IPL 2023: How can players thrive in the heat with smart dietary habits

This summer could be the hottest on record. To those who will play the IPL – don’t wilt in the heat. Instead, adopt smart dietary habits to help you perform at your best and recover well.

Published : Mar 30, 2023 09:50 IST - 6 MINS READ

Scorching heat: Hardik Pandya takes a drinks break during an IPL contest in April 2022. The weather will be inhospitable for cricket during the coming seven weeks.
Scorching heat: Hardik Pandya takes a drinks break during an IPL contest in April 2022. The weather will be inhospitable for cricket during the coming seven weeks. | Photo Credit: Sportzpics for IPL

Scorching heat: Hardik Pandya takes a drinks break during an IPL contest in April 2022. The weather will be inhospitable for cricket during the coming seven weeks. | Photo Credit: Sportzpics for IPL

The IPL is upon us again this summer, which as per weather experts may be the hottest on record.

The 250 players and the support staff of over a 1,000 people will find it extremely difficult not to wilt in the heat amid the frenzied atmosphere. If the competition doesn’t faze them, the weather just might even as we watch all the action from the comfort of our air-conditioned living rooms.

I am writing to every IPL player who needs a cheat-sheet for those seven weeks. Virat Kohli already got one from me over two IPLs ago, and Shikhar Dhawan and Robin Uthappa would call up after every game asking how they can recover before the next one.

So, here is a sports nutrition hack from my desk:

· Let us make amla and lemon juice with five grams of glutamine our best friend every morning – all with 300ml of water. Hot or cold – you decide.

· Breakfast will most likely be at 11am or 12 noon as everyone sleeps in. Make sure you consume 30 grams of protein and 100 grams of carbohydrates at breakfast. Don’t worry about fats – you had the whole year to get in shape. Do not try to build show muscles during the IPL. Put your head down, sleep well, eat well, and breathe well.

Instead, you must aim for go muscles. If you eat right, you will have the energy to play in merciless heat, and you will have the strength to recover.

Your breakfast should be what you love to eat at home. Stick to the basics. Make sure you consume 20 grams of protein with a smoothie of berries – blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and goji berries, if the star hotels stock them.

Use curd – either dairy or peanut curd.

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If you are a player, I hope you have done your food intolerance test to determine which foods make your body sing and which foods run riot inside of you. In case your big money hasn’t yet got you focused on your diet, ask your team support to holler out to me, and I will get it done for you. Knowing which foods to eat every day of your life helps you get on top of your game. The one player who took sports diet seriously in the past was Uthappa, and it helped him - he won the orange cap when on a strict diet regime.

· All players will visit strategy rooms for discussions that sometimes last for hours. For mind power in meetings, we want orange or lemon smells in the room. We want salted nimbu paani for hydration from the previous day’s energy-sapping match, and a handful of blueberries (organic dry and sweetened) to boost memory power. As supplement, I would consume Ashwagandha and Brahmi. Continue to have a smoothie before lunch if you have the space.

If you do not have an early game, lunch can be at 3pm. Eat well. Carbohydrates are always a cricketer’s best friend in a recovery meal before a match. It helps replenish the glycogen levels in the muscles.

In the non-veg department, I would ask for fish – especially salmon, mackerel or sardines, as they are high in Omega-3. High Omega-3 levels in the season will help in lowering inflammation, lowering heart-rate, boosting immunity, and improving lung capacity. Research has shown that Omega-3 boosts lung function and brain cognitive abilities. If you’re searching for vegan sources of Omega-3, I highly recommend methi powder, chia seeds, and walnuts.

Cricketers can consume seaweed or algae-based Omega-3, and those who prefer non-veg food items can just eat fish or take two Omega-3 capsules post game and two capsules at breakfast.

Many players may have a sensitivity to Omega-3 and get pimples. I send all my elite players’ food intolerance test reports to Germany before I inform them of foods to eat and foods to avoid. Heed all my advice, but with caution. No one size or type of food fits all.

· Before the match, the food design goes crazy. There are over 30 foods that I like to prescribe three hours before a match. These get randomised depending on the batter or the bowler. If you want the list, get in touch with me. As a general prescription, coffee taken about one hour before the start of play is good. I would stick to single shots and rather have another cup of coffee halfway through the match. But mind you, never more than 100ml each time, and the age-old Indian filter coffee is good.

Many players do take caffeine gels. That’s okay too, provided you have calculated the caffeine dosage, which is 3-9mg per kilogram of body weight. So if you weigh 70kg, you can take 210 to almost 630mg per day. A cup is about 80-100mg, and so I would not give an IPL player more than three cups of coffee as he needs to get to sleep after a game. I once heard of a player who drank three cans of a caffeinated beverage and did not sleep till 8am the next morning. Coffee is, however, great for alertness and a boost in performance.

· At the ground, I advise most players to eat energy bars or even sandwiches, but nothing more. Once they finish a game, I would recommend that they consume 20-30 grams of protein and a carbohydrate-based dinner to recover quicker.

· Before sleeping, it is great to have chamomile tea, 25 pistachios, four walnuts, and perhaps hot chocolate if there is space. Most players complain to me that they have to get up in the middle of the night to urinate, and I tell them that I need to keep the eating recovery on from 2am till they are awake. Sometimes, for players who are not allergic to milk, I recommend casein. For those who can’t consume dairy, I recommend coconut or almond boosters. I do a lot of soups for the boys in meetings.

If any IPL coach is reading this, this summer is going to be brutal on the players’ brains and muscles. Hydration with a 6 percent isotonic solution is a must.

Make sure that the players get warm showers after the game. Look up the new science that has just reversed the ice-bath theory of the last decade. Reserve the ice-baths for the next day.

This IPL, I’m betting my oranges and beetroots on Kohli. Good luck to all the cricketers as you entertain a billion-plus souls.

P.S. To everyone reading this who will be sitting on a couch during these seven weeks – stay away from the online apps for foods as you will be killing your arteries. Get great salads on for this IPL. Maybe work out by doing four push-ups for every four runs…you get the drift. Cheers with cold alkaline nimbu paani (soda is allowed, no sugar if you’re not a player).

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