Managing Glycogen Loading to Increase your Game Efficiency

I am a 24-year-old Cricketer. I recently read that it is not advisable to choose nuts and chocolates as a in between event snack. They advised dried fruit, banana or jelly. Since both give energy what is the difference? Could you please explain?

Today we have research which shows that besides your God given ability and talent to play a game and your training by professional coaches, what goes into your body as food plays an important role. The food you eat on a long term basis as well as exactly what you eat 3 days before your event and throughout and after the event have a tremendous influence on your performance. It is very important for a cricketer to concentrate on a high carbohydrate diet from 3 days before a match. 60-70% of the food should be carbohydrate food. (fruits, sugars, vegetables and cereals-rice, wheat, etc.,) This gets converted to glycogen and is stored in the muscles. During a cricket match one has to be able to endure long hours as well as have muscle glycogen, which is where energy is taken from for the spurts of high intensity activity that occurs when you bowl, bat, take a run or run for the ball.

For this we recommend that you make a conscious effort to cut down on all fatty food from 3 days prior to the event, during event and after event. Replace those calories with large quantities of carbohydrate foods. Use skimmed or low fat milk, do not apply butter on bread or ghee on roti, avoid coconut chutney and any fried items like vada, masala dosa, etc., in breakfast. Ideally your breakfast should be a glass of skimmed milk with bread and jam, or idli and sambar. or oats porridge or cereal and milk. A boiled egg may be eaten but sausages, bacon, etc., must be avoided. Top up the breakfast with fruits or fruit juice.

Carry with you dilute juice with glucose or sports drink but avoid any concentrated drinks and aerated drinks during event. Between events frequently snack on fruits - banana, dates, raisins, etc. Bread with jam, crackers or sweet biscuits may also be eaten. Chocolates and nuts are a definite no as they are high fat and will feel heavy in the stomach without doing the needful. Lunch too should be high carbohydrates, moderate protein meal but low in fat. Curd rice, dry roti with dhal, vegetables with cheese/chicken sandwiches, macaroni and tomato sauce with a little cheese added are some suggestions. Try to increase your rice or roti intake with dhal and little non-veg.

Many eat less during the event saying they don't want to feel heavy. Please note, if you fill up on carbs you will not feel heavy as they get digested fast. Only if your eat fat then fat takes 6-8 hours to get digested and it feels heavy in the stomach. After the event too do not neglect your eating. For a cricketer every day is important every event is important and you should take care to replenish your muscle glycogen stores which would have got emptied by the end of your game.

It is recommend that you give 100 gms of carbohydrate with 5-10 gms protein within half an hour after event. This can be got from a milk shake or lassi plus 4 slices bread and jam or 5-6 idli with sambar and some fruits. Later that night's dinner too must be a high carbohydrate meal with lots of rotis or rice but definitely low on fat. Fruit and milk at bed time too is a good way to load carbohydrates. Rich biriyani, poori, paratha and Chinese food are best avoided after a match as they are too high in fat.

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