Tennis 'Super Feature' (part 2) - Nutrition

Part 1 of our ‘Tennis super feature’ discussed ways a tennis player can incorporate a form of resistance training into their schedule to improve their game. In part 2 we are going to discuss which foods should feature in a tennis player’s diet, and when is the best time for them to eat these foods! It goes without saying each athlete is an individual, therefore different foods work better for different people; however a lot of tennis players will benefit from these foods!

Day before match

As we have already established tennis is an extremely intense sport which can go on for hours, therefore it is vital the day before your nutrition is spot on! The day before a match as a tennis player you want to be aiming for 5 good quality meals, with around 2g of carbohydrates per pound of body weight! This has nothing to do with ‘muscle building’ instead it is purely to ensure there are adequate levels of energy available, which can last for the duration of the game. It is vital that the carbohydrates are very slow burning, so you need a very low G.I source of carbs. Sweet potato, brown pasta, brown rice, oats and brown bread are all great options! It is carbohydrates of this nature which provide energy for the longest periods of time, helping an athlete such as a tennis player sustain their endurance for as long as possible!

Morning of match

Breakfast is the most important meals of the day, we are told this from nursery school age! This is one of the few things I really took notice of from my school days!!! Breakfast is indeed the most important time of the day for a tennis player to get their day rolling before a big match! Oats, with mix of berries, ½ banana and some raisins all mixed together with water to make a scrumptious bowl of porridge is ideal! To compliment this, they should have between 100-200g of low fat natural yoghurt with some pineapple chunks to help spike their blood sugar levels. This will actually help them maintain steady blood sugar levels through the game which is vital for energy levels!

Pre-Match

Around 2 hours before a game a tennis player should look to get the final meal in to help ensure their muscle glycogen levels are loaded, their blood sugar levels are steady and they are ready to play! This meal should include slow burning carbohydrates, with sweet potato the best choice because it isn’t too heavy to digest! Protein is also an important nutrient for this meal to help stabilise the blood sugar levels and provide adequate muscle recovery nutrients to the player. White fish is a great choice here simply because it is a fast digesting protein which is easily broken down by the body. You don’t want a heavy slow digesting protein sat in your stomach whilst your playing a match!

During the match

As the match progress the tennis player’s energy levels will begin to fade, as their muscle glycogen levels become more and more depleted. Snacking on small amounts of banana during the short intervals between sets will help keep the muscle glycogen levels full and provide a trickle of energy.

Post-match

After a gruelling tennis match the player will be totally depleted, worn out and their muscles will need plenty of nutrients to help the process of recovery. Taking on some pineapple right after their match, along with some white toast and jam will give them some high glycemic carbohydrates to kick start the recovery! Approximately 45 minutes after this they can begin to take on a meal ideally with baked potato and some quality protein such as chicken to aid the recovery!

There you go tennis players, a comprehensive guide to show what you would ideally eat in the run up to a game, during the game and even afterwards!

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