Tennis requires intense physical activity with matches lasting numerous hours. While playing tennis, a player executes many short burst sprints which add up to several miles of running throughout the day’s events. This equates to massive amounts of calories burned for energy. Your tennis diet must prepare, sustain, and replenish your energy levels.
Tennis Diet Tips to Keep You in the Game
Just like momma always told you, breakfast is the most important meal of your day. Your body needs fuel to get going after having fasted while you slept. For tennis players, it’s even more crucial to prepare you for the intense physical challenge ahead. The ideal tennis diet supplies you with steady energy throughout the day. You want to eat less more frequently all through the day. Get started with the following guide:
1) Pre-match: Carbs and Protein.
The rule of thumb is to have a meal 3 to 4 hours prior to the match. Depending on when your match is scheduled, this may or may not be possible. This meal should be high in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and low in fat. You should also eat a small snack 1 to 2 hours prior to the tennis match. The snack could include things like bananas, energy bars, and water.
2) In match: Glycogen.
During a tennis match you will use massive amounts of energy which depletes the glycogen in your body. Glycogen is your body’s secondary storage for long term energy. The best way to replenish your glycogen during a match is with fluids high in complex carbohydrates. You may also want to eat some of the snacks you ate before the match. During a match it’s vitally important to remain hydrated. This means drinking water or other fluids every 15 minutes if possible, whether you’re thirsty or not.
3) After match: Recover
The name of the game after the match is recovery. You must recover from the massive amounts of energy you used while playing. Foods and drinks ideal for this purpose are high in protein and carbohydrates. You also need a natural sodium source such as cheese. You should take this meal within 2 hours after your match.
4) Hydration is key.
You should drink no less than 8 glasses of water daily to maintain your strength and fitness. You can also drink milk, fresh fruit juices, and decaf coffee and tea. Avoid caffeinated beverages before, during, and after your matches. Due to the high sugar content, sports drinks should be limited to periods of physical activity.
5) Remember: Lean, Complex, and Nutritious
You should consume ½ to ¾ of your bodyweight in protein daily. Lean proteins are best such as lean meats and poultry. All the carbohydrates you eat should be complex carbohydrates such as brown or whole wheat bread, brown rice, pasta, and cereals like oats and barley. Starchy vegetables are another great source of complex carbohydrates. You also need to focus on vitamins, nutrients, and minerals. You get these from a balance of vegetables, fruits, and supplements.
Diet is Everything
For high-performing athletes, diet truly is everything. Your body expends massive amounts of calories while you play, so it’s important to eat well before, during, and after activity. It’s also important to pay close attention to what you’re eating. Stay away from high sugar and caffeine. Eat lean meats, complex carbohydrates, and nutrients from fruits and vegetables. Let these tennis diet tips guide you, but discuss your diet plan with your doctor and tennis instructor.
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