Eat Food When You Can, Supplement When You Must

When it comes to food and nutrition, there is no right or wrong. You have eaten thousands of meals whilst living on this planet, and you’re still here right?! The same goes with sports nutrition, you have survived this long so why should you listen to me?!

I’m not a sports nutritionist that is going to overhaul your diet, tell you exactly what to eat and when to eat it. I am here to help you understand what you currently eat, whether your tennis performance is optimal with that diet, and if not, how we can tweak your diet so that it fits in line with the current scientific research for tennis players.

A8AB3C3C-4353-48E8-A4BD-6B681043DA7BToday let’s talk about supplements. Supplements are called supplements, because they are a SUPPLEMENT to your diet. Most of you will be able to get all the nutrition you need to fuel your body and tennis performance through a good diet, good hydration and enough sleep.

With that being said, there are certain circumstances when supplements may be useful, and I will list them below and the reasons why (if there are any supplements not on this list, it would be wise to consider whether you’re wasting your money) …

Multivitamins – A multivitamin will not necessarily directly enhance tennis performance, but vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients for overall health, growth repair and vitality. If you are partaking in a heavy training schedule, or simply lack fruit and vegetables in your diet, supplementing with a mutlivitamin is advised.

Protein powder – Protein is essential for growth and repair of muscles, which is essential for optimal tennis performance. For tennis players who require relatively high protein intakes and travel a lot, or struggle to eat enough protein, supplementing with a protein powder would be beneficial.

Sports Drinks – Staying optimally hydrated with a good balance of electrolytes (salts) is essential for health, tennis performance and recovery. If a tennis player doesn’t enjoy the taste of water during or after exercise, this is when a sports drink would be useful to ensure optimal performance and recovery.

Caffeine – Caffeine essentially blocks receptors in the brain telling you you’re tired. Caffeine will allow you to perform at a higher intensity for a longer period of time, therefore maximising performance (as long as it is consumed in the right amount at the right time, personal to you).

There are a few other supplements that have been well researched to have beneficial effects on sports performance, but for the purpose of this blog (unless you are an elite athlete), these are the only supplements you will need for overall health and tennis performance. If you have any questions, or more importantly are taking any other supplements not on this list, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Yours in Health,

Steph

Former Totally Tennis performance player and now coach Steph Catlin has founded Food Is Life, a sports nutrition consultancy business based in Basingstoke. If you would like to learn more about how to achieve your personal nutrition goals and for specific personal advice please contact Steph directly via foodislifeuk@gmail.com via her website www.foodislifeuk.com or visit her social media channels FacebookTwitter and Instagram

Read more nutrition advice in previous posts  Is Nutrition The Missing Puzzle Piece to Your Ultimate Tennis Performance?Do You Suffer With Performance Dips During a Tennis MatchProtein Isn’t Just For Body Builders and Competition Nutrition – What, When and How Much?

 

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Competition Nutrition – What, When and How Much?

One of the most popular questions asked during Wimbledon, What is in that drink the players are drinking?”

Answer: It is a precise formula made up predominately of carbohydrates and electrolytes (salt and minerals).

The next question is usually, Why are they drinking that?”

Answer: When you play tennis for longer than 60 minutes, you begin to deplete carbohydrate and electrolyte stores. If you fail to keep those stores topped up, you will get tired quicker; your concentration levels will lower, and your reaction time on court will get slower.

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It’s essential to maintain the same intensity and focus on court for the duration of the match if you want to win it…

Professional players keep their carbohydrate and electrolyte stores topped up via a drink formula because it’s the easiest way to maintain intensity and performance. Sometimes, they will consume food in the form of a banana or an energy bar, but here’s why consuming liquid nutrition on court is the best option:

  1. It’s physically more practical than eating a big meal
  2. It will digest faster, therefore the nutrients can be utilised by the body quicker.    
  3. Consuming food can sit heavily in the gut and therefore slow you down on court as a consequence.

So now you know you MUST consume both carbohydrates and electrolytes during tennis matches that last longer than 60 minutes, what’s the best practical strategy to do this?

1) Here is how to top up electrolytes:

 

Consuming water with added salt
 

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Coconut water is a good alternative to plain water as it naturally contains electrolytes with some additional flavouring.
 

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The ideal way is to consume sports drinks. Sports drinks contain a very specific solution to comprise the correct water to electrolyte ratio, with the added benefit of a pleasant flavour. Three companies I recommend are: Gatorade, Powerade and Lucozade Sport.
Squash or cordials are not recommended, as the electrolyte levels are too low.

2) Here are good sources of carbohydrates to keep your stores topped up:

  • Sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade, Lucozade)
  • Sports gels (SIS, High 5, MyProtein)
  • Fruit
  • Fruit smoothie
  • Energy bars (Cliff bar, SIS energy bars, cereal bars)
  • Jam sandwich

My recommendation: consuming a sports drink is OPTIMAL because it contains both carbohydrates AND electrolytes in ONE drink.

I would recommend consuming primarily liquid nutrition on court for ease. With that being said, it’s personal preference therefore if you would prefer to consume food instead, that is perfectly adequate.  

Real world application: It’s best to consume your on court nutrition in small amounts regularly, rather than all in one sitting. This reduces the stress on the digestive system.

Individual recommendations will be different depending on the context and person, but previous blogs outline average quantities of carbohydrates and electrolyte (hydration) strategies needed to maintain optimal tennis performance.  

Side note: It’s best to try your on court nutrition strategy in training first because you don’t know how your body will react to particular foods during intense exercise, and you don’t want to be caught short during a competitive match.

Yours in Health,

Steph

Former Totally Tennis performance player Steph Catlin has founded Food Is Life, a sports nutrition consultancy business based in Basingstoke. If you would like to learn more about how to achieve your personal nutrition goals and for specific personal advice please contact Steph directly via foodislifeuk@gmail.com via her website www.foodislifeuk.com or visit her social media channels FacebookTwitter and Instagram

Read more nutrition advice in previous posts  Is Nutrition The Missing Puzzle Piece to Your Ultimate Tennis Performance?Do You Suffer With Performance Dips During a Tennis Match and Protein Isn’t Just For Body Builders

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Nutrition Seminars

Totally Tennis alumni Steph Catlin who has founded Food Is Life, a sports nutrition consultancy business based in Basingstoke, is offering everyone the chance to attend one of her FREE nutrition seminars that will be held at the club next week.

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Friday 24th March – Performance players and their parents are invited to attend a 30 minute nutrition talk in the pavilion starting at 7:30pm

Thursday 30th March – Steph will be running her nutrition for weight loss talk which is open to anyone from 7:00pm. This will be followed by a FREE 30 minute mini tennis session which is all open to all.

IMG_2011.jpgFormer Totally Tennis performance player, who represented both Brighton Hill Community College and Queen’s Mary College, Steph obtained a four year Division 1 tennis scholarship to the University of Northern Colorado in the USA. After graduating with two Bachelors degrees, one in Sport and Exercise Science and the other in Human Communication Studies she returned to the UK and recently completed her Masters degree in Sport and Exercise Nutrition. She now runs Food Is Life and provides the nutrition tips and advice for this blog.

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Please contact Steph for any further information as follows:

Website: www.foodislifeuk.com

FacebookTwitter and Instagram

 

Protein Isn’t Just For Body Builders

One of the biggest concerns for athletes is to make sure that they recover effectivelyIf players are constantly sore and tired their ability to train or compete at the intensity and level that they need to on the tennis court will be reduced.

In a previous posts I talked about the importance of carbohydrates as well as the importance of hydration and in this post I’m focusing on protein!

As an athlete, you have an increased need for protein in your diet. When you play tennis, or do any form of exercise, you break down muscle tissue. The body uses protein to break down muscle tissue, which leaves it in a negative protein balance (a catabolic state) after exercise. To keep your on-court intensity high and recovery on point, it’s essential to repair the damaged muscle and to do this, your body needs to be in a positive protein balance (an anabolic state).

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Without a positive protein balance within the body, your body doesn’t have the right type or amount of fuel to repair the damaged muscles… Now we know a positive protein balance is fundamental, how do we achieve it? By eating lots of protein!  

A source of protein needs to be eaten at every single meal. Consistent, regular feedings of protein have been proven to be essential for overall tennis performance and optimal recovery. Good sources of protein include: meat, fish, dairy products, eggs and protein shakes.

Regular protein feedings are essential for other reasons too, for example it helps to keep you fuller for longer, which is very important from a body composition perspective. The harder you train and compete, the more important role your nutrition will play into your tennis performance.

Don’t ever leave your success to chance!

Yours In Health,

Steph

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For more information check out www.foodislifeuk.com or for any questions/personal advice contact Steph by e-mail on foodislifeuk@gmail.com

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How Does the Cold Weather Affect Tennis Performance?

Jon Snow did warn us… winter is here! Being British we have no other expectations for the winter apart from rain and freezing temperatures which means that the majority of us have to brave the zero degree climate during the winter tennis season. But how does playing in freezing conditions affect for our tennis performance?

Let’s talk dehydration….

A 2% fluid deficit has been shown to affect tennis performance by a visible amount, specifically reducing skill and decision making abilities on court.

Although some dehydration is inevitable, it’s important to keep the fluid deficit to a minimum before, during and after tennis practise or a match to avoid any performance drops.

What does this have to do with the cold weather?

In the cold we tend to wrap up warm, which can mean our sweat rate is higher than normal underneath all the layers.

The cold climate blunts our thirst mechanism – when we play tennis our body temperature rises. For the body to stay in a balanced state it needs to cool itself down, and it does this by releasing sweat. The sweat will be a mixture of water and electrolytes (salt). The fluid lost needs to be replaced during exercise to maintain fluid balance and avoid dehydration. With the combination of the cold weather and a blunted thirst mechanism, it’s easy to forget to take on board fluids and therefore become mildly dehydrated.

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So remember when playing tennis in cold temperatures it’s important to monitor your fluid balance, to avoid dehydration you need to replace your fluid losses via sweat by 150%.

There are various techniques that can be used to measure your sweat losses. On average, a tennis player will lose between 1-2.5 litres of sweat per hour. It is recommended that the replacement of fluids is achieved through a mixture of water and electrolytes which can be consumed via sports drinks, coconut water or a mixture of water and salty foods, depending on personal preference.

Don’t let mild dehydration be the deciding factor. Control the controllable!

Yours in Health,

Steph

Former Totally Tennis performance player Steph Catlin has founded Food Is Life, a sports nutrition consultancy business based in Basingstoke. If you would like to learn more about how to achieve your personal nutrition goals and for specific personal advice please contact Steph directly via foodislifeuk@gmail.com via her website www.foodislifeuk.com or visit her social media channels FacebookTwitter and Instagram

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Read more of Steph’s nutrition advice in previous post Is Nutrition The Missing Puzzle Piece to Your Ultimate Tennis Performance 

 

 

 

Is Nutrition The Missing Puzzle Piece to Your Ultimate Tennis Performance?

The key is not the will to win. Everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.Bobby Knight

Totally Tennis Alumni Steph Catlin has founded Food Is Life, a sports nutrition consultancy business based in Basingstoke.  Former Totally Tennis performance player, who represented both Brighton Hill Community College and Queen’s Mary College, Steph obtained a four year Division 1 tennis scholarship to the University of Northern Colorado in the USA. After graduating with two Bachelors degrees, one in Sport and Exercise Science and the other in Human Communication Studies she returned to the UK and recently completed her Masters degree in Sport and Exercise Nutrition.

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Whilst playing at a high level Steph was continuously striving to improve her tennis performance and spent countless essential hours on court during her time at University, it was then that she realised the power of nutrition in advancing both the physical and mental aspect of her game. She learnt that incorporating sports nutrition techniques in and around training and matches was just as important as practising her serve day in, day out.

There are many tennis coaches you can turn to for on court tactics and techniques, but to be the most successful tennis player you can be, you need more than a 120mph serve. Steph will providing Totally Tennis players with advice and easy-to-follow tips in a series of tennis and nutrition based blog posts.

Steph said, “As a former high performance tennis player there’s one thing I would have done differently: Open my mind to more knowledge and learn from the experience of the people I look up to.” she continued, With that being said, let me help you with that! As a fully qualified sports nutritionist, over the next coming months I will be providing you with my finest knowledge on all things tennis and nutrition.”

So whether you are a social player hungry for more or someone inspiring to one-day play at Wimbledon, these nutrition tips and tricks will help to get you there!

Stay tuned on the Totally Tennis blog and let’s strive for greatness together!

Yours in Health,

Steph

In the meantime you can contact Steph for any further information as follows: 

Website: www.foodislifeuk.com

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Read more about Steph’s previous achievements in previous posts Totally Tennis Alumni Stephanie Catlin  and Catlin Competes in BUCS League