I was asked to write about this for a local tennis club and thought I would add on here for anyone who is keen to optimise their tennis performance and recovery through nutrition.
Fuelling your body the right way before and after a tennis match is important for sustained energy, optimal performance, fuel for your muscles, better recovery, muscle repair, healthy bones and injury prevention.
Let’s look at the food groups that should be covered before and after matches, and the best times to eat these foods. I have also provided some snack and meal ideas so that you can easily put this guidance into practice.
The body’s preferred energy source is glucose which comes from carbohydrates. It is important to eat something before you play, but what you eat pre-match is dependent on timing. Ideally you would eat a carbohydrate-based meal 2 to 4 hours beforehand, however sometimes you may have no choice but to eat closer to your match, for example if you are playing early in the morning. If you do have an early morning match, eating a largely carbohydrate-based meal such as pasta or rice the night before will top-up your glycogen stores (this is glucose that your body stores to use when it exercises) so you can then just eat something light in the morning.
As a general rule, follow the below advice on what to eat and when:
Nutrition is just as important after you play to aid recovery. Ideally you should eat within a couple of hours of finishing your match. The nutrients that are essential post-match are:
Here are some examples of post-match snacks or meals. These are all fairly simple and easily digestible foods in most individuals, meaning that the nutrients can be absorbed readily and do their job more quickly.
Remember that hydration is also essential at any time, so ensure that your fluid levels are topped up before, during and after you play.
I hope this has given you some ideas, and helped you to understand how optimal nutrition can help with your performance and recovery. Please note that any food ideas are just guidelines and to adjust accordingly if you have specific dietary requirements.
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Francesca Grace Lancaster
Nutrition in Northwood, Rickmansworth and surrounding areas.