Nutrition for Tennis:
Eat and Drink to Win
Tara Gidus Collingwood | November 14, 2017
Knowing what to eat and drink on and off the court can mean the difference between winning and losing. Follow these nutrition tips to help you perform like a pro!
The food you put in your body directly impacts your performance on the court. Focus on whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats to play at your best.
- 3-4 hours prior: carbs + protein + fat (meal)
- 15-60 minutes prior: carbs (snack)
- Every hour: carbs (30-60 grams)
- Less than 30 minutes after: carbs + protein (snack)
- Less than 2 hours after: carbs + protein + fat (meal)
Carbs = Gatorade sports drinks, energy chews, fuel bars or energy gels; fruit; granola bars; cereal + milk; rice cakes; air-popped popcorn
Carbs + Protein = Gatorade protein shakes or protein bars; chocolate milk + granola bar; cottage cheese + fruit; hard-boiled egg + pretzels; apple + nut butter; turkey jerky + grapes; bean- or broth-based soup
Carbs + Protein + Fat = sandwich (bread + meat + cheese + veggies); yogurt parfait (Greek yogurt + fruit + granola + nuts); smoothie; hummus + pita chips + veggie sticks; peanut butter & jelly sandwich; breakfast burrito (tortilla wrap + scrambled eggs + cheese + veggies)
In tennis, it’s common to have more than one event in a day. Whether it’s morning and afternoon practices or back-to-back matches, refueling between events is key to performing consistently throughout the day.
The amount of downtime that you have determines what and how much you should eat:
- Less than 1 hour: Fluids (e.g., sports drink)
- 1-2 hours: Eat a small snack (e.g., granola bar, banana)
- More than 2 hours: Eat a large snack (e.g., sandwich, chocolate milk, yogurt parfait)
- Eat within one hour of waking up to set the tone for your day and within 30 minutes of stopping play to allow your body to start the recovery process.
- Avoid trying anything new on the day of competition.
- Foods high in fat or fiber slow digestion and may cause an upset stomach if consumed too close to competition.
- Don’t forget to hydrate. This will help you avoid cramps and heat illness.
Tara Gidus Collingwood, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN, is a nutrition expert and the team dietitian for the NBA's Orlando Magic.