Everyone knows to eat right for health, but do you know what YOU, as a professional tennis player, should eat for peak performance?

Following the guidelines of the food pyramid can give you the extra power you need to improve your health and game.

Why use the Food Pyramid?

  • It provides a framework on what to eat for sport and health.
  • It provides guidelines to: fuel your body for tennis; recover from a tough match; satisfy hunger with balanced, healthy choices; meet your needs for muscle-building protein; and ensure you are getting vitamins and minerals for strong bones and blood.

What do Tennis Players need?

  • Tennis players need carbohydrates (bread, fruit and athlete group) for fuel and recovery.
  • Tennis players need protein (meat and dairy group) for growth, muscle repair, and recovery.
  • Tennis players need vitamins, minerals, & dietary fiber; make sure you get enough fruit and vegetables each day for these essential nutrients.
  • Tennis players also need more fluids, especially in the HEAT.


As an athlete, you need a certain number of calories to keep your body functioning and provide energy for your high-intensity physical activities. There are foods created specifically for athletes to provide extra fuel for training and recovery.

Athlete-specific foods consist of:

  • Sport drinks
  • Sport gels
  • Sport bars
  • Recovery drinks
  • Chocolate milk


Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain is a grain product. Bread, pasta, rice cakes, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, tortillas, and grits are examples of grain products. These foods are carbohydrates which provide the fuel and energy for performance.

Refined Grains

Burn quicker because they have been milled, a process that removes the bran and germ, such as:

  • White flour
  • White bread
  • White rice

Whole Grains

Burn slowly because they contain entire grain kernel: bran, germ & endosperm, such as:

  • Whole-wheat flour
  • Bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • Oatmeal
  • Whole cornmeal
  • Brown rice

Make sure you have at least one of these foods at each main meal: 3 times per day.


Any vegetable or 100% vegetable juice counts as a member of the vegetable group. Vegetables may be raw or cooked; fresh, frozen, canned, or dried/dehydrated; and may be whole, cut-up, or mashed. Vegetables are organized into 5 subgroups, based on their nutrient content. These foods are rich in minerals, antioxidant vitamins and dietary fiber.

Broccoli, green leafy lettuce, kale, spinach

Squash, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes

Black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, soy beans

Corn, potatoes

Asparagus, cabbage, celery, zucchini

Make sure you have 5 servings of vegetables per day, selected from 2 different groups.


Foods made from milk that retain their calcium content are part of the group, while foods made from milk that have little to no calcium, such as cream cheese, cream, and butter, are not. Commonly eaten choices:

  • Flavored or lactose-free milk
  • Milk-based desserts - pudding, frozen yogurt, ice cream
  • Hard natural cheeses - cheddar, Swiss, parmesan
  • Soft cheeses - ricotta, cottage cheese
  • Yogurt and yogurt drinks

Tennis players need at least 3-4 servings from milk group per day depending on age.


Any fruit or 100% fruit juice counts as part of the fruit group. Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried, and may be whole, cut-up, or pureed. These foods provide fuel for tennis; fiber and essential vitamins and minerals. Some commonly eaten fruits are:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Mangoes
  • Melons
  • Oranges
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Berries
  • Raisins

Make sure you eat at least 2 servings of fruit per day.


The meat group is an excellent source of protein that contains all the essential amino acids. It is also a great source of iron and zinc. Dry beans and peas are part of this group as well. Common choices:

  • Meat  - beef, ham, lamb, pork, veal
  • Poultry and eggs - chicken, turkey, duck eggs
  • Dry beans and peas - black beans, falafel, tofu
  • Nuts and seeds - almonds, cashews, peanuts, sesame & sunflower seeds
  • Fish - flounder, halibut, salmon, tuna, crayfish, lobster, scallops

Include protein with 2-3 meals per day.

*Vegetarians need to combine foods to get a complete protein source. If you have special dietary needs, consult a dietitian to ensure you get enough protein.


Oils are fats that are liquid at room temperature and come from different plants and fish. Solid fats, (solid at room temperature), like butter, come from animal foods or can be made from vegetable oils. A small amount of fats and oils should be eaten daily to provide essential fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins. Omega-3-fatty acids are health promoting fats found in: avocado, soybeans, almonds, flax seeds, and oily fish.

The information provided within this Physically Speaking topic is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, psychiatric, psychological, health care or health management advice. If you have any health or related questions or concerns, please consult your physician or other qualified health care professional.