Playing tennis can help you achieve a healthy weight.
While there are a lot of great reasons to play tennis (the joy of competition, time with friends, time outdoors), there is one very common reason that serves as a major motivation for many people: playing tennis can help you to achieve a healthy weight.
Unfortunately tennis (like any type of exercise) is not magic, and despite your continued participation, you may find that you are still shy of your weight goals. If that is the case, you may need to re-examine your routine.
In order to maintain your weight, you need to match the calories you take in (eat) with the calories you use during the day (daily activities plus exercise). If you are trying to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit by spending more calories than you eat. If you are struggling to reach your weight loss goals you need to examine both sides of the energy balance equation to see what might be tripping you up.
There is no way around it—your body needs food to survive. There are a minimum number of calories you need to stay alive, keep your body systems healthy, and give you the energy you need to exercise. However, it can be very easy to exceed that amount if you aren’t thoughtful about your food choices. Below are some common ‘bad’ eating habits active people develop that sabotage their weight loss efforts.
1. Sports drinks for dinner. Just because you played a hard match in the morning doesn’t mean you need to re-fuel with sports drinks all day long. Sports drinks are specifically designed to fuel your body during and immediately after exercise. They are high in sugar (carbohydrates) and electrolytes, but that’s about all. Hours after you’ve completed your workout focus on hydrating your body with calorie-free water and feeding yourself nutrient-rich foods.
Food for thought: Sports drinks typically come in bottles with 2.5 servings or more. Each serving is approximately 50 calories. If you have one sports drink for dinner every night, you are drinking an extra 875 calories per week. Opt for water instead.
2. Super-sized Rewards: It is very common to meet up with friends to celebrate completing a hard workout or winning a big match; often the celebration happens around food. While there is nothing wrong with sharing a post-workout snack with friends, it is easy to over indulge in an extra beer, slice of pizza, or bakery treat you might otherwise pass up. Don’t get too caught up in the joy of celebrating. A beer still has the same amount of calories, even if you did just work out.
Food for thought: A beer has between 100 and 150 calories and a slice of pizza has about 250 to 300. Indulging in seconds for both once a week is an extra 450 calories per week. Celebrate sensibly and stick to the first round for each.
3. Fuzzy Math: It is important to feed your body enough to fuel yourself through your workouts; however, it is important to understand exactly how much fuel that really is. It is very common to over-estimate how many calories you actually "spend" during a workout, or the entire day for that matter. Be realistic. You don’t need a 500 calorie pre- and post-workout snack if you are headed out for an easy 30 minute training session.
Food for thought: Research has suggested one reason active people over-estimate the calories they spend is because they compensate for their workouts by being lazier during the rest of the day. For example, you may play a 2-hour match in the morning, but in the afternoon you opt for a nap instead of working around the house. In the end, the total calorie burn for the day is approximately the same with or without the tennis match. As you figure your calorie needs, consider the number of calories you burn during an entire day, not just during your workout.