People often ask me for simple guidelines for pre and post match nutrition plans. I have had mothers of sportsmen/sportswomen and even coaches asking me for ideal sports nutrition plans.  

What really is sports nutrition?   The definition of Sport Nutrition is the study and practice of nutrition and diet as it relates to athletic performance. It is concerned with the type and quantity of fluid and food taken by an athlete, and deals with nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, supplements and organic substances such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

The senior cricket season just started.   We have been kept on our toes with various parental advisory meetings, pre-season team meetings etc. One of the main focuses at these meetings is the ‘sport nutrition’ of players.

What then IS the ideal nutrition plan for players? And what is meant by a ‘sport nutrition plan’. Let’s look at some of the frequently asked questions and the sports scientific explanations to them .

  • What is the best snack during long games such as cricket, rugby or even football match break times?

During long games, always look at protein items in your meal plan.   That is better than high carbohydrates like bread, rice, noodles, chips, etc.

Let’s try Roasted Nuts, Peanuts, Avocado, Fresh Icey Milk 200ml Max, Kiwi fruits, Nelli Juice, King Coconut Drink 150ml, Green Bell Peppers, Salads , Almonds, Tomato or Carrot juice 200ml,Karapincha Crackers, Samaposha

  • What should we give kids after the match?

You can have a 50-55% CHO (Carbohydrate) meal after the match.   However, not straight away.    Atleast wait for an hour (1 hour) to indulge in a good meal.      All post-match meals should include 35-40 % Protein, Vitamins & Minerals, Green Color Code Vegis –  2 items, mix or fry with Olive oil & Soya oil.

  • Should we give players energy drinks?  If so what?

First of all it is important to know WHAT and energy drink is.   An energy drink is any of various types of beverage that are considered a source of energy, especially a soft drink containing a high percentage of sugar and/or caffeine or other stimulant.

Yes you must give players and sportsmen/sportswomen energy drinks.   It is very important.   However, make it at home.   Why waste a lot of money and consume chemicals?    WHY pay for chemicals?

In general all energy drinks must include:

1 teaspoon of  Iodized mixed table salt (heat it up 2 min till it melts), 2 teaspoons of Brown Sugar, I teaspoon of Lemon,1/2 teaspoon of Jeewani, 2 or 3 Ice Cubes, Water Melon, Strawberries, Green Orange , Up to 400ml water mix and drink.

You can drink this as a post recovery drink.

Lets now look at some food and liquids that need to be avoided when dealing with sports nutrition.

Green tea  – Green tea is made from the leaves from Camellia sinensis that have undergone minimal oxidation during processing.     Green tea originated in China, but it has become associated with many cultures throughout Asia.     Green tea has recently become relatively widespread in the Western World where black tea has been traditionally consumed.

Green tea has become the raw material for extracts used in various beverages, dietary supplements, and cosmetic items.     Many varieties of green tea have been created in the countries where it is grown. These varieties can differ substantially due to variable growing conditions, horticulture, production processing, and harvesting time.

Green tea generally slows down your metabolism and is a big no no for any sports person.

100% Carbohydrate meals – Carbohydrates are one of the main types of nutrients. They are the most important source of energy for your body. Your digestive system changes carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar). Your body uses this sugar for energy for your cells, tissues and organs.

Carbohydrates increase your weight and increases the glucose levels in the sportsman’s body.

Fizzy drinks – A fizzy drink or a soft drink (popularly known in Sri Lana) is a drink that typically contains carbonated water, a sweetener and a natural or artificial flavoring. The sweetener may besugar, high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice, sugar substitutes (in the case of diet drinks) or some combination of these. Soft drinks may also contain caffeine, colorings, preservatives and other ingredients.

Soft drinks are called “soft” in contrast to “hard drinks” (alcoholic beverages). Small amounts of alcohol may be present in a soft drink, but the alcohol content must be less than 0.5% of the total volume   if the drink is to be considered non-alcoholic. Fruit juice, tea and other such non-alcoholic beverages are technically soft drinks by this definition but are not generally referred to as such.

If you’re a player or sportsman trying to make weight, Fizzy drinks add unnecessary calories to your diet. Too much Fizzy drinks may also discourage you from drinking water, which is really the optimal drink for exercise. Both sweetened and diet Fizzy drinks lacks electrolytes, minerals you need to replace after a hard workout. Sports drinks may, on the surface, seem to have many of the same ingredients as Fizzy drinks. But they have a concentration of 6 to 8 percent carbohydrates — an amount that maximizes fluid absorption and carbohydrate digestion. Fizzy drinks and other carbonated energy beverages have a carbohydrate concentration of greater than 10 percent, which slows down gastric emptying and inhibits fluid absorption.

The foods and drinks that players choose to consume can affect how they perform in sport and help them to stay fit and healthy.   All players should choose foods wisely to help achieve their goals in sport. We must also remember the important social and cultural aspects of eating and the pleasure that we gain from food.    A healthy diet that is good for performance can also be a source of enjoyment.

Something that all coaches and parents must remember is that nutrition plays a vital role in a sportsman’s career.     You can be the most skilled player, but if your diet is not disciplined and scientific, you end up being the worst player.

I remember the words of Carl Evans when he said ‘The right sort of Nutrition and energy replacement can be the difference between winning and losing!’

So if you are planning to WIN, then it’s time to step back and look at your nutrition and energy replacement plan.    You don’t have forever…..