Nutrition Tips for Quicker Recovery

Does it matter what you eat and drink after a match? You bet! The right hydration and nutrition can help keep your body healthy and thriving, especially when you have played hard. These strategies can help you re-cover from daily play. And now that ALTA lets you play in multiple leagues in the same week, you will need these tips!

As you are leaving the court, drink two to three cups of hydrating fluids immediately. You can begin by drinking a medium-sized bottle of sports drink as you walk off the court. The most beneficial fluids are slightly salty and moderate in carbohydrates, like sport beverages such as Gatorade or Powerade. They will help to replenish sodium and electrolytes lost through perspiration. Be prepared.

Chill some squeeze bottles or sports drink bottles the night be-fore, and have them with you at practice or matches. Each player should have a minimum of one quart or liter available for after matches. Consume enough flu-ids throughout the day, and as quickly as possible after matches, so your urine is a light or pale yellow color. In the heat, consider checking your weight before and after matches. If you leave the court weighing less than where you started, drink two cups of hydrating liquids per pound of additional body weight lost in sweat on court. Limit caffeinated beverages or avoid them altogether, especially right after match play. This includes iced tea, coffee and colas.

These are not good sources 

of hydration and may cause additional fluid loss as urine because of their diuretic side effects.
E( E Ef A Because the most important goal for recovery is replenishing your energy stores, the most effective recovery meals and snacks are rich in carbohydrates. This in-cludes such foods as breads, pastas, fresh fruit, granola bars, energy bars and sports drinks. Aim for foods that are also high in carbohydrates to supply energy for mus-cle reserves. So, eat a snack high in carbs as soon as possible, preferably within 30 minutes of a match. When choosing what to eat, select familiar foods. Pick ones that you know will re-energize you. Make sure your choice is able to be quickly digested, avoiding foods high in fiber or fat. This will help ensure that nutrients can quickly reach depleted muscles.

Continue to in-clude several cups of hydrating fluids with your meal or snack. Additionally, the latest research shows that is also important to eat protein with-in a 30-minute window after play. Getting easy-to-digest proteins such as chocolate milk or smoothies with whey protein into your system as soon as possible will aid in quicker muscle rebuilding and less muscle tissue breakdown. Quick edible protein sources like cheese or peanut butter and crackers, along with hydrating beverages, can do the trick. Finally, don't forget to add some salt. A few tips for adding sodium to replenish sweat losses are to eat pickles after matches or have meals with tomato sauces

and salty sides like pretzels and healthy chips. And don't be afraid to sprinkle a little salt on your food! Aim to replenish what you have burnt: 1) fluids, 2) carbohydrate energy, 3) lean protein sources, and 4) sodium. Design your recovery meals based on these priorities.

It may be helpful to weigh in before and after matches in the heat to see the amount of body weight lost so you can accurately replenish lost fluids. If you have multiple match play, focus on fluids and easy-to-digest carbo-hydrates (high-carb energy bars, peanut butter sandwiches and smoothies work well) when you have only an hour or two between matches and there is not enough time to eat and digest whole meals. Drink two to three cups of hydrating fluids per hour between matches.

Within two hours after play, eat a high-carbohydrate meal that also contains a lean protein source to maximize muscle glycogen recovery (rebuild energy stores) and to support protein synthesis in mus-cle. This could be in the form of a fruit smoothie with protein. High-fat proteins may weigh you down, so don't necessarily go for that big steak!

Page Love is a registered and licensed dietitian, a certified specialist in sport dietetics, and consultant for both the Sony Erickson and Men's ATP Professional Tennis Tours, and she runs a private practice in Atlanta. She has been a competitive ALTA participant for more than 30 years.


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