Now that you are a high level athlete, it is time to put some focus on the fuel you are putting into your body. If I have noticed anything over the years, it is that everyone is different on what works fuel-wise. Considerations are the climate you are in, how strenuous the matches are and how many matches you are having that day.
One kid’s bagel is another kid’s kiss of death. A bagel (in its bready density) is the equivalent of 11 pieces of white bread -- which is very high on the glycemic index (times 11!). For many, the blood sugar crash that results (about 2 hours later) can have an extremely negative effect physically and mentally during a match.
As you embark on your tennis career, it would be wise to keep a notebook of what you have eaten, the timing and when and how you felt during your match. Our family has some foods and meals that always seem to result in positive match result s (win or lose). Others, i.e. the aforementioned bagel are banned from our pre-match food repertoire during tournament weekends.
Consider your new high-level athlete body an engine. I like imagining an old style locomotive steam engine.
Imagine you are the person shoveling in the coal (fuel) to keep the furnace going. Coal burns slow and steady – a nugget of slow-burning energy.
You want a steady fire rolling throughout your tournament weekend.
Steady fire? – look up ‘list of complex carbohydrates’
. These are the desired slow-burning nuggets of energy.
While you play, you may need to trickle in some extra ‘fast fuel’ to replace the extra energy (fire) you are expending. A banana trickle, electrolyte/glucose drinks, gels, fruit, etc. Experiment. I imagine the fast fuel as throwing a wad of paper into the engine. It will burn up fast, but this flash fire keeps going if you keep throwing the paper in.
After you play, you may be standing around talking with your friends about the match, but your engine is still pumped up and burning full force. It is very important to be putting in some carbohydrates (paper and coal) right after the match. Half a bagel (whole wheat or pumpernickel) with a fat like butter, peanut butter or cream cheese is good right now. Whole milk chocolate milk or a recovery drink that has just a bit of protein could be good too. Your body is torching any remaining carbohydrates post match as you stand there chewing/drinking and talking so you need to be replenishing. Then hop in the car with your parents and get a decent balanced meal with COMPLEX carbohydrates to prepare for your next match.
Look up ‘list of bad carbohydrates’ to get a feel for the food to stay away from during a tournament weekend.
Again, everyone is different and can handle different things in fueling their athlete body. This is our experience. It is up to you to figure out what works best for your ‘engine’. Have fun and good luck!