October 20, 2010

Tennis Nutrition: Planning Your Ideal Diet

This is a guest post from avid tennis player and blogger, Maria Rainer.

If you’re going to invest in maintaining the best possible conditions for your primary tennis equipment, your own body should top the list. Sure, it’s important to re-string your racket and make sure your shoes don’t slip, but taking care of your body is even more important. Even beyond wearing braces for vulnerable joints, your diet and nutrition should be a focal point of your tennis fitness routine.

Because it’s so easy to slip when you’re on a specific diet, planning ahead can help you ensure that you’ll have the best possible opportunities to maintain healthy tennis nutrition. To start planning your success, check out the following categories of nutrition you’ll need to address.

General Nutrition
To maximize the benefits you receive from everyday meals, avoid more than three servings of alcohol each week and stay away from excess calories and saturated fats. Make sure that you aren’t experiencing any mineral or caloric deficiencies by taking vitamins designed for your gender, age group, and level of activity.

Use an online calorie intake calculator to determine how many calories you should consume in a given day, then make sure that you don’t come up short of this number or exceed it by too much. You can do this by using a caloric value calculator if you don’t have access to nutrition labels on everything you consume.

You daily caloric intake should be accounted for by the following:

• 3 ounces of whole grain
• 2 ½ to 3 cups of vegetables
• 1 ½ to 2 cups of fruits
• 3 cups of milk products
• 5 to 6 ½ ounces of meat or other proteins
• 2 to 3 liters of water

Pre-Match Nutrition
Many tennis players and nutritionists who understand the demands of extended, high-intensity physical activity advocate carbo-loading before a match. This means that it’s advisable to consume enough carbohydrates to get you through the match without sapping permanent energy stores like muscle.

To do this, avoid “empty” or simple carbs like sugar and white bread and focus on complex carbs instead. Start adding more complex carbs to your diet the evening before your match, at the very latest. Anything that contains barley, buckwheat, bran, cornmeal, oatmeal, wheat germ, brown rice, or similar whole grains will help you store energy for the upcoming match.

Add extra water, juice, and sports drinks to your diet as you begin to consume more complex carbs and consider adding salt to compensate for sodium loss through sweat. This will help you to stay hydrated during the match.

During-Match Nutrition
Keep drinking and make sure that you’ve packed some isotonic sports drinks (containing six to eight percent carbohydrates). Drinks that contain sodium, glucose, and electrolytes are also helpful. Avoid drinking too much straight water, or you might risk causing mineral deficiency.

Post-Match Nutrition
Try to consume a high-carb meal within two hours of finishing your match. If you can do this immediately, you’ll be able to replenish your energy stores much faster than you will if you wait too long. In addition to restoring carbs, you’ll want to keep consuming fluids and electrolytes to make sure that your body won’t be deficient in these important diet components.

To adhere to your new diet, make sure that you plan when you’ll go shopping for groceries, which types of meals you’ll make and when you’ll prepare them, and which restaurants you’ll go to for healthy food that fits your diet. Set yourself up for success by focusing on tennis nutrition and maintaining it with deliberate planning.

Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, researching areas of online degree programs. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved

No comments: