Badminton is a sport that requires endurance and fast reflexes. It’s a highly aerobic sport that requires an extremely high level of fitness and a body that can recover quickly from match level performances. An average Badminton match doesn’t always last as long as a tennis match, but in a typical rally the shuttle is in play for much longer periods of time. This demands a high level of energy and concentration, both physical and mental, requiring a stepped up “nutritional game” to match this level of effort.
Believe it or not, your performance on the Badminton court starts long before you ever pick up your racket. Getting enough water and the right nutrition, every day, can make the difference between being “mediocre” and “stellar” on the court. So a Badminton player has to take care of his nutritional requirements on and off his Badminton days to maintain optimal performance, including consuming enough calories, eating an effective ratio of macro nutrients along with adequate vitamins and minerals.
Your Everyday Eating Strategy
A body undergoing consistent and intense exercise needs the highest quality nutrition it can get. Consider your daily diet as the underlying foundation that supports your “peak” performance moments. Without a good foundation, building integrity suffers. Without a suitable diet, you won’t be able to perform at your best in competition.
- Eat a variety of whole foods, fruits, vegetables, and other nutrition dense foods every day.
- Try eating smaller meals more frequently, five or six of them daily, to spread out caloric intake, leading to more stable energy levels throughout the day.
- Keep your protein intake at reasonable levels. Most Westerners already consume more than adequate amounts of protein.
- Try to make sure the majority of the fats you consume are “good fats”; polyunsaturated fats from nuts, lean meats, fish, ground nut oils, and soy products. Fat plays an important part in the production of hormones and in regulating the body’s systems.
- Maintain consistent times for your meals. Many find a high quality breakfast particularly important for starting the day off well.
- Be sure to drink adequate amounts of fluids. At a minimum, drink the nutritionists recommended eight 8 oz. glasses of water a day.
If you’re on top of your nutritional intake, you shouldn’t require much in the way of additional vitamins and minerals, however supplementing with a good multi-vitamin will not likely do any harm.
On Match Day
Things change a bit when you know you’re going to be on the Badminton court later. It’s important to consume enough calories on match day without overeating, or eating the wrong types of foods. Taking part in several Badminton matches on a single day can easily add an extra 2000-3000 calories on to your calorie requirements in order to maintain peak energy levels. A general rule is to eat foods which are easily digestible about an hour or so before the first match, so as to not feel digestive discomfort during play. Another good rule is to eliminate experimentation with food on match day. You don’t want to take chances on an energy bar you’ve never tried before, or a combination of food that’s not in your usual routine. Your pre-game “nutrition plays” should always be on the conservative side.
Additionally, on match day it helps to:
- Increase your fluid intake by 25% to 50%. Make sure to drink 17 ounces of water in the two hours before the match to give your body a head start on keeping up with its hydration needs. Drinking plenty of water will enable the body to keep cool and improve the performance of the muscles.
- Eat low fat foods that are carbohydrate rich. Snacks should be energy-packed, like trail mix or energy drinks, so long as they’re not laden with extra sugar.
- Stay away from soda, sweets, cookies, and other sugary items. The initial energy boost from these foods only lasts for 20 minutes to an hour. After that, the inevitable “sugar crash” comes to leave you stranded in mid-match.
The Heat of Competition
During the match, a Badminton player’s options are limited, but then, you’re not really thinking about nutrition. You’re thinking about how to win! Still, to keep your body at its peak for the duration of the game, consider these tips:
- Drink water. Lots and lots of water. Drink some every chance you get, especially as the air around you warms and your body temperature increases from activity. Being just 5% dehydrated can reduce athletic performance as much as 15%.
- Keep electrolytes available during the match to help replace what you’re losing through sweat and muscle activity. There are many sports drinks on the market which help to top up electrolytes and other salts lost in sweat during matches. Taking sports drinks can help prevent muscle cramps.
Post Match Recovery
When the rackets and shuttles are put away, it’s time to heal the damage done by the intense activity the body has just undergone. Proper post-game nutrition dramatically decreases the time it takes your body to recover. In as little as fifteen minutes after the match, your body is going to be much more efficient at restoring carbohydrates to the muscles, so pay attention to its needs post game.
- Keep an energy bar in your bag and eat it as soon as you’re able, after the match is over.
- In the next two hours or so, fit a carbohydrate rich meal into your plans. Research has shown that consuming between 100 and 200 grams of carbohydrates after “endurance exercise” is necessary for rebuilding adequate stores of glycogen, the substance in carbohydrates that provides direct energy to the muscles.
- The ratio of carbohydrates to protein in that meal should be about four to one. Protein contains amino acids, the building blocks of muscle tissue. Intense, prolonged exercise like Badminton damages muscles and depletes inter-muscle glycogen stores. Extra amino acids, along with carbohydrates, will help the muscles to repair and recover faster.
- If you can’t quite stomach solid food that soon, try a sports drink or protein shake. Liquids are often easier to digest, and most will help you hit that “carb to protein” ratio pretty closely. Keep drinking in any case. Water is the preferred beverage, but sports drinks containing electrolytes are a good choice too.
Sleep and Nutrition
Though it’s pretty well known that what we eat can affect how we sleep, it’s not as well known that sleep, or the lack of it, also affects our body’s ability to breakdown and process food for nutrition. In order to take best advantage of the foods you’re consuming, make sure you’re also getting adequate sleep. Eight hours of good sound sleep every night will not only keep you alert on the Badminton court, it will help you manage your body’s nutritional needs too.
Good nutrition does as much for your Badminton game as a good racquet or shoes, and can easily level the playing field when going up against a more experienced opponent. Take the time to rethink your daily nutritional intake, for better health and to step up your game this year!