Nutrition is the least popular topic for us all, I know… but it’s one of the most important, or I wouldn’t continue writing about it. Without the proper foods, tennis players, and well… EVERYONE (including teachers, bookkeepers, doctors, dentists, AND athletes like us tennis players) will not be able to function at their optimum level. It just isn’t humanly possible.
That being said, let’s talk about carbs. Carbohydrates yield the quickest energy production in the body, energy that is essential to a tennis player’s performance and recovery; however, choosing the best food sources that help promote our overall health and well-being and to keep us feeling good enough to really enjoy our sport can be a real challenge.
So, let’s take a look at five of the best carb-filled foods in their natural state and analyze why they are a good source of fuel for both on-court performance and recovery:
The bright orange color of these root vegetables is a visual cue that they are an abundant source of the high-powered antioxidant, vitamin A. They also are a great source of potassium to help soothe sore muscles and maintain the right amount of fluids in the body. One cup provides 27g of carbs, 4g of which are fiber.
This breakfast staple has been promoted as a “heart-healthy” food due to its high soluble fiber and low saturated fat content, both of which have been shown to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and total cholesterol levels. Besides keeping your ticker kicking, the magnesium found in oats helps to maintain nerve and muscle function and is involved in over 300 metabolic reactions in the body. One 1/2 cup of dry oats provides 27g of carbs.
Going a little wild on your rice gives you an edge over the commonly hyped brown rice. Wild rice has the added bang for your calorie buck by providing 6g of protein and doubles the amount of fiber (3g) for 35 fewer calories than brown rice per 1 cup serving.
This yummy yellow fruit is widely recognized as an excellent source of potassium. While this is true, bananas are also a valuable source of vitamin C which supports your immune system. They also contain prebiotics which help maintain the healthy bacteria in your gut. Prebiotics also help improve the absorption of other nutrients (i.e. calcium) for added bone health benefits.
The legume that is used to make hummus is often forgotten as a quality source of carbohydrates. Chickpeas not only provide a generous 22g of carbs in one ½ cup, but also a whopping 6g of fiber and 7g of protein. Fiber helps to keep you feeling full, maintains steady blood sugar levels, and may reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Complex carbohydrates found in fresh veggies, fruits and grains are invaluable to us tennis players, as they provide mega doses of natural antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins to the body in order to support the physical stress we put our bodies through. So make sure you get enough so you can feel and play your best!