In tennis, proper nutrition and eating right is crucial to performing at a high level. One of the questions often asked by beginner and experienced tennis players is “What should I eat before a tennis match?” It’s a great question and one that most players struggle with.
Atlanta based Nutri Fit Sport Therapy Inc. says, “A diet rich in complex carbohydrates is the key to performance and endurance. Carbohydrates fuel high-intensity work, which correlates to the energy required for serving, traversing the court and returning the ball. Muscles store carbohydrates as glycogen, and consuming small amounts of carbs on a regular basis ensures maintenance of maximum glycogen levels.”
As a result, they recommend selecting pre-game meals and snacks that are:
- Familiar and known to settle hunger
- High in carbohydrate to supply energy for muscle reserves
- Moderate in protein and low in fat
- Quickly digested (not too high in fiber or fat)
Here are some of the best pre-match foods and snacks for tennis players:
- Dried apricots
- Pasta with a little butter
- 100% wholegrain bread
- Reduced fat fruit yogurt
- English muffins
- Whole wheat pita bread
- Granola bars
- Whole wheat crackers
Eating before a tennis match can also help prevent low blood sugar, which can sometimes lead to light-headedness and fatigue.
Nutrition researcher Patrick Owen Ph.D. believes one of the biggest challenges is, “knowing how much food you can eat pre-match… Some people can eat a full meal an hour before a rigorous workout, while others with more sensitive stomachs might have to wait three to four hours.”
However, Dr. Owen also mentions that, “In general, a meal that is around 500-600 calories and is eaten by a 180-pound man two to three hours before a workout should be fine. Smaller snacks of 300 calories or less can be eaten one hour pre-workout, but you should experiment with the timing and meal size to suit your individual needs.”
At the end of the day, what and when you choose to eat prior to a tennis match can make a big difference in your ability to perform. So take the extra time to plan your pre-match food and snacks to make sure you can go the distance and compete hard in your next match.
Are there other foods that you have found success eating before a tennis match? If so, please share in the comments below.
(Photo Credit: Steve Hopson)