Developing a good nutrition plan is essential for tennis players.
© Garrett Ellwood
You’ve committed to put the time in to perfect your tennis game on the court, now it’s time to take the next step: develop a nutrition plan! Good nutrition supplies the fuel you need to perform at your highest level.
Don’t start with an empty tank. Your body needs high quality fuel (i.e. food) in order to have the energy to perform at a high level for the duration of your practice session or match.
- Try to eat a snack within the hour or two before your practice session or match.
- Think high carbohydrate, low fat. Aim for a 200 to 300 calorie snack with between 40 and 100 grams of carbohydrate.
- Adjust the size of your snack based on the timing. The less time you have before your session or match, the less food your body will be able to tolerate.
Before Fuel Suggestions:
• Stonyfield organic yogurt
• Fresh fruits such as bananas, apples, or oranges
• Chicken noodle or vegetable soup
• Granola bar
• Whole grain English muffin or toast with jam
TIP: Experiment with timing and food choices before your practice sessions to learn what works best for you. Keep a food diary to help keep track of what and when you ate, and how you felt. Use this as a guide to develop a pre-match eating plan. Never experiment with new foods before a match!
The most important thing you can do to maintain a high level of performance during a practice session or match is to stay hydrated. During a match (or a practice session 60+ minutes) you should also replenish your carbohydrate and electrolyte stores. This will help you to delay fatigue.
Drink 4 to 8 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes.
FOR MATCHES OR 60+ MINUTE PRACTICE SESSIONS:
- Strive to consume approximately 30 grams of carbohydrates every 30 minutes.
- Choose food or drinks that contain sodium.
During Fuel Suggestions:
• Sports drinks
• Graham crackers
• Energy bar
TIP: Pack a cooler, especially during matches. This will ensure you have the foods you need available. Plus, it will help to keep your water cool, which will make it more appealing to drink.
Re-fill your tank as soon as you can. A post-exercise re-fill replenishes the fuel you just used and begins to build reserves for your next session. This is especially important if you are playing multiple matches in one day.
- Choose a carbohydrate snack that contains some protein.
- Eat within the first 30 to 60 minutes after a workout—that’s when your muscles are best able to replace the fuel they’ve lost.
- Drink 24 oz. of fluid for every pound of body weight lost during exercise.
After Fuel Suggestions:
• Stonyfield Recovery Sour Apple Yogurt Smoothie (see recipe below)
• Pancakes with Stonyfield organic yogurt and syrup
• Whole grain cereal with dried or fresh fruit and Stonyfield organic low-fat milk
• Baked potato with cheese and broccoli
• Bagel with veggies and tuna or turkey
• Peanut butter, honey, and banana sandwich
TIP: Practice your post-exercise eating routine. It can be difficult to eat immediately after intense physical activity, but it is extremely important if you want to have the energy to compete at a high level during multiple matches and on consecutive days. If your body can’t tolerate food right away, try sipping juice or a sports drink. Liquid calories count too!
Fueling your body for peak performance on the court is a full-time commitment. There are no quick fixes for a nutrient-poor diet: your body needs high quality fuel to perform at its best. If you want to achieve your goals on the court, you need to make good nutrition a priority every day.
- Determine calorie needs and strive to meet them through a carbohydrate-rich diet. A good estimate for active people: Weight (in pounds) x 20 = calories/day.
- Achieve the right balance of fuel: Carbohydrates: 50-70%; Protein: 10-18%; Fat: 20-30%
- Eat a variety of nutritious foods to ensure an adequate supply of vitamins and minerals. Supplements are not necessary for most people.
- Hydrate with water throughout the day.
- Focus on whole foods: fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grain carbohydrates, and low-fat dairy.
- Whenever possible, choose organic.
Tips for Success:
- Develop an individual plan. Everybody responds to food—and the demands of competition—differently. It is a process of trial and error to find the right nutrition plan for you.
- Perfect your timing. The higher the intensity of the workout, the more time you will need between eating and exercise.
- Plan ahead. You can’t depend on eating what is available—especially at an all-day tournament. Create a nutrition plan, stock your home with the foods you need, and pack your before, during, and after foods when you travel to a match.
- Stay in balance. Match the calorie count of the foods you consume with the number of calories you expend while playing tennis. Try using a heart rate monitor to help you gauge your intensity level.
Sour Apple Smoothie
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped
1 cup orange juice
1 cup Oikos Organic Vanilla Greek Yogurt
½ cup Stonyfield Organic Fat Free Milk
1 tablespoon flaxseed oil
In a blender, add apple, banana and juice. Blend until smooth. Add yogurt, milk, and flaxseed oil. Blend again. Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
Serving size 220g, Calories 180, Calories from Fat 60, Total Fat 7g, Sat Fat 0.5g, Sodium 35mg, Total Carbohydrate 24g, Dietary Fiber 2g, Sugars 18g, Protein 7g, Vitamin C 60%, Calcium 10%, Iron 2%, Vitamin A 4%.