Being fit requires the customized combination of exercise, lifestyle habits, and nutrition program for each tennis player. Nutrition for tennis players is arguably one of the most important things you must know if you are really serious about your tennis.
Importance of Proper Tennis Nutrition
Proper nutrition refers to two aspects, namely:
- Balanced nutrient-dense diet filled with healthy food items
- Nutrient timing (i.e., what to eat and when to eat it) in particular.
One without the other will be detrimental to your athletic performance during the match itself. For example, you must adopt a healthy diet designed for maximum athletic performance. The bottom line is if you want to improve your tennis performance, proper nutrition will help you achieve your goals faster!
Planning for Proper Tennis Nutrition
It is safe to assume that most professional tennis players have nutritionist planning their diets to improve tennis performance at every level of competition. Fortunately, amateur tennis players can take a page out of their books by keeping these tennis nutrition tips in mind:
• Incorporate all of the macronutrients and micronutrients necessary for optimum athletic performance including their healthy food and beverage sources.
1. Carbohydrates provide fuel for the muscles through energy production, which is essential during high-intensity physical activity such as during tennis matches. It must be noted that while the liver and muscles store carbohydrates as glycogen, their storage capacity is limited. When the stores of carbohydrates are inadequate to meet the tennis player’s requirements, the results are early fatigue, reduction in immune system function, and impaired competition performance.
Indeed, carbohydrates are the foundation of good nutrition for tennis players. Generally, tennis players will require 3.1 to 4.5 grams of carbohydrates per day for every pound of body weight. But it can change depending on the number of hours you are playing tennis - 1 to 2 hours of play requires 2.7 to 3.6 grams, 3 hours of training means 5 grams, and 4 or more hours requires 5.5 to 5.9 grams.
2. Fats may contribute nearly 75% of the body’s energy demands during high-intensity activity like tennis but the caloric intake from fat should only be 20-25%. If you are on a 2,500-calorie daily diet, then your healthy fat intake should be 55-70 grams equivalent to 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 1 ounce nuts, 8 ounces lean meat/fish/poultry, and 2 tablespoons salad dressing.
But be sure to eat only the good sources of fat including nuts (not eanuts), seeds and fatty fishes as well as plant oils like olive oil and canola oil.
3. Proteins are used for building and repairing tissues, muscles and red blood cells as well as for synthesizing hormones. It is, thus, necessary for tennis players to take the recommended amount of proteins - 0.6 to 0.9 multiplied by your weight in pounds for the required grams of protein from meat, fish, and eggs – for these reasons.
I recommend drinking a high-value protein drink after your game. You will then be able to recover quickly from the high-intensity demands of your match so much so that you may be ready for the next one.
4. Vitamins are necessary for the body to perform specific functions while minerals are important components of hormones, enzymes, and haemoglobin, among others.
5. Dietary fiber adds bulk to food and assists in the absorption of minerals. Be sure to include plenty of vegetables and fruits in your meals.
6. Water is necessary for the transportation of nutrients, wastes and internal secretions as well as in the regulation of body temperature, among other functions in proper tennis nutrition plan for players.
Tip: Fill a 16-ounce glass of water, add a lemon, and then place it on your nightstand before you sleep. Drink it as soon as you wake up in the morning and then continue drinking plenty of water during the day to stay hydrated. One good method to gauge whether you have consumed enough fluid is to observe the color of your urine. If it is colorless most of the time then the fluid consumption is good.
Obviously, you must avoid caffeine, alcohol and sweetened drinks.
• Plan your meals and snacks so that these will provide the necessary nutrients at the right time. Nutrient timing is of special importance during competitive matches.
• Keep a weekly diary of the food and beverages consumed.
Indeed, a healthy diet coupled with good nutrient timing is a must for success on the tennis court! Just make sure to follow a healthy, balanced and nutrient-dense diet consisting of fruits, vegetables and whole grains as well as lean meat, red meat and chicken meat without the skin, legumes and beans, nuts and seeds on a daily basis.
Planning for Nutrient Timing
When a important tennis match is in the works, the following tips on nutrient timing will be useful.
• 2 days before the match
Increase carbohydrate intake two days before the match. The day before the match, you can east pasta with tomato sauce and chili con carne, pizza with side salad sprinkled with low-fat cheese, potato salad with chicken breast pieces, and fresh fruit for your meals.
• Night before the match
Eat high-carbohydrate foods like pasta or rice with tomato or bolognaise sauce topped with chili con carne for the protein component; pizza with side salad but use low-fat cheese; and low-fat milk pudding with natural fruit jam or fresh fruit for dessert.
• Day of the match
Eat a light breakfast with high-carbohydrate content on the day of the match. Cereal or porridge with low-fat milk, toast with natural fruit jam, and fresh orange juice are recommended. Just as in non-athletes, breakfast is the most important meal in proper nutrition for tennis players.
• Mid-day snack
At midday, eat a mid-morning snack of fresh fruit, dried fruits and/or iced buns.
• Mid-day meal
You can always bring a packed lunch filled with healthy food so as to avoid the temptation of eating everything in sight on the buffet table. Pack wholemeal bread sandwiches with healthy fillings like tuna, low-fat cottage cheese, and chicken for proteins and then topped with vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce. Dried fruit or fresh fruit as toppings on plain yogurt is an excellent choice for dessert, thus, rounding up your game day nutrition for tennis performance.
• Between matches
Eating between matches is also designed to keep up your energy with the recommended snacks being high-carbohydrate energy drinks, fruits, and even a crunchy cereal bar.
• After the match
As previously stated, a high-value protein drink is highly recommended after-game snacks.
Discipline is a must for adhering to the appropriate tennis nutrition for players but when it is adopted on a dedicated basis, you will find your athletic performance increasing and you may well win more tennis matches!