| By Irina Belfer-Lehat

Tennis is a high intensity sport that requires short bursts of activity. Most points in tennis last fewer than 10 seconds, but there are only 25 seconds of rest between points and 90 seconds between games. A strong endurance base is necessary for competitive tennis. Analyses of tennis matches show that the sport requires about 300 to 500 bursts of energy over the course of a match. Quickness and agility are the hallmarks of a good tennis player.

What should tennis players eat before and after a workout?
When possible, eat three to four hours before a hard practice or competition. Aim for a low-fat meal with about 200 to 300 grams of carbohydrates and 30 grams of lean protein. This will ensure that you have enough fuel on board, but will leave time for your stomach to empty before you play. A turkey sub sandwich with baked chips and a side of fruit, or a grilled chicken wrap on a flour tortilla with pretzels and fruit juice or low-fat milk, are fine examples of meals that will meet the energy demands of a long practice or match.

Going gluten-free
Some high-profile professional tennis players have adopted a gluten-free diet. Will switching to a gluten-free diet improve my performance?

A gluten-free diet is necessary for those athletes who have an intolerance to gluten (a protein found in wheat and some other grains). However, there is no evidence that adopting a gluten-free diet improves your ability to play tennis. One potential risk of following a gluten-free diet is lack of carbohydrates, because gluten-containing foods are a staple of most athletes’ diets. There is no reason to avoid gluten if you do not have a medical condition that requires a change in diet.

The best resource to personalize your diet is a registered dietitian nutritionist, especially one who specializes in sports nutrition.

Call or e-mail today to schedule an appointment with Irina Belfer-Lehat, RD, CDN at (917) 769 8031, e-mail irina@irinalehat.com or visit www.irinalehat.com.

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.