Health Watch

February 21, 2013 ©Ravi Teja Mandapaka, Editor, ScoopLense™

Let food be thy medicine, let medicine be thy food”

- Socrates

Sports is not all about living on the field, and walking home drenched in sweat and never-ending emotions. It works with handling of the metabolic activity in our organic body. When we talk of metabolism, food is one amongst many yet the changer of game. Basically the point we need to focus on here is that every medicine is source of strength. The only restriction here, however, is its dosage, failing which it leads to catastrophic results and translates into carcinogenic in the later part of life. Sports nutrition stresses on the need for concentrating on various types of food material pumped where in the practitioner needs crucial information on desired effects for strength and endurance.

Here, we want to know about nutrition for Tennis players. For a long time laying on couches unfazed, we have been watching stars delivering their power and precision on grass courts and synthetic courts. Diet for Tennis players is all about taking a few notches in high carbohydrate energy foods and increased hydration with minute details in timing. 

Pre-match eating and hydration guidelines

Players need to pay special attention to their pre-match meals and beverage choices, as these foods and fluids might need to last longer, for hours, during tournaments and multiple match play.


• Familiar to them and known to settle hunger

• High in carbohydrates to supply energy for muscle reserves, moderate in protein and low in fat

• Quickly digested (not too high in fiber or fat)

Examples of pre-match meals and snacks rich in carbohydrates are pasta, bread, fresh fruit, granola bars, energy bars and sports drinks.

Meal Guidelines:

LUNCH (3-4 hours prior to competition)

Turkey or grilled chicken sandwich with mustard
Saltine crackers
1 cup of skim milk
8 oz. serving of PowerAde

PRE-GAME SNACK (1-2 hours prior to competition)

Fruit yogurt or banana
1 cup of water
1 Gatorade energy bar
20 oz. PowerAde thirst quencher

Hydration tips before players hit the court

• Limit/avoid caffeinated beverages (iced teas, coffee, colas) especially right before and after match play. These may cause additional fluid loss as urine.

• The night before, fill and chill squeeze bottles or sports jugs and bring to each practice or match. Each player should have a minimum of 2 liters available courtside.

• Consume enough fluids throughout the day so urine is a light or pale yellow color before starting a match.

• Drink 17 to 20 oz. of fluid within 2 hours pre-match.

Fluid Needs During Play

Thirst is not a good indicator of hydration level. Adequate fluid consumption is a player’s best bet for beating dehydration and heat illness. To keep tennis players performing at their best, encourage fluid consumption every 15 minutes and especially at changeovers. Players should consume 5-10 oz. of fluid (sports drinks containing 17g/8oz carbohydrates and electrolytes are ideal) every 15-20 minutes for optimal hydration and performance.

Favour sports drinks to enhance re hydration  Sports drinks contain carbohydrates and electrolytes, like sodium. Consuming carbohydrates during play has been shown to help players maintain more power and accuracy with serving and ground strokes in long-match play. Powerade contains 17 grams of carbohydrates per 8 ounces, which is quickly absorbed and used by working muscles. Sodium replacement also is important since a significant amount of sodium can be lost through sweat during long tennis matches.

Post-Match Nutrition

• Players should eat foods and drink fluids that replenish muscle energy stores and electrolytes lost in competition.

• Share these guidelines with your athletes:

• Eat carbohydrates as soon as possible, preferably within 30 minutes of a match. Begin by drinking a sports drink as you walk off the court.

• Replace 150 percent of body fluids lost or at least 20 oz. per pound of weight loss within 2 hours of a match.

• Eat a high-carbohydrate meal that also contains a lean protein source within 2 hours after play to maximize muscle glycogen recovery (rebuild energy stores) and to support protein synthesis in muscle.

• During tournament play, be sure to include carbohydrates, protein, fluid and sodium in the evening meal to quicken recovery from play. Consider lightly salting foods and consuming foods and beverages that are natural sodium sources.

• Avoid high-protein and high-fat foods as these will contribute to dehydration.

Example of post-match meal:

2-3 cups of pasta with marinara sauce (light in meat and fat content
2-3 slices of garlic bread (light on margarine)
Salad with vinaigrette or low fat dressing
2-3 cups of Powerade or low fat milk or energy drink


2-3 cups of Chinese-steamed rice with vegetables and chicken stir-fry
2-3 cups of Powerade or low fat milk or energy drink.

This would be ideal for athletes who complain about muscle cramps, fatigue, restless leg syndrome, and depression. As tennis is played under scorching conditions and the matches have no ending time, it’s always important to keep ‘em upfront with diet rich in fiber, carbohydrates and proteins.

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