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Tennis Nutrition: What to Eat Before, During, and After Your Game

Tennis is a demanding sport that combines bursts of high-intensity activity with endurance. To perform at your best, your body needs the right fuel at the right times. Here’s how to optimize your nutrition for peak performance and faster recovery.

Before the Game: Priming Your Engine

The pre-game meal is all about establishing a base of energy that will last throughout the match. Aim to eat a balanced meal 2-3 hours before you play. Carbohydrates are your main energy source, so include complex carbs like brown rice, whole grain pasta, or sweet potatoes. Pair them with lean protein such as chicken breast or tofu to help reduce muscle breakdown. Adding a little healthy fat, like avocado or nuts, can provide sustained energy. Remember to stay hydrated, gradually drinking water leading up to the match.

Sample Pre-Game Meal:

  • Grilled chicken breast

  • Quinoa or brown rice

  • Steamed vegetables

  • A small serving of avocado

  • Water or an electrolyte drink

During the Game: Sustaining Your Momentum

Hydration is crucial as tennis can lead to significant fluid loss. Drink small sips of water or an electrolyte-replacement beverage every changeover. If playing for longer than an hour, incorporate easily digestible carbs to maintain energy levels. This could be a banana, a few dates, or a small sports bar.

After the Game: Recovery and Replenishment

Post-match nutrition is crucial to replenish energy stores and repair muscles. Within 30 minutes of completing your match, consume a mix of carbs and protein. This can be a protein shake with a piece of fruit or a yogurt with granola. Follow up with a well-rounded meal within the next two hours. Ensure it includes protein to aid in muscle repair, carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores, and antioxidants from fruits or vegetables to help reduce inflammation.

Sample Post-Game Meal:

  • Salmon or lentil patty

  • Whole-grain bread or a serving of brown rice

  • Mixed greens salad with colorful vegetables

  • Berries or a piece of citrus fruit for dessert

  • Plenty of water or herbal tea for rehydration

Key Takeaways:

  • Timing is essential: Your body needs time to digest and convert food into energy.

  • Balance is key: Include carbs, protein, and fats in your meals to cover all nutritional needs.

  • Hydration is a must: Always replenish fluids lost during play, especially in hot and humid conditions.

  • Recovery starts with nutrition: Post-game meals are as important as pre-game meals for long-term performance and health.

Implementing these nutritional strategies will help you step onto the court with your energy tanks full and recover quicker post-match, keeping you at the top of your game match after match.

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