Tennis And Nutrition

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To support performance, tennis players need to maintain a balanced diet adapted to their lifestyle. The needs are different before, during and after exercise. Let's see a few things you can do to improve performance and have fun doing so!

Everyday Diet

Proper nutrition is an everyday essential. Carbohydrates, lipids and proteins are energy nutrients. They provide energy (calories) to ensure proper body function.

As an athlete, you should seek out the following proportions:

  • Carbohydrates (sugars): at least 50 to 55% of the energy intake
  • Proteins: 10 to 15% of the energy intake
  • Lipids (fats): 35 to 40% of the energy intake

Carbohydrates (sugars): at least 50 to 55% of the energy intake

Carbohydrates should be the most important part of our diet. Carbohydrates can be classified into two main groups: complex (i.e. starch) and simple (table sugar, sweets) carbohydrates. It is recommended to eat mostly complex carbohydrates as they stimulate less insulin production. Additionally, they provide a feeling of fullness that helps reduce compulsive snacking.

In athletes, the proportion of carbohydrates can be increased up to 60-70% of the total energy intake, depending on the time of consumption and on the goals. 

Proteins: 10 to 15% of the energy intake

In addition to their energy supply role, proteins help build and repair tissues, including muscles. Athletes have slightly higher needs in proteins compared with sedentary individuals, particularly during muscle strengthening periods. The protein proportion can then be increased depending on the athlete's goals.

The needs are:

  • 1.5 to 1.7g / kg / day for endurance athletes in muscle maintenance period
  • 2 to 2.5g / kg / for an athlete in muscle development period.

Consuming too much proteins is pointless since they are not stored by the body.

Lipids (fat): 30 to 35% of the energy intake

They are commonly referred to as "fats". Among other things, they provide energy, which can be used immediately or stored in fat cells.

Before The Game

This phase allows you to prepare your body for the match. You need to keep an eye on any changes in weight, which may require an adjustment in energy expenditure linked to the increase in training and daily calorie intake. A balanced diet facilitates energy management, thus helping to maintain a stable weight. It is recommended to avoid changing your diet habits.

The Day Before

The day before a match is your last chance to pack up on energy. The meal the night before should therefore be high in carbohydrates. It is recommended to opt for foods rich in slow carbohydrates (such as pasta, rice, potato, bread, etc.) and to limit the amount of lipids.

Adapt your meal proportions! They should be suited to your body type. If oversized, they could cause bloating or insomnia, and undermine your game the next day. So be careful not to indulge too much during the traditional pasta-party!

The Last Meal Before A Game

It should be copious but easy to digest. Ideally, it should end three hours before the match, to avoid causing digestive problems.

If your stomach has not finished digesting what you've eaten, your muscular system will compete with your digestive system to have its needs met, which can either lead to digestive problems or lowered performance.

This meal should be predominantly carbohydrates (starches) so as not to dip into your precious energy reserves. Its composition depends on the time of the match: If the match is in the morning, your breakfast is the last meal. It should be composed of a hot beverage, a grain product, and a fruit or compote. If the match is during the afternoon, lunch will be your last meal. It should be composed of starch foods (pasta, rice, semolina, quinoa, etc.), lean meat (poultry) and possibly some sauce (but avoid fatty sauces! ), then a compote or a fruit. If the match is in the evening, the afternoon meal should have the same composition as breakfast.

Finally, as always, hydration remains a critical point during this last meal!

During The Game

Adopting a food strategy during exercise allows you to maintain your energy reserves for as long as possible. This means combining hydration with carbohydrates.

Hydration

During your match, it is important that you drink small sips regularly, every time you change ends. Indeed, the intense sweating induced by exercise leads to dehydration and could result in lowered performance, or even injury. Water intake is a key factor to maintaining sport performance!

Energy values

As any engine (with or without motor), we use fuel when we exercise.

Our muscles need energy in the form of glucose; but our reserves are limited. You therefore need to take them on during exercise!

Several options are available:

  • Isotonic drinks have the advantage of providing everything in one single product. They offer a mineral content similar to or slightly inferior to body liquids (sodium, potassium or chlorine).
  • Energy gels. They have a higher carbohydrate content but should be consumed with water.
  • Energy bars: They are high in carbohydrates.  They have the advantage of reducing the sense of hunger because they require chewing.
  • Finally, you can also use gingerbread, fruit jellies, or event raw fruits such as bananas, almonds or prunes.

All these products should be tested during training to ensure that they are easily digested. And it will help you establish your own nutritional strategy.

After The Game

Having a healthy diet on a daily basis, paying specific attention to the last meal before the match, maintaining nutrition during the game: it's all fine. But managing post-game nutrition, i.e. recovery, is event better, particularly if you are playing a tournament, where one match follows the other! The objectives of recovery are many:

  • To rehydrate your body,
  • To remineralize your body,
  • To ensure the replacement of energy stores,
  • To aid muscle recovery,
  • To eliminate fatigue-induced toxins,
  • And finally to restore the acid-base balance.

The recovery stage is crucial for progress and physical performance. Indeed, if your recovery is poor, the body cannot regenerate. Several factors come into the recovery stage: rest, diet and stretching. When the game is over, stretch, hydrate and have a snack within the half hour for optimal recovery. The best option is to use a recovery drink.

 

Quentin FABER

Responsable de Rayon Decathlon Limoges Le Vigen - Classé 15/2, Ambassadeur Artengo"

Marie FAUCHILLE

Nutritionniste APTONIA

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