The creation of a tennis player’s diet plan can be challenging. Tennis is an intermittent sport characterized by short bursts of high intensity and active and passive rest periods with intermittent bouts of high intensity.
It’s not uncommon for players to push themselves for up to five hours or more, and pros such as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Carlos Alcaraz can cover up to 10 miles on the court in just 15 percent of that time.
Long-haul endurance and unbreakable concentration are also necessary for this high-intensity performance where professional athletes compete at the highest level
Tennis nutrition involves more than just a banana changeover and a few swigs of sports drinks when it comes to nutrition. In order to fuel speed, power, agility, endurance, alertness and endurance, you must take a smart nutritional approach for both your brain and your body.
Tennis nutrition tips will help you ace your training and dominate the court long into the late sets.
We’re going to give you all the information you need to develop a simple, but effective nutrition plan for tennis players. The complete guide to tennis player nutrition can be found here.
Tennis matches and tennis training require intense physical exertion on your body. You must nourish your body with the right foods and liquids in order to perform at your best. You can stay at the top of your game if you follow a well-designed diet plan that improves your endurance, strength, focus, and recovery.
Importance of Proper Nutrition for Tennis Players
Nutrition plays an important role in the performance of tennis players and their overall health. Energy is provided to sustain long matches, muscle recovery is accelerated, injury risks are reduced, and mental acuity is enhanced. It is important to maintain a healthy weight and support the immune system so that the body is able to perform at its best.
Important nutrients, vitamins and minerals for tennis players
It’s important to balance your macros, micros, vitamins and minerals on and off the court in order to maintain good health.
Here’s a quick look at the components of a good tennis diet.
Nutrition for tennis players
It is possible for players to burn between 1,100 and 1,700 calories during a 150-minute match. An athlete should consume carbs, protein, and fats in a well-balanced diet to fuel that effort. In addition, vitamin and nutrient supplements are essential for a healthy immune system as well as joint, tendon, and ligament health.
Bananas are packed with rapid release carbohydrates – your body’s preferred fuel source during exercise, especially when sprinting around a tennis court at a high heart rate.
In order to fuel your ball chasing and baseline scurrying, your body converts carbohydrates into glucose, which is readily available to you. In the muscles and liver, your body’s main energy reserves, any excess glucose is stored as glycogen. Exercise that is intense enough to empty these glycogen stores takes between 60 and 90 minutes, depending on the amount of glycogen stored.
The amount of carbs you consume depends on whether you’re training, competing, or resting. Your body composition can be affected by too many carbs on lighter recovery days and too few carbs on training days.
Your glycogen tanks should be full before training sessions and matches. When the intensity is moderate to high, tennis players should aim for 5-7 grams per kilogram of bodyweight daily. When the intensity is high, or during tournament weeks, players should aim for 7-10 grams per kilogram daily.
Experts recommend adding 30-60 grams of carbs per hour to training and match play beyond 90 minutes. A crucial part of effective recovery is restocking your tanks with carbs following training and matches.
Your body is primarily made up of protein. It promotes recovery between training sessions by repairing muscle damage and micro tears. After matches, it helps the muscles absorb glycogen, refueling them for your next training session.
The amount of protein required by individuals varies. You can also affect them by changing your training frequency, duration, and intensity. It is recommended that you consume 1.6 grams of vitamin D per kilogram of bodyweight per day.
Plants and animals can provide complete proteins, but with meals and snacks like hummus and pita bread and peanut butter on wholewheat toast, you should focus on combinations that provide all 20 essential amino acids.
It’s easy to boost your protein intake during workouts and matches too, thanks to protein shakes, and Veloforte Recovery Shakes are packed with carbs, protein, and electrolytes to speed up your recovery. On-the-go protein bars like Veloforte’s Mocha and Forza are also a great option. As a convenient – and delicious – source of complete proteins, they pack an optimal 3:1 carb to protein ratio.
Health benefits from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Blood pressure levels can be reduced, cholesterol levels can be reduced, and the risk of heart disease can be reduced. As well as supporting recovery, energy supply, and your immune system, they also help you absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A,K,D, and E).
A diet low in saturated fat (healthy fats) – such as cakes, biscuits, crisps, and fatty red meat – should be followed.
In general, experts recommend not exceeding 2 grams of dietary fat per kilogram of body weight each day.
Vitamins, minerals and supplements
It is important for everyone to consume nutrient-dense foods to obtain adequate vitamins and minerals. Tennis nutrition is particularly dependent on these extras in your diet for health and performance.
It is possible to get most of the vital nutrients you need from food alone, but supplements might be necessary in some cases to make up for any deficiencies. If you’re planning a tennis diet, here are a few things you need to be aware of.
As a result of reducing free radical damage after exercise, this antioxidant could potentially speed up recovery time during heavy training cycles or tournament play.
Iron stores are depleted more quickly by tennis players and athletes in general. Training and match performance can be impaired if iron levels are low.
Calcium can be deficient in athletes, particularly those who avoid dairy products, and experts recommend athletes, including tennis players, consume 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams of calcium each day from food or supplements.
Sodium, potassium and magnesium
Energy metabolism and muscle function depend on this nutrient.
Research suggests zinc can speed recovery from colds by promoting growth, cell reproduction, and testosterone production. Eggs, peas, chickpeas, and pumpkin seeds are all good sources of vitamin C. Although the studies used supplements, peas, chickpeas, and pumpkin seeds are natural sources of vitamin C.
In addition to strengthening the supporting muscles to compensate for tennis players’ joints’ damage – particularly their knees – studies have also shown that taking glucosamine supplements may be beneficial. A 28-day supplementation with 1,500 mg per day resulted in significant improvement in knee flexion and extension in patients with acute knee injuries.
In addition to enhancing muscular strength and size, studies suggest that creatine supplementation also increases maximum strength, reduces muscle fatigue, and improves anaerobic performance.
When caffeine is taken at the right time, it boosts alertness, fends off fatigue, and makes efforts seem easier. Another study found that serving speed improved in a prolonged match simulation after caffeine supplementation improved hitting accuracy in women. Despite the fact that caffeine affects individuals differently, research shows that tennis players could benefit from doses of 3 mg kg of caffeine when they play matches longer than two hours.
Best food for tennis players
Tennis players are no different. Carbohydrates are an essential part of their diet. There is nothing like pasta to provide steady energy, neutral taste (no need to repeat heavy flavors during the second set tie break), and ease of digestion. If you prefer gluten-free options, you can find them here.
If you choose the right grains, grains provide complex carbs and nutrients that support performance and recovery. In addition to being high in iron and magnesium, quinoa is an excellent source of complete protein for plant-based athletes. Antioxidant rutin is found in high concentrations in buckwheat, which reduces inflammation. Basically, anything whole wheat is a good choice, including oats, sorghum, and anything made from wheat.
Greens and cruciferous vegetables
Spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cabbage leaves and other low-fat, low-carb, high-fibre vegetables offer a lot of nutritional value. Aside from being a great source of folate, vitamins A and C, they are also packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients. These plant-based compounds have been found to reduce inflammation and support recovery when added to meals and smoothies.
Providing fast-acting energy courtesy of simple carbohydrates and around 450mg potassium, bananas are a tennis player’s favorite. Along with manganese, vitamin C, B6, and fibre, they are also rich in manganese, which plays an important role in protein metabolism.
It’s great to top up glycogen in the pre-game period and to recover quickly afterward with energy bars. Their practicality and versatility make them a good choice for this list. There is a difference between energy bars when it comes to taste and nutrient content.
With natural sources like dried fruit, nuts, and guarana, Veloforte’s Energy Bars offer the perfect balance of nutrients for lasting energy that supports your body.
Energy gels and chews
Changeovers last 60 seconds, and set changes last 90 seconds, so players need to replenish their energy quickly. This gap is filled by energy gels and chews that provide instant energy boosts without too much stomach strain.
With Veloforte’s all-natural energy gels, you can feel good about your gut health. Dates and rice are good sources of energy-boosting carbohydrates and sugar that are easy on the stomach compared to processed forms.
Beetroot and beet juice
Elite athletes have become accustomed to drinking beetroot juice. It’s packed with nitrates, which can improve stamina, blood flow, and lower blood pressure while boosting stamina. The juice of beets contains a higher level of nitrates than the whole beets.
Tart cherry juice
In some studies, tart cherry juice has been shown to reduce strength loss caused by muscle damage due to specific exercises, in particular eccentric elbow drills that can help tennis elbow sufferers.
Tennis nutrition: what you need to know
- Get to know your rhythms
It starts with mapping out your training and playing rhythms to determine what constitutes a good diet for a tennis player. Would you like to stay in shape and socialize by playing tennis once a week? Does your training schedule include twice-weekly workouts and competitive events?
Identify the factors that can affect your nutrition, such as how often you train, how long you train, what time of day you train, and at what intensity? By doing so, you will be able to refine your fueling needs.
- Identify your good eating habits
The best nutritional changes are those that can easily be incorporated into your daily routines. You need foods that provide energy and essential nutrients, as well as taste good, are easy on your digestive system, and fit into your daily routine.
- Plan your hydration strategy
It takes trial and error and attention to detail to develop a hydration strategy that meets your unique needs. In training, match play, and at rest, keep an eye on your sweat rate, pay attention to thirst, and monitor urine colour. In addition to electrolytes, pre-hydrating powders can also be beneficial when added to your regular water intake.
- Stock up and start testing
Hopefully you now have the tools you need to develop your own tennis diet, so stock up on the essentials. You might want to start by packing a selection of Veloforte’s natural, all-natural bars, nectars, electrolyte powders, and chews into your tennis kit bag. Every tennis player needs a variety of powerful, delicious and carefully balanced options.
Common Dietary Mistakes to Avoid
Avoiding common dietary mistakes is essential for optimizing your performance. Among them are eating too much processed food, drinking too little water, skipping meals, and overeating. Furthermore, excessive sugar consumption can negatively impact your performance and lead to energy crashes.
Importance of hydration for tennis players
Feelings of faintness or dizziness are common symptoms of dehydration, as well as fatigue and muscle cramps. Even 5% dehydration can reduce performance by 30%.
It is fortunate that changeover breaks between tennis games provide tennis players with frequent opportunities to replenish their fluid levels. As opposed to some team sports, little-and-often is easier to follow.
It is important to consider the individual’s fluid replacement needs on and off court. It is important to consider duration, intensity, temperature, and sweat rate when determining hydration levels. However, in mild to moderate temperatures of up to 27°C, it is recommended that athletes drink 200 ml of electrolyte-rich fluid every change-over. In cases where temperatures rise above that mark, players should drink 400 ml.
It is also important to build good hydration habits into your daily routine, and the NHS recommends drinking 1.2 litres of water each day. The likelihood of this increasing increases when you train and play regularly. A good way to manage hydration is to pay attention to your thirst, your urine color (the lighter the urine, the better) and to weigh yourself before and after a match or training session to see what your sweat rate is. According to a general rule, 1 liter of sweat is lost per kilogram of body weight lost.
Minerals are also lost when we sweat. You can enhance fluid uptake, balance, and recovery by adding electrolytes like Veloforte’s Attivo, Vivo, and Solo to your water bottle prior to, during, and after matches.
The night before a game
Brown rice, sweet potatoes, or quinoa are commonly used as gluten-free options or sources of complex carbohydrates.
You can top up your glycogen levels in the morning by eating cereals, porridge, or smoothies.
The players will reach for an additional energy boost an hour before a game. An energy bar with high carbohydrates, low protein, and low fat is often the best choice.
Caffeine is sometimes included in players’ supplements, but it can take up to an hour for it to peak in their bloodstreams. Timing of intake is crucial for maximum effect, as this is highly individual. If caffeine is used excessively, its effects can be dulled.
Tennis players often crave classic recovery shakes after a game, often customised to their tastes and needs. A kit bag with these snacks is easy to pack after intense exercise, and they’re easier to stomach than proper foods.
The ideal balance between carbs and protein might be found in a Veloforte Vita or Nova shake with 30g of protein and 50g of carbs. Following this snack, they’ll refuel with a protein-rich meal and other snackable sources of good, complete proteins.
Tips for Eating Healthy on the Go
Tennis players may find it challenging to maintain a healthy diet while on the go. Choosing nutritious foods is easy if you follow these tips:
Make sure you plan and pack your meals and snacks in advance.
Protein bars, fruit, or trail mix are all portable options.
When eating out, choose healthier options like grilled chicken or salads.
Reusable water bottles will help you stay hydrated.
Avoid excessive snacking and watch your portion sizes.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Tennis players need to maintain a healthy weight because it affects their agility and endurance. Keep your calorie intake and energy expenditure balanced by eating nutrient-rich foods. If you want a plan tailored to your needs and goals, consult a sports dietitian or nutritionist.
Professional Tennis Player Diet
Probably the player most famous for his diet is Novak Djokovic. A student of wellness and wellbeing Novak takes the view that his body is a temple and he looks after it as best he can. Some highlights from his strict diet plans;
- A gluten-free diet and no meat in his diet
- No meat
- No dairy
- He also cuts out as much sugar as possible.
- His diet is based on vegetables, beans, white meat, fish, fruit, nuts, seeds, chickpeas, lentils and healthy oils – whole unprocessed foods.
- He eats organic food where possible, preparing his food and his pre-match meal where possible
- Slow and deliberate eating
It is not just diet that has improved Novak’s life, he focuses on meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises. At the age of 37 he seems as strong as ever so something must be working!
What should I eat before a tennis match?
Consume easy-to-digest carbohydrates and moderate protein (ideally lean protein) prior to a tennis match. Bananas with almond butter or wraps with turkey and whole grains are good examples. Don’t just rely on energy bars.
Is it necessary to take supplements as a tennis player?
Most nutrients can be obtained from a balanced diet, but some players may benefit from specific supplements. Sports dietitians and healthcare professionals can provide you with personalized advice.
Can I eat fast food occasionally as a tennis player?
As fast food contains a lot of unhealthy fats, sodium, and sugar, it is best to limit its consumption. When possible, choose healthier options and always try and eat fresh food.
How can I stay hydrated during a match?
For electrolyte replenishment during matches, consume sports drinks or electrolyte-infused water.
What are some healthy on-the-go snack options for tennis players?
Fruits, trail mix, protein bars, and pre-cut vegetables with hummus are healthy on-the-go snack options.
For tennis players striving to improve their performance, a well-designed diet plan is essential. You can enhance your energy levels, improve endurance, and support muscle recovery by fueling your body with the right nutrients and staying properly hydrated.
To tailor a diet plan to your individual needs, consult a sports dietitian or healthcare professional for detailed nutrition plans.
Another top tip is to experiment, our bodies are all different and we all react differently to food and at different times of the day. Tim Spector has been doing some fascinating work with his company Zoe. This looks at how we react to certain food.
I have played in tournaments and club matches over the years and I find that you must be prepared to be flexible with diet also. Sometimes matches run over, rain delays play and you can find yourself playing an hour later than you thought. Therefore players must balance diet and timings. Just remember John Isner and Nicolas Mahut’s marathon match in 2010 at Wimbledon which spanned three days and different hours.