| By Irina Belfer-Lehat

Following proper nutrition preparation will guarantee an improved tennis match. Packing your lunch box with proper snacks and fluids will help you to avoid fatigue and cramps and will prepare you for any early, late or multiple matches. Here are some easy tips on what super snacks and drinks to have in your lunch box when playing in a tournament.

►Freeze some water and Gatorade the night before and pack it with your snacks and drinks. It will help to keep your refreshments cool and fresh. Coconut water is loaded with potassium and is an excellent source of electrolytes.

►The myth about Vitamin Water and Smart Water … they have empowering flavor names like “Endurance,” “Energy,” “Essential” and “Focus.” Vitamin Water gives the illusion of a healthy, hydrating and rejuvenating miracle elixir. The bottles are beautiful, colorful, and the text on them is snappy and clever. However, they do not provide proper electrolytes and often are full of sugar that can lead to further dehydration. Low-calorie Gatorades, such as G2, do not provide proper hydration either. Regular water, Gatorade and coconut water are the best sources of hydration.

►Fiber is a super nutrient that keeps you full for a long time. Look for snack bars that have more than five grams of fiber in them. Dry fruits such as dates and apricots are an excellent source of fiber, they will provide you with energy between sets.

►Fruits are super snacks. Not only do fruits provide all kinds of vitamins and minerals, but the potassium in fruit helps to prevent muscle cramping. Bananas and oranges are the best sources of potassium and are the easiest to have on the run. Here is a tip … peel your orange in advance to avoid a mess on the court.

Another perfect super snack after your match is a fruit smoothie with coconut water and two tablespoons of almond butter and a teaspoon of chia seeds! This super drink will quickly reload you and help you to properly recover for your next match!

Always consult a registered dietitian if you are on a special diet.

Irina Belfer-Lehat

Irina Belfer-Lehat of Nutrition Solutions Co. is a New York State-licensed dietitian and certified dietitian-nutritionist. Irina Lehat RD Nutrition Solutions offers group classes starting in September, for kids in kindergarten through high school. Small groups, affordable prices! Mention this article and receive 20 percent off any services. For more information, call (917) 769-8031, e-mail irinalehat@gmail.com or visit www.irinalehat.com.