Protein will help your cricket.
It's not as important as technical ability, physical fitness and tactical nous, but it has a role. As you are going to eat protein anyway, you may as well make the most of what it can do for you on the pitch.
The good news is that it's not difficult.
There's no weighing of chicken breasts and measuring out macro nutrient breakdowns. Sure, you can do those things if you have a specific reason. For the average cricketer you simply need to dial into the basics and get on with playing God's own game.
Here is a quick and dirty summary of the stuff you need to know about protein for cricket.
You need protein
Let's bust a common myth before we go on: everyone needs protein.
It's used by your body to produce important enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and antibodies. Protein helps replace cells allowing you to self-repair. It also is an important element in controlling body fat. Without these things you would be fat and sick.
That much is not in debate in the nutrition community.
Where there is some difference of opinion is how much protein you need.
How much protein is right for cricket?
Research has show that to stave off illness you need about 0.8g of protein per kg in body weight. Or, in layman's terms "not very much".
If you play cricket, train and workout regularly, this number goes up to about 2g/kg.
This jump up allows for a lot more benefits including increased athletic performance, reduced body fat and better immune function.
Or, again in layman's terms: Eat a good portion of lean protein at every meal. Types of lean protein are chicken, turkey, beef, eggs, milk and fish. You can also get protein from veggie sources; especially beans, nuts, grains and spirulina.
If you stopped there and did nothing else, well done you are about right.
But there are some further nuances that you can use to get even better.
Protein supplements for cricket
There is a lot of hype around supplements, so the first thing to do is disregard all marketing. It's not aimed at you anyway. There is certainly no requirement to use powders if you want to be better at cricket.
Supplementing with protein powder is traditionally associated with bodybuilders. It's more commonly accepted in cricket now as professionals have been using supplements for a few years and it is filtering into the lower levels of the game.
We know it helps through the same reasons as above.
There are various types of protein on sale and there are some small differences (for example whey is more quickly digested than casein meaning that whey is better before and after training). These differences don't make enough of a difference to a cricketer to be significant.
A good whey, or possibly blend protein that tastes OK is fine to use. At worst it will do no harm, and best it is a convenient way to get protein in around times when you can't have a meal (like during a game).
Feel free to delve more into the world where amnio acid types and BCAA's are part of the picture if you really want, but I would personally think it's better to just get to the nets with a bog standard bottle of chocolate flavour whey.
Extra protein advice for cricketers
- Spread your protein out throughout the day to supply a steady stream to your body. This is especially important during game day where protein is broken down further than normal when batting and bowling.
- Get some protein in before and after matches. Protein powder is a good solution for this, but not essential.
- If you are concerned about your protein intake, track what you eat for 2 weeks and see if you are getting 2g/kg. If not, step it up!
- It's hard to eat too much protein, but a lot easier to not get enough, so err on the side of more.