Nutrition in Tennis

Nutrition Essentials

One’s diet has impacts on one’s health and performance. It also affects how energetic one feels, one’s stamina and one’s strength. Without any doubt, it is the biggest factor when it comes to body weight and composition, both of which are vital for peak performance. What, how much, and when one eats can make a vital difference to one’s ability to recover after an exercise as well as one’s performance in a competition. In other words, whether you’re exercising for fitness or training for competitions, eating a healthy diet and maintaining proper hydration will help improve your performance, keep you healthy and promote fast recovery after a great workout.

What should be eaten?

There is no “right” diet which is suitable for everyone but a good place to start when is comes to designing one’s daily diet are the guidelines developed by knowledgeable others such as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). However, one’s exact calorie expenditure are dependent on individual metabolism, training programme and other factors such as the temperature and humidity of one’s environment.

Where do Energy (calories) come from?

One gets energy from four components in food and drinks:

  1. Carbohydrates – 4 kcal (17kj)/ gram
  2. Fats – 9 kcal (38 kj)/ gram
  3. Proteins – 4 kcal(17 kj)/gram
  4. Alcohol –  7 kcal (29 kj)/ gram.


The 2010 Dietary Guidelines caution that most sources of alcohol do not provide essential nutrients. Alcoholic beverages are the fifth highest calorie source for the average American adult. Some alcoholic beverages may come with health benefits, though. Red wine, for example, can raise levels of healthy HDL cholesterol, according to an article published in the “Polish Heart Journal” in 2013. Men should have no more than two alcoholic drinks per day, and women should limit consumption to one drink per day.

The abovementioned fuels are broken down in your body and transformed via various biochemical pathways into a compound called Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). Energy is produced when one of the phosphate molecules splits off, leaving Adenosine Diphosphate (ADP) and it is this energy that fuels one’s muscles.

How many calories is needed?

One can gauge  daily calorie needs by working out one’s basal metabolic rate (BMR) and multiplying it with one’s physical activity level. Your BMR is the number of calories you burn at rest over 24 hours while maintaining essential functions such as respiration, digestion and brain function. BMR accounts for 60-75 percent of the calories you burn daily.

Step 1 : Estimate your basal metabolic rate (BMR) :

(A) Quick method :

As a rule of thumb, BMR uses 11 calories for every 0.5 kg of a woman’s body weight, and 12 calories for every 0.5 kg of a man’s body weight..

  • Women: BMR = weight in kg x 2 x 11(alternatively weight in pounds x 11)
  • Men: BMR = weights in kg x 2 x 12(alternatively weight in pounds x 12)
  • Example: BMR for a 60 kg woman = 60 x 2 x 11 = 1,320 kcal

(B)   Long method:

For a more accurate estimation of your BMR,use the following equations or an calculator:


Age Men Women
10 -18 years (weight in kg x 17.5) + 651 (weight in kg x 12.2) + 746
18 - 30 years (weight in kg x 15.3) + 679 (weight in kg x 14.7) + 479
31 - 60 years (weight in kg x 11.6) + 879 (weight in kg x 8.7) + 892
60+ years (weight in kg x 13.5) + 487 (weight in kg x 10.5) + 596

Example :BMR foe a 60 kg woman aged 31-60 years=(60 x 8.7)+ 829=1351 kcal

Step 2: Estimate youre physical activity level(PAL):

One’s physical activity level (PAL) is the ratio of one’s overall daily energy expenditure to one’s BMR. It’s an estimation of your lifestyle activity:

  • Mostly inactive or sedentary(mainly sitting) = 1.2
  • Fairly active(include walking and exercise 1-2 per week)= 1.3
  • Moderately active(exercise 2-3 per week)= 1.4
  • Active(exercise hard more than 3 times per week)= 1.5
  • Very active (exercise hard daily)= 1.7

Step 3: Multiply your BMR by your PAL to work out your daily needs (BMR x PAL)

Example: Daily energy needs for an active 60 kg woman= 1351 x 1.5=2,027 kcal

That’s roughly how many calories one burns a day to maintain one’s weight. This is under the assumption that one has an ”average” body composition. If one has higher than average muscle, then add 150 calories of mass

In order to lose weight, one should reduce one’s daily calorie intake by 15 percent or multiply the figure above (maintenance  calorie needs) by 0.85. This will produce a fat loss of about 0.5 kg per week.

Example: Daily energy needs for an active 60 kg woman to loose weight=2027 x 0.85=1723 kcal

In order to gain weight, one should increase one’s daily calorie intake by 20 percent or multiply the figure above (maintenance calorie needs) by 1.2. Together with a resistance training programme, expect a weight gain of 0.25-0.5 kg per month.

Example: Daily energy needs for an active 60 kg woman to gain weight=2027 x 1.2=2432 kcal

Fuel rules for the game of Tennis

A healthy daily diet helps one’s  body adapt to the tennis training one goes through. It also ensures that one is well fueled for training and will recovery quickly. In a nutshell, one needs carbohydrates to fuel working muscles, protein to promote tennis training adaptations and high-quality fats necessary for health.

There is no umbrella recommendations for carbohydrates intake as type, intensity and duration of training vary greatly between different sports but as an estimation, if one is training hard in tennis for 1-2 hrs daily one will need 5-7 g/kg of body weight carbohydrates daily and that is 350 -490 g for a 70 kg person. If one’s training less , then a slightly lower carbohydrates intake is recommended(3-5 g/kg). There no need to consume anything other than water for resistance-based sessions and/or lower-intensity field sessions. However, for hard field-based sessions lasting more than 1 hour,consuming extra carbohydrates in the form of tennis sports drinks ,bananas or gels will help maintain training intensity.

The timing of food intake is important right after post training. Consuming 20-25 g of proteins post-resistance training will speed muscle repair and recovery. After tough game-conditioning field-based sessions, combining this protein with 70-100 g of carbohydrates will also support a fast recovery process and help facilitate improvements in the game of tennis and your fitness. Whether the proteins and carbohydrates are consumed as a drink (milk or recovery drink) or food, it is up to one’s preference.

Post training meals suggestions:

  • pasta with tomato pasta sauce,cheese and vegetables
  • jacket potato with tuna,sweetcorn and salad
  • turkey and vegetables kebabs with pitta bread
  • baked or grilled salmon,rice and salad
  • porridge with raisins and honey
  • cereal with milk and bananas
  • toast with jam and a milky drink
  • pancakes with fruits
  • pasta with chicken and salad
  • rice with beans or grilled fish and vegetables
  • spaghetti bolognese with vegetables

During the game of tennis training:

During training that lasts about 1 hour, one will need fueling and hydration of one’s body with quick drinks during the break. One is recommended to take water, squash, cordials, a sports drink, an energy gel or whatever one uses for as carbohydrates source. One should aim for at least 30 g of carbohydrates/hour

After the game of tennis training:

The training may be over but one’s recovery strategy starts then. This is important if one wants to train or have enough energy to move about in the next few days. One should start drinking as soon as possible after the training, before the shower. It is important that one begins to replace the fluid that one has lost. One should try to drink around 500 ml of a sports drinks or diluted juice in the first 30 minutes after the training, little and and often then keep gulping every 5 or 10 minutes until one is passing clear urine.

The training would have depleted glycogen stores in one’s leg muscles, so one’s mission is to restock those stores immediately. Eat a high-carbohydrates snack(1 g of carbohydrates/1 kg of body weight) within the first 30-60 min after the training. This can be solid food or a drink-whatever feels right, including a little protein with the carbohydrate(approx 1 part proteins to 3 parts of carbohydrates ) will speed glycogen recovery.

Core Menu Plan for 1 hour of training

Before 1 hour Training

Breakfast :

  • Water
  • 2 x toast with honey
  • 125 g whole-milk yoghurt
  • 250 milk based drink

Snack :

  • 25 g of nuts
  • 100 g fresh fruits
  • Water

Lunch :

  • Water
  • Protein – 100 g chicken meat,fish, or 2 eggs or 50 g cheese,vegetables or salad
  • Carbohydrates – 3 slices of bread or 75 g wholegrain pasta or rice or 300 g of potatoes
  • Fats –  15 g olive/coconut oil or butter
  • 100 g fresh fruit
  •  125 g whole-milk yoghurt

Snack :

  • 2 x bananas
  • Water

During Training(1 hour) :      

  • Water or 100 ml cordial or squash (diluted 1 to 8)

Snack :

  • 600 ml milk/flavoured milk/milkshake
  • 50 g flapjack

After 1 hour Training

Dinner :

  • Water
  • Proteins  – 100 g of chicken,beef,fish or 2 eggs or 50 g cheese
  • Vegetables or salad
  • Carbohydrates  – 75-100 g (uncooked weight) wholegrain pasta or rice or 300 g of potatos
  • Fats – 15 g olive/coconut oi or butter
  • 100 g fresh fruits and 125 g whole-milk yoghurt

Nutritional Analysis:

  • 2853 calories
  • 139 g proteins(20 percent calories)
  • 105 g of fats (33 percent calories)
  • 362 g carbohydrates (48 percent calories)