If you've just gotten off the court after a morning of playing tennis, you might be temped to stop at the nearest fast food restaurant and order a feast, figuring you've earned it by burning 1,000 calories. But that's a pretty unhealthy habit to get into. Teenage tennis players need a diet rich in nutrients for growth, development, and energy.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers dietary guidelines for young athletes (with the caveat that if you have special needs, you should consult a registered dietician). It's centered around power foods, specifically those loaded with nutrients and containing small amounts of saturated fat and sugar. This includes whole grains, dairy foods, fruits and vegetables.
Teenage tennis players should start each day with a healthy breakfast, such as a low-fat yogurt parfait with fruit and whole grain cereal. For pre- and post-match snacking, to replace calories with the proper carbohydrates, protein and good fats, try cheese and crackers, peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat or trail mix.
It's also extremely important to stay well hydrated to avoid cramping and overheating. Young people should drink a minimum of eight cups of water a day—and a tennis player needs to add another eight ounces for each half hour of competitive play.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) offers specifics on the amount of protein, vitamins and carbohydrates teenage tennis players should have in their diets. For more tips, check out the Daily Meal Plan for Teenage Athletes.
Lern more about building a healthy tennis diet.
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