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?

 

Advertisements

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.

1620697_488567244580917_1829988691_n

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
 

✓✓

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

✓✓✓

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

fullsizerender-18