concern for maintaining hydration levels.
As little as 2% loss of body-weight due to sweat (e.g. for a 70kg athlete this would equate to 1.4kg weight lost as sweat) impairs performance, both cognitive and physical work capacity. Ensuring adequate hydration prior to a game is paramount to reduce your risk of this occurrence, and in the case of extreme conditions the use of sports drinks can assist in retaining replace fluids (via the sodium content). Depending on your requirements, the additional carbohydrate content within sports drinks may assist in restoring glycogen levels with additional electrolytes beneficial to replace potential heavy losses via sweat.
So how much fluid do you need? This is very individual to your sweat rate which we can determine for you via hydration testing, however if you multiply your current body-weight by 30ml you can estimate your daily base hydration requirements (e.g. for a 70kg athlete this would equate to a base hydration requirement 2.1 litres per day). Sweat losses could see your this example athlete’s fluid requirements to maintain hydration levels greater than 6 litres on game day!
It is important to note regarding sports drinks the detrimental effects on dental health, extending to the frequent misuse of sports drinks within cricket that can contribute to excessive caloric intake and therefore result in unwanted weight gain. Furthermore, alcohol is rarely promoted for those seeking peak performance given its effects to dehydrate and impair recovery from training and competition.
2. Inadequate Carbohydrate Intake
Cricket is yet another sport where low carbohydrate diets and optimal sports performance are not well matched. Carbohydrates (which represents sugars and starches) largely seen in (breads, cereals rice, pasta, potatoes, fruits, and some dairy foods to name a few) are stored within the “fuel tanks” of your muscles and liver. Stored carbohydrate content is known as glycogen which in essence is large, highly branched structures of individual glucose molecules.We “tap into” these stores to replenish the glucose within our bloodstream following activity and therefore these glycogen stores have a pivotal role in replenishing our most efficient burning fuel source.
Our body runs predominantly on glucose for activities of greater than 70% of our maximum effort. It is important to note that cricket is a sport of repetitive explosive movements regardless of your position, therefore your ability to exert repeated maximal effort is dependent on adequate carbohydrate availability. If you do not have adequate carbohydrates, your body will shift to metabolising fats and proteins as a predominant fuel source (akin to putting diesel fuel into an formula one race car) as both of these fuels do not burn efficiently.
At present the recommendation for the population for carbohydrate intake is between 45-65% of total calories consumed. We recommend athletes to use the upper end of this range to meet their fuel requirements for cricket ( e.g. for a 70kg athlete with a daily caloric requirement of 2500 calories per day and 65% of total calories from carbohydrates they would require around 400 grams of carbohydrate per day).
Of course, your requirements are very dependent on your training and competitive loads, including your current body composition requirements (you may be looking to increase or decrease your current body weight).
At the Enliven Nutrition Performance Division our sports dietitians can assist you to develop an appropriate hydration and nutrition plan to ensure you are performing at your peak in training or competition. Our extensive experience and unmatched service will ensure you can become better than yesterday.