Pre And Post Workout Nutrition

Sports nutrition is a consistent approach to fueling the body for exercise, helping it recover and improving its ability to perform.

Published May 17, 2012 11:35

Pre And Post Workout Nutrition
Julia Goerges


What is Nutrition?

When people hear the word "nutrition," food usually comes to mind - healthy, leafy greens, delicious fruits and bright-colored vegetables. An athlete's definition of nutrition is different from the average Joe. Proper sports nutrition is a consistent, repetitive and individualized approach to fueling the body for exercise, helping it recover, and ultimately, improving its ability to perform. Timing of fluids, carbs and proteins is critical.

Due to the demands of constant travel and competing in different countries with diverse cuisines and cultures WTA players are often not getting the proper amounts of vitamins and minerals from their diet. Additionally, due to the demands they place on their bodies, athletes' nutritional requirements are greater. Thus, it's no surprise that more and more tennis players are turning to nutritional supplements to fill that nutritional void and enhance their performance abilities.

Nutritional supplements play an increasingly important role the more advanced the tennis player becomes, most importantly, however, is attention to proper pre- and post-workout nutrition (i.e. fluids, carbohydrates (carbs), and low-fat proteins).

Why Does Getting the Proper Nutrition Before/After a Match Matter?

Our bodies perform best when at homeostasis, or in good balance, at a normal body temperature with a full fuel tank. Exercise is an additional stressor to the body, and the body must be adequately nourished to overcome the challenges of training and competition. A huge part of maintaining homeostasis is ensuring that the body is hydrated and fueled.

Being hydrated ensures peak performance because it allows the body to sweat adequately and maintain proper body temperature. The hydrated athlete can efficiently deliver nutrients to his or her working muscles. Research shows that losing only 2% of one's bodyweight in sweat leads to a noticeable decrease in performance, and likely points to an impaired ability of the body to maintain temperature and deliver nutrients.

A full fuel tank refers to having enough muscle glycogen and phosphocreatine (short-term energy reserve). Glycogen is the carbohydrate fuel reserve we use to exercise. Phosphocreatine and muscle glycogen are the main fuel sources for our muscles during intense exercise. Having enough phosphocreatine in the body helps with explosiveness on the court, while having enough muscle glycogen will ensure enough fuel to play at a high level throughout a match. Having enough muscle glycogen and consuming protein before exercise minimizes the amount of muscle protein that will be broken down during the match. This pre-exercise protein may even help speed muscle recovery when the match is done.

What Should a Tennis Player's Pre and Post Workout Nutrition Consist Of?

Appropriately timed carbs, fluids, and protein - Roughly 60 to 180 minutes before a workout or match, a tennis player should eat a healthy meal with plenty of carbohydrates and some protein. The earlier you eat, the more you can eat, and the closer you are to the start of exercise, the less you should eat. Allowing time for digestion before exercise reduces the chance of an upset stomach and gives carbs more time to get to the muscles they will be fueling. Start drinking fluids several hours before exercise. If you haven't relieved yourself within a couple hours and your urine is dark yellow in color drink more before beginning the match. Our bodies repair and refuel best the sooner we provide them with recovery nutrition. Timely post-workout nutrition also boosts our immune system.

Carbohydrates - If you're not currently paying attention to refueling after exercise, a good starting point is about 1-1.2g/kg. Avoid high-fat carb sources (pasta in cream sauces, fried rice, chips, cookies) as fat will slow absorption and delay delivery of carbs to your muscles to top off your glycogen tank. Your body composition and energy level in your next workouts guide whether more or less carbs should be consumed as you tailor your sports nutrition plan to you.

Protein - Avoid high-fat sources (most red meats, fried chicken). A good target is 10 to 20 grams. Smaller players should shoot for the low end of this range, and larger players should shoot for the high end. This may also vary according to the difficulty and duration of the exercise...

Fluids - Drink slightly more fluids than you might normally, such as a tall glass or two, with all post-exercise meals. Good options include: low fat chocolate milk, sport recovery drink, smoothie, sports bars, fruit and yogurt, half a sandwich.

What Kinds of Supplements Do You Recommend Tennis Players Take?

Supplements play increasingly important roles for elite athletes. Greater demands on the body mean greater demands for virtually all nutrients. (please note that some are 33% more and others no difference) As skills are perfected and attention to proper training and diet are maximized, the athlete must increasingly look to other avenues to improve their performance.

USANA Essentials™ - USANA recommends consuming the essential vitamins and minerals to assist athletes in reaching their performance potential. USANA has found that separating vitamins and the minerals enhances effectiveness. Therefore, USANA's Chelated Mineral and Mega Antioxidant are a great "insurance policy" to make sure enough micronutrients are consumed daily.

Peanut Butter Nutrition Bars and Chocolate Whey Nutrimeal™ - Carbohydrate and protein shakes and bars are convenient and usually well tolerated before and after exercise. Not suitable by themselves for recovery, however is a suitable snack and traveling food. Shakes provide additional fluids and are absorbed rapidly, helping you gear up for and recover from exercise when time is tight.

Vitamin D - Vitamin D helps keep the bones and immune system strong, and likely plays other roles in our muscles, which scientists are still discovering. Players/individuals are encouraged to have their vitamin D tested annually and supplement as required.

Procosa® - Glucosamine, the primary ingredient in USANA's Procosa, has been shown to be highly effective in maintaining healthy cartilage. Healthy cartilage is crucial for healthy joints, and Procosa includes additional components for joint health.

If There's One Thing People Should Remember To Do Pre and Post Workout, What Would That Be?

Be your own Head Performance Coach (HPC) - Hydrate, Protein, Carbs.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Thanks to John Bosse, MS, RD, CD, NSCA-CPT,
USANA Research and Development and
Susie Parker-Simmons, MS, RD, MED
Sports Dietician and Physiologist
WTA Sports Nutrition Advisor


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