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Crunch Time

Tamim Iqbal: 'When I am scoring runs, I am very serious about my diet'

Tamim Iqbal talks learning to eat right, the best cook in the Bangladesh team, and where to find great Peking duck in London

"You wouldn't believe how many soft drinks I used to drink when I was a kid, so to give that up was a big thing"  •  Getty Images

"You wouldn't believe how many soft drinks I used to drink when I was a kid, so to give that up was a big thing"  •  Getty Images

What has been your diet like during the pandemic lockdowns? Any different than usual?
It has been quite challenging. We were mostly at home for many months, so we had limited activity. But I wasn't out of shape when I got out of the house.
What is your favourite snack before or after a workout?
There's a lot of protein shakes and bars available these days. I used to like protein shakes but somehow they don't suit me.
What's the one meal you're most likely to eat over and over during the week?
I like having grilled chicken and vegetables. But if you tell me that I can choose food regardless of any consequences, it will be pulao, chicken roast and all that (laughs).
How different are your food habits when playing for Bangladesh and in franchise tournaments?
There's a difference, and I don't blame any franchise or team. It depends a lot on individuals. We are usually eating well when we are playing in the national team. There are a lot of players who keep their food habits intact during tournaments like the BPL, but I have slipped on a few occasions. I have pulled it back in the last two seasons. I am much better now.
One Bangladeshi speciality you'd like to introduce to team-mates from other countries?
When the BPL takes place in Chittagong, many of them want to try the kalo bhuna. They find it a bit spicy. But the most common thing [they want to try] is eating with their fingers. All the overseas players have tried doing it.
When did you implement a structured diet into your lifestyle?
It was in 2015. [Chandika] Hathurusingha [Bangladesh head coach] came down really hard on me, and rightly so. I used to think that as long as I am scoring runs, it doesn't matter how I look or what I eat. I always had that mentality. But when things weren't going in my favour, I was definitely overweight and I wasn't fit.
After our World Cup quarter-final against India, Hathurusingha said a few things to me in the MCG dressing room and it really clicked. From then on, I have definitely improved.
Is there something you really love to eat but have removed from your diet as part of a fitness regimen?
You wouldn't believe how many soft drinks I used to drink when I was a kid - with breakfast, lunch and dinner - so to give that up was a big thing.
What sort of fast food is okay to eat as a professional sportsperson?
Having spoken to experts who know these things, it is not what you eat but how much you eat. If you can fit an ice-cream into your 1800 calories for the day, you can have it.
If you could reward yourself with a cheat meal after a century, what would it be?
I am actually the opposite. When I am scoring runs, when I am happy, I am very serious about my diet.
Which is your favourite country to eat out in when on tour?
London and Dubai. You get every kind of authentic food in London. Dubai is also similarly multicultural. I like these kinds of cities. My favorite restaurant is China Tang in the Dorchester Hotel in London. It has the best Peking duck.
Which of your team-mates is the best cook?
When we are on a long tour and we have kitchen facilities in our hotel, we have a culture of cooking together. Imrul Kayes is our head chef, but when he is not in the team, Mushfiq takes over. He is a very good cook. He cooks chicken. We usually have khichuri, chicken and different types of bhorta. We have done it on many tours, like South Africa and Sri Lanka.
Have you tried your hand at cooking?
I am the organiser.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84