Tennis players often ask if loading carbohydrates before a match is something they should do.
Here’s a question posted by one of our subscribers who gave us permission to post it:
“I have a game scheduled for 10:30 am. I usually play in the afternoon or evening and therefore have plenty of time to make sure I am well hydrated and loaded with carbohydrates.
I’m not worried about hydrating, but I’m really not sure when to eat to make sure I’m not weak on the court that morning.
Should I eat a carbohydrate meal like pasta late the night before? I understand that it takes 6 hours for the body to incorporate complex carbohydrates into helpful glycogen, so I don’t want to get up at 4 in the morning just to eat. I am really struggling with the correct approach. Can you help me?”
Here is our answer:
Although many people believe the opposite is true, it is extremely important for everyone to understand that “carbohydrate loading” is not really the answer to continuous energy on the tennis court.
Carbohydrates, particularly starchy carbs, are very important, but you also need some protein and some veggies (which are the colored carbs). The inclusion of protein before a match ensures a faster and more complete recovery from the match (assuming you are feeding properly after the match) and the inclusion of vegetables, raw and / or cooked, is recommended, as they contain nutrients that are necessary for convert the party. starches into energy.
I’ve worked with players who were convinced that pure carb loading was the answer, but were not yet performing at their peak on the court. Imagine your surprise when your energy skyrocketed as a result of reducing your intake of starchy carbohydrates, in addition to including protein and vegetables!
The previous night
All your meals should consist of about a third (or a little less) of lean protein, a third (or a little less) of starch, a third (or a little more) of colorful vegetables, raw and / or cooked.
The night before a game, slightly increase the starch content. Ideally, you would not have just one type of starch, but a variety.
We all know about pasta, bread, rice, and potatoes, but consider one (or any part of) sweet potato, a bean mix, couscous, cooked parsnips, carrots, or any other root vegetable. The greater your variety of starches, the more nutrients they contain. All these nutrients (vitamins and minerals) help in the energy production process and in recovery (in case you need to play several games.
The morning of the game
Get up early enough to have a good breakfast and time to digest it. It is best to test this on a training day and not on game day.
How long does it take for you to digest your food before you feel comfortable enough to run? It’s a good 3 hours for me, but for some of the junior players I work with, they can have a full meal and play right away! Of course, some of this will depend on what you eat.
Fatty foods like mackerel or salmon tend to be a bad idea for breakfast, as they can take longer to digest than less fatty foods. Eggs don’t tend to be that much of a problem, but whatever you decide, remember that breakfast should consist of protein, starchy carbs, and colorful carbs in the form of vegetables or fruits.
Milk and yogurt are not as protein-dense as eggs, shellfish, poultry, or meat, so if you decide to eat porridge with milk and some chopped fruits, you may need to consider including a protein powder as part of their food. Whey protein is my recommendation with nothing added, so pure whey, without sugars or sweeteners or any other additives.
If eating a full meal is not possible due to the time it takes to get up and eat to digest properly, then have a whey protein drink and eat a piece of fruit.
Whichever breakfast you choose, 1/2 hour before the game have any part of a banana or any part of an energy bar (I say anywhere because for some people eating small amounts just follows best).
During the match
When you’re on the court, don’t just hydrate with water at every break, but also carry a bottle of an isotonic drink (or a homemade version), a banana, or something sweet to snack on.
If you don’t start ingesting some type of glucose until you feel tired, it is too late and your game will suffer, so start having some glucose inside you, even in minute amounts, within 1/2 hour of start your party. .
Is it little and often better?
In general, eating smaller amounts more often is much better, you will never feel too full and your body will be constantly energized, so if you can, consider doing this:
The day before your game: Eat 6 smaller meals that still consist of protein, starchy carbs, and colorful carbs. This would mean eating every 3-4 hours (if you work in an office during the day this may mean that you have to carry a series of containers with your food in it. It can be a real hassle, but it works wonders on mental clarity and focus. ). Larger meals tend to make you drowsy, which isn’t really good for tennis.
The day of your match: Get up at 0600. Have half your breakfast at 0630 and the other half at 0830. Half an hour before the game eat a snack as recommended above. However, I’ll say it again ………….. if this is totally new to you, try it first! Don’t do anything new before a match!
Keep a journal
If you are serious about improving performance and want to take that extra step to really individualize your eating plan, write down exactly what you ate, how much and when, and then include how you felt immediately after, 1/2 hour later, 1 hour later and 3 hours later.
So rate your mood, energy, and clarity of mind. No one remembers this information, so write it down. This way you can always look back to see what worked and what didn’t. If it didn’t work, you should be able to find out why by looking at what you ate in the previous hours.
Remember that you are biochemically unique – what works for someone else may not necessarily work for you. Only by keeping track will you be able to make subtle changes to your diet to achieve maximum performance.
So use this information to get started racing in your matches and keep things high!