Sweating it out on the court day after day is a great way to become a better tennis player, but don’t forget that one of the most essential components of your training happens off the court. Proper nutrition is often the missing link needed to help maximize your training and reach performance goals. Fuel up on these six super foods and gear up for a great season!
These tiny seeds pack a ton of antioxidants (think vitamins A, C and E as well as phenolic compounds), and are a good source of protein (5g) and fiber (10g) per 1oz serving. Chia sees are also an excellent vegetarian source of immune-boosting omega-3 fatty acids, which play an important anti-inflammatory role in the body, and are rich in important athlete-friendly minerals like bone-building calcium and iron. The best thing about Chia is their versatility! Try blending them into smoothies, adding to desserts , tossing into salads, stir-frys, or sautéed veggies, or have as a breakfast topping to Greek yogurt or oatmeal.
Nuts and nut butters contain recovery-enhancing magnesium and potassium, which can help regulate blood pressure and maintain fluid-electrolyte balance, and pack a good dose of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E. The winning combination of fiber and protein can help fuel your training sessions and keep you fuller, longer. Enjoy with whole wheat toast, fruit or even blended up in a smoothie!
Full of minerals, B-vitamins, and fiber, berries are immune and energy-boosting powerhouses. They’re also packed with the antioxidant anthocyanin, which can help repair oxidative damage to muscles after matches and workouts. Berries (fresh or frozen!) are delicious as a topping for salads, desserts, whole grain cereals or waffles, or blended into smoothies.
Leafy Greens (Kale, Spinach, Chard)
You name it, these veggies have it! They are often touted as cancer-fighters for their antioxidant profiles (rich in beta-carotene, vitamin A precursor) and vitamin C as well as phenolic compounds that protect our DNA. Leafy greens are an excellent source of iron, which aids in the transport of oxygen to your red blood cells and helps to maintain consistent energy levels and optimize athletic performance. Try them raw in a big salad, steamed or sautéed with garlic and olive oil.
Sweet Potatoes, Citrus Fruits and Cantaloupe
Not only are these foods rich in fiber and antioxidants, but citrus fruits have the highest content of folate, an important energy-enhancing B vitamin that helps maintain healthy blood circulation. Try making healthy sweet potato “fries” by slicing and baking in the oven with a little olive oil, and enjoy citrus fruits on their own or thrown into veggie or fruit salads.
Coffee packs a two-for-one nutritional punch when it comes sports performance – first, its antioxidant content is much higher than most traditional foods! The caffeine in coffee also stimulates the central nervous system and may enhance endurance while out on the court. Try to stick with the recommended daily allowance of about 300-400mg/day (about ~3 8oz cups of coffee) and avoid over-doing it.
Kelly Hogan, MS, RD, CDN is a clinical dietitian at The Mount Sinai Hospital.
Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN is a senior clinical dietitian at The Mount Sinai Hospital.
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