"Weighs" to Win

With a few nutritional strategies, you can manage your weight in a healthy way and perform at your highest level.

Published December 14, 2009 02:31


Traveling internationally and 'dining out' every day can make maintaining a healthy body composition challenging. It is a constant balancing act to eat a variety of food groups daily and manageportion sizes and hidden fats when you dine in the on-site player cafe, hotels and restaurants. Traveling away from home and at tournamentscan limit your choices and test your regular routines. Don't worry! With a few sound, nutrition strategies you can manage your weight in a healthy way and still enjoy the international lifestyle and most importantly, perform at your highest level of sports.

Healthy Food Facts

No matter whether you need to gain, lose or maintain your weight for peak performance, you must supply your body with all of its nutritional needs to perform optimally for hours. What you eat and drink can be one of your most powerful weapons.

Food Group


Daily Amounts for Elite Athletes


Glycogen stores for Energy

At least 8-11 servings (To increase weight, eat up to 20 servings)
= 3 grams carb. per ½ kg (1 pound) of lean body weight

Fruits & Vegetables

Essential nutrients, minerals, antioxidant vitamins, and dietary fiber.

2+ servings of fruit
5+ servings of vegetables


Healthy functioning, repair and recovery of muscle tissue

2 servings of 4-5 ounces (30-40 grams) of meat protein

Dairy products

Essential calcium & protein

At least 3-4 servings per day (alternative calcium sources are in soy products, small bony fish e.g. salmon & sardines, broccoli)

Fats and oils

Secondary energy source
Fat soluble vitamins

A small amount with each meal: 3-6 teaspoons daily
= 0.5 grams fat per ½ kg (1 pound) lean body weight


Electrolytes, hydration

LOTS! = 3+ liters (12 cups per day MINIMUM. (Increase for hot, humid conditions, heavy training, recent travel / illness.)

Beware of "Quick Fix" Diets

Athletes often make the mistake of seeking a 'quick fix' to get the winning edge.

·Fad diets (ones that don't have a balanced selection of foods) are common traps used as a means to lose, gain or maintain weight.

·Fad diets do not result in long-term weight management.

·Athletes who use fad diets are likely to suffer from fatigue, dehydration and nutrient deficiencies. These effects will decrease your performance and health.

·If you are trying to lose weight and have used fad diets over the years, you may be prone to serious medical problems such as: absence of menstruation, anemia, fatigue, common colds, infections or injuries and slowed metabolism.

Avoid the Fads - There are serious medical and performance (loss) issues with these diets, such as:

·Single food diets (e.g. the Rice diet, Grapefruit Diet etc) lack whole food groups and severely under-recommend protein, and carry great risk of muscle and tendon injuries, illnesses and iron and other nutrient deficiencies.

·Liquid diet supplements may contain herbal stimulants (e.g. Ephedra or Ma Huang) that have serious health implications AND are banned substances in the Tennis Anti-Doping Program. They may contain protein and some sugar, but will not provide enough energy.

·High protein, low carbohydrate diets lead to: decrease energy intake, do not meet all your daily vitamin and mineral needs, decrease muscle energy levels, promote water loss that can lead to dehydration and nutrient deficiencies,increasesaturated fats, speed up calcium loss from bone and stress the kidneys. You will run out of energy and decrease performance!

Think you need to change your weight? Want advice on healthy weight management? See a licensed Sport Dietitian who willassess and advise you on your needs.

Eat to Win!

Don't Skip Meals

·Skipping meals decrease your metabolism and decrease how fast you burn the food you eat.

·It decreases your energy level and can result in compensating by eating more lately in the day.

Eat Often

·Smaller, more frequent meals (every 3-4 hours) will help provide the fuel faster and maintain good blood glucose control. The best pre-match choices are quick carbohydrate based snacks, e.g. a bagel with peanut butter, fruit, half a turkey sandwich, or a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour approved energy bar with a cup of fruit juice or water.

·To maintain a higher metabolism and burn up more kilojoules/calories eat a greater volume of food during the day rather than eating the largest meal at night. The overall energy intake is ultimately the most critical factor.

Drink Often

·Drink all day long. Your muscles are 80% water. Proper hydration will help maintain muscle mass.

·Most tennis players do not drink enough water or sports drink to keep well hydrated.

·Drink at least 3 (200 ml)cups of water, sports drink, other decaffeinated or non-alcoholic drink with each meal/snack

Protein Portions

·Most female athletes need 220-280 grams (8-10 ounces) of lean meat protein sources (poultry, seafood, red meat) daily. A typical meal portion for meat at a restaurant is about 170-220 grams (6-8 ounces).

·Adjust the amount of lean meat you eat at each meal to meet the guidelines.

·Choose lower fat options: skinless and non-crumbed fish and poultry; lean cuts of red meat with the fat trimmed off; grilled or baked rather than fried.Nuts, eggs, cheese, beans and soy products are also good protein sources

Fat Portions

·A small amount of fat is important. The Human body uses (healthy) fatty acids to build cell membranes and keep them moveable and flexible. They also help your metabolism and immune system. It provides a secondary energy source for tennis training and matches. It helps you not feel hungry on the court. 1-2 teaspoons with each meal is recommended.

·Fats are found in olive oil, avocado, seeds & nuts (healthy unsaturated fats) as well as mayonnaise, butter or salad dressing, fast foods. Know the Hidden Fats

·Hidden fats are in cheeses*, whole dairy products*, egg yolks, cream sauces, high fat meats like salami,crumbed foods, sweet pastries and fried foods. ** Dairy is important for calcium! Choose low fat dairy foods.**

·The usual serve of French fries contains 3-4 teaspoons of fat = daily minimum fat needs!

Carbohydrate Portions

·Eat at least 1-2 cups of carbohydrates at each meal for fullness, fiber, B vitamins and glycogen, which is your muscle energy system. E.g. high fiber cereals and bread, wheat crackers, starchy vegetables like potatoes, beans, brown rice, and peas.

·Without enough carbohydrate, you will feel lethargic, lack concentration, slow and lack power on court.

·Fuel with carbohydrates during training and matches.

Susie Parker\


The contents of the Game, Set, Health site, are for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, psychiatric, psychological, health care or health management advice. The materials herein are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this site. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk.

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