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Nutrition for Tennis

Alcohol Use and Athletics
Historically, society has held numerous myths concerning the drinking and drug-related habits of high school athletes.  Because of the detrimental effects of alcohol on performance, one might think that serious athletes would be less likely to drink alcohol, but this is not the case.

Basic Nutrition for Tennis 
Whether preparing for the club championship or the US Open, a “healthy” diet and body can clearly contribute to a player’s quest to reach peak performance.  In short, what’s good for health is also generally good for tennis. 

Eating Disorders - The Coach's Role 
In the past, eating disorders, in particular bulimia and anorexia nervosa, have gone both unnoticed and untreated.  Within the past decade the number of athletes afflicted with the disorder has greatly increased.  This, in part, is due to both increased pressure in society for thinness and increased emphasis placed on the relationship between body weight and athletic performance.

How to Manage Water and Electrolyte Losses 
Your body produces heat during tennis -- lots of it!  And as intensity and duration of play increase, you face an growing challenge to eliminate the accumulating heat, especially in hot weather.  The best way for a tennis player to get rid of internal body heat during play is by sweating.  But if it’s hot and humid, even sweating doesn’t eliminate heat effectively.

Key Nutrition Pointers for Tennis 
Beyond attempting to regularly consuming a healthy, varied and well-balanced diet, players should particularly focus their efforts on adequate and appropriate consumption of three primary nutrients – water, electrolytes, and carbohydrates. These nutrients have the immediate effect on performance. Some key take home points and recommendations are listed.

Nutrients – What’s in the Food We Eat? 
Carbohydrates are sugars.  Before they are absorbed into the blood, carbohydrates that are consumed are broken down by digestion into single sugar units, such as glucose or fructose. Glucose is the body’s main source of “energy” and is used to fuel the working cells. Fructose (the very sweet sugar of fruit and also found in soft drinks and some sport drinks) can also be used as fuel, but first must be converted to glucose in the liver before it can be used for energy.

Nutrition During Play 
As previously mentioned, carbohydrates and fats are the primary energy sources utilized during a tennis practice or match. However, carbohydrate and water are the only principal nutrients that need to be consumed while playing tennis. For some players, salt intake during play is important for maintaining fluid balance and preventing heat-related muscle cramps.

Performance Diet Principles for Competitive Tennis 
Drink, Drink, Drink!  Drink at least 80 oz. of hydrating fluids per day.  Drink before you get thirsty.  Replace a liter/hour during play.  Sports beverages or water are best on the court; juices, milk, and any other decaffeinated beverages are fine during the day.  Sports  beverages at 6 - 7% absorb quickly from the stomach during match play, i.e. Gatorade.  Fruit juices and sodas should be avoided on the court because of the high sugar concentration.  Try to drink before you get thirsty!

Post-match Nutrition 
After a match, a tennis player’s primary nutritional interest should be restoring fluids, electrolytes, and carbohydrates. If the next match is scheduled to begin soon (e.g., within 1 to 2 hours), re-hydration and carbohydrate intake (about 50-100 grams) should begin immediately.

Pre-match Nutrition 
After a match, a tennis player’s primary nutritional interest should be restoring fluids, electrolytes, and carbohydrates. If the next match is scheduled to begin soon (e.g., within 1 to 2 hours), re-hydration and carbohydrate intake (about 50-100 grams) should begin immediately.

Recommendations for Sports Food Use Chart 
Click above for a pdf file that shows guidelines for consumption in exercise. Must have Acrobat to view.

Supplements and Performance 
From herbs to creatine to chromium, have you been tempted to try a magic bullet to improve your athletic performance?  Many supplements are touted as quick energy boosters, fat burners or muscle builders.  Do these pills and powders really work? 

The Real Beef About Red Meat
Fifty-plus years ago, most athletes were meat-eaters who believed that beef was the best foundation for a sports diet. Steak at dinner converted into bigger biceps by breakfast. Red meat instilled toughness and aggressiveness. But today's athletes have changed their tune.

Vitamins and Mineral Supplements 
As mentioned previously, vitamins and minerals are necessary for the human body to function properly.  At the same time, vitamin and mineral supplements are widely used by tennis players to meet dietary deficiencies, but they are also used with the hope that performance will be enhanced as well.

Vitamins, Minerals & Athletes 
Vitamin and mineral supplements, as well as fruit and vegetable replacements, abound in today’s nutrition marketplace.  Their advertising claims are impressive, but can pills really enhance your health and performance?  Are any problems associated with taking nutritional supplements?  Do athletes have a higher need for vitamins?  If you have ever wondered about the pros and cons of supplements in your own personal sports diet, keep reading.

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