Nutrition and Tennis
Nutrition and Tennis
Top Tips for Peak Performance
Tennis is a demanding sport, often requiring high energy demands and quick, repeated movements with varying recovery bouts and game lengths. Ensuring you fuel up, hydrate and recover well can help ensure optimal performance and enjoyment of this sport.
A variety of factors influence our individual nutritional needs such as gender, age and body size. The type, amount and timing of food will also depend on the competitive level you are involved in and the specific demands of your training and match schedule. Below are some general nutrition tips to help:
ACHIEVE ‘BASELINE’ BALANCE
The first step for optimum performance nutrition is to ensure that nutrient needs are met by including a variety of nutritious foods across meals and snacks. The Department of Health’s Food Pyramid is a useful tool to guide balanced, healthy eating choices. The second step is to focus on the timing of food and fluid intakes around training sessions, matches and tournaments.
SUPPLEMENTS - WORTH THE ‘RACKET’?
There are no shortcuts - effective training and sensible eating are key. If needed, a sports dietitian can tailor food, fluid and supplement advice to specific needs and goals. Remember, sports supplements are not recommended for those under 18 years of age.
ENSURE THERE’S ‘DEUCE’ IN THE TANK
Fuel up 2-3 hours before a match e.g. pasta or rice with tomato-based sauce and chicken; baked potato with beans and cheese; or cereal with milk/ yogurt. If needed, top up energy with a carbohydrate-based snack 60 mins before sport e.g. cereal bar or fruit smoothie.
PROTEIN ‘POWER PLAY’
Protein foods (milk, lean meat, eggs, beans, lentils, cheese, fish, yogurt) should be included at each meal time. Consuming protein (20-25g) following an intense session is particularly useful to assist muscle growth and repair.
GET A ‘GRIP’ ON HYDRATION
Ensure adequate hydration when beginning a sports session by drinking ﬂuid throughout the day. Rehydrate after sport to replace ﬂuid lost; water or milk are good options.
There is generally no need for an energy top-up during activity if the game duration is less than 60 mins, but continue to hydrate with water at breaks of activity. If a game lasts more than an hour, quick-release energy sources such as a small snack bar, dried fruit, a mandarin or isotonic sports drink may be needed.
‘ACE’ YOUR RECOVERY
Effective recovery is essential to perform your best in the next match or knock-up. Aim to refuel within 30- 60 mins after sport e.g. sandwich with chicken/ tuna/cheese; low-fat/ skimmed milk with banana; flavoured milk; or yogurt with granola.
MILK- IN A ‘LEAGUE’ OF ITS OWN
Interesting research is emerging on the specific benefits of milk in sport, with potential roles in the areas of recovery nutrition being explored. Milk naturally contains nutrients that can help address the 3 ‘R’s of post-exercise recovery:
REFUEL: Milk contains lactose which can help to start the refuelling of carbohydrate stores. Flavoured milks – which contain higher carbohydrate amounts in the form of added sugar – may be useful after a very intense session, or when quick recovery is needed e.g. if taking part in a tournament.
REPAIR: Milk provides the high-quality proteins, whey and casein. Protein plays a valuable role in the normal growth and maintenance of muscles.
REHYDRATE: Milk is a fluid (naturally composed of about 87 % water) and naturally contains electrolytes such as potassium.
For more information download the Sports Nutrition Handbook ‘Fuelling Wise for Sport and Exercise’, with advice on topics such as losing weight; gaining muscle; the role of carbohydrates, protein and fats; tips on hydrating; recovery meals; and supplements.
You can also find further information, including expert videos, here.