As the saying goes, you are what you eat. Unfortunately for most of us, a good tennis player is a lot of healthy food and the avoidance of most ironically-named 'junk food'. It all boils down then, to whether a tennis player derives more joy eating his food, or from playing the best tennis possible in the best physical state possible. For those of you who belong to the former, we suggest you not waste your time reading this blog article. For those of you who belong to the later, you have come to the right place! To make our 'instructions' in this article easier to digest, we have divided the recommended foods into four different time periods: before a tennis game, during a tennis game, after a tennis game, and generally across the day.
Before the match
A healthy breakfast on a day when tennis will be played, is one that includes complex carbohydrates such as whole wheat, oatmeal, and low calorie fruits. These complex carbs will keep a steady energy store which will ensure that your energy is sufficient in both quantity and time duration stored. On top of that, some protein in the form of milk, an egg white or greek yogurt is a good complement to the meal, although protein will be more necessary after the game than before, for recovery purposes. Sugar and fruits (they can actually be classified as a sugary food) should be avoided because have them, and you will risk suffering an energy crash in the middle of your game due to the initial insulin release from the pancreas in order to keep blood sugar levels down.
During a tennis game
During the tennis game, tennis players use so much energy resulting in rapid glycogen depletion. Having high-energy foods (or rather, snacks) during the match will be able to counter this. A perfect snack during a match is a banana, which does not trigger an insulin spike, and provides a quick energy boost mid-match.
After a tennis game
More energy is expended in your body during a tennis game than you think, so it is crucial for athletes to refuel their bodies with a healthy balance of nutrition within 2 hours of completing the match. For the purpose of muscle recovery, a high amount of lean protein such as turkey or fish should be eaten as a balanced meal with some complex carbohydrates and vegetables. As such, we recommend the following (although this is not an exhaustive list): brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, fitness bread (whole wheat 100% grain) with chicken breast or buffalo meat make for a great post-match recovery meal.
There are some foods which would be useful to your performance, when taken anytime in the day, when not playing tennis. We recommend having:
- Carrots: The best known food to improve eyesight, which is absolutely crucial in games like tennis, when all eyes are on the ball all the time
- Oysters, pumpkin seeds, whole grains, sunflower seeds, animal proteins, beans, almonds and nuts: What do they have in common? They are known to be high in zinc. Research has shown that having sufficient amounts of zinc will improve your hand-eye coordination
- Peppers and citrus fruits: These are foods we can think of that have high amounts of Vitamin C without being too sugary. Vitamin C is crucial for the game not because it boosts your immunity, but because it aids muscle recovery Tomatoes, potatoes and egg yolks: These foods are known to be high in choline. Choline feeds your brain’s neurotransmitters and has been proven to improve reaction times.
We recommend not having:
The picture says it all. Anything that has artificially (yes, we recommend having some fruits. just not too often) high amounts of sugar.
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