Badminton is the fastest racquet sport in the world, which requires rapid footwork, quick reflexes, agility, resilience, craftsmanship, speed in conjunction with superb conditioning. The anaerobic energy system is relied upon heavily during high intensity intermittent bursts of energy expenditure. The aerobic energy system is required throughout longer rallies and during periods of recovery
A Training Diet
Badminton players should aim to have a healthy balanced diet consisting of:
- Vegetables and legumes
- Wholegrain bread & pasta, brown rice, noodles, wholegrain cereals, new potatoes with the skin
- Low Fat dairy products – Milk, yoghurt and cheese
- Protein rich foods – Lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, tofu and pulses
- Healthy fats – Olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocado
- Lot of water
Carbohydrates are the essential sustenance needed to provide energy for high intensity training or during competition. Therefore, meals should be based around foods rich in healthy carbohydrates to ensure sufficient fuel during activity. Try not to consume foods high in saturated fats and limit overall fat intake.
Eating and drinking immediately after training is highly advised as these promote recovery and storage. Recovery of the losses your body undertook during training; also your body is more efficient at storing recovery fuel directly after training/matches. Healthy carbohydrates and fluids help replace glycogen and water losses throughout a match, it is scientifally proven that the muscles store more glycogen immediately after activity.
Protein is also essential to the recovery and to the maintenance of the body post-matches and training. Protein provides the amino acids responsible of rebuilding muscle tissues that are damaged during intense, prolonged exercise. It can also increase the absorption of water from the intestines and improve muscle hydration. The amino acids in protein can also stimulate the immune system, making you more resistant to colds and other infections.
A few examples of foods and beverages which aid recovery are, jelly beans, crumpets, white rolls, ripe bananas, watermelon, dates, yoghurt, low fat milk, recovery shakes (with low fat milk), Sports drink (to replenish electrolytes) and fresh fruit .
Fluid intake is essential before, during and after training for good hydration because staying hydrated affects performance and can be the difference between a win and a loss. For training under 1 hour, it is claimed that water is the best,cheapest and the most convenient option. For longer sessions or when training is extremely demanding on the body, using sports drinks is a good option, as they not only assist with hydration but also provide extra carbohydrate for the working muscles. Athletes should be aiming to have very pale urine most of the day, indicating a healthy level of hydration.
A pre-competition meal is important to maximise glycogen stores which will fuel the body during competition. The meal should be consumed approximately 2-4 hours prior to competition to allow enough time for food to be digested. Ideally the meal should consist of a rich source of carbohydrates, be low in fat and fibre to allow for easier digestion and avoid stomach discomfort during exercise.
Some examples include:
- Toast/crumpet/muffins + spread + yoghurt
- Bowl of cereal + reduced fat milk + fruit
- Pasta + tomato based sauce + dinner roll
- Ham & Cheese Roll/sandwich + fruit
- Smoothie with reduced fat milk/yoghurt, fruit & honey
If like myself, you find it difficult to eat before competition or suffer from an easily upset stomach, then you can have a liquid meal equivalent or fruit smoothie which avoids the full bloated feeling.
During Competition Diet
Timing your meals can be difficult due to the unpredictability of scheduling during competition. However these snacks are imperative to ensuring you have the fuel and fluid required to perform at your optimum.
During match play, if the correct nutrition strategies have been adhered to, then drinking water will suffice (for me that's Ribena). At times I take a banana onto court and take bites during sets or drink breaks. The main objective is to minimise carbohydrate depletion and the loss of fluid/electrolytes – so eating fruit, cereal, breakfast bars, dried fruit, jam or honey sandwiches and sports drinks are good to replenish fuel.
The same processes undertaken during post training (stated above) can be applied when thinking about post competition nutrition. You should aim to eat within one hour of playing; this will give you the most nutritional benefits for recovery and replace energy stores.
Consume foods rich in carbohydrates to restock on glycogen and protein to repair muscle damage. We have established that fluids play a vital role in aiding the recovery process and if the correct foods and fluids are consumed the benefit to your body will be hydration, muscle repair, growth and immune system protection.