YLC BLOG: FUELING YOUR BODY AS AN ATHLETEYOUTH LEADERSHIP COUNCIL | USTA SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
NOVEMBER 7, 2023 | SHIVI GOYAL
YLC BLOG: FUELING YOUR BODY AS AN ATHLETEUSTA SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
NOVEMBER 7, 2023
A junior athlete competes at SoCal Junior Sectionals in Fountain Valley.
(Photo – Jon Mulvey/USTA SoCal)
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Whether you’re an ATP professional or a Southern California Junior Sectionals player, fueling your body with appropriate nutrients is vital. Though there are many different diets and programs that athletes can use to stay healthy, it can be hard to know which foods are most important for an avid tennis player.
First and foremost, let’s talk about protein. Protein is extremely important in the diet of any athlete, because it repairs and grows muscle tissue after workouts, and also helps gradualize metabolism throughout the day. Many athletes get their protein from shakes, meat, eggs, and beans. Mayo Clinic, a leading health care company, lists yogurt and soy as vital sources of protein.
Moving on from proteins, carbohydrates are necessary in an athlete’s diet because they fuel the brain as well as the muscles. Think of carbohydrates like a shot of adrenaline. Carbs help fuel the body for a short period of time, but the protein helps long-term. This is why it is recommended to have both carbohydrates and proteins in meals. Healthy carb choices, according to Mayo Clinic, include brown rice and quinoa, two grainy foods. This is where you might benefit from replacing that Chipotle white rice with the healthier — and equally delicious — brown rice.
On game day, there are certain foods that we see top athletes eating. Bananas are an essential food to eat during breaks and before matches for a few reasons. Firstly, the sugar from the banana helps boost energy levels, as all carbohydrates do. The other important part of a banana is the potassium, which helps prevent muscle cramps mid-performance. Many tennis players are seen eating bananas during breaks; one example is Daniil Medvedev, current ATP world number three.
Ultimately, the best foods to eat during a match have a key role in boosting energy levels, as sugar does, though sugar only maintains one’s energy for so long. Many athletes also eat granola bars, which specialize in longer term maintenance of high energy levels.
Overall, there are many foods that top athletes can and should eat, from the carbohydrates in bananas to the protein in eggs. With so many options, it is important to note which foods best suit your personal needs to perform at the best of your abilities.