-By Sophia Yanik
If you want to play like the pros, you may have to eat like one.
We live in a world full of uber trendy eating, fashionable fodder, and aesthetically pleasing dishes. We tend to document our meals, enhancing these images, featuring them on social media sites, in blogs, and even in print (archaic, right?). Trendy is going to a farm-to-table restaurant. Trendy is utilizing sustainable food sources for events and everyday eating. And especially in the tennis world, don’t we all want to be trendy?
Junk food appears to no longer be “cool,” while healthy and eco-friendly eating is very much “in.” Celebrities always seem to be conscious of their eating habits, but in the more recent years, we are seeing more starlets in every industry focusing on not only the nutritional value, but where exactly their food is coming from.
Athletes especially are subscribing to this mindful mentality, including tennis greats such as Novak Djokovic, Venus Williams, and Rafael Nadal, among others. We’ve had “you are what you eat” and “you get out what you put in” drilled into our minds by nutritionists, doctors, and other health professionals. After watching the success of these athletes, that message makes sense.
The International Tennis Federation defines a “tennis diet” as one high in energy, protein to maintain muscle strength and growth, water to stay hydrated, and a good amount of carbohydrates. We all know that. But, there is clearly a strong correlation between the recommended diet of a tennis player and the super-healthy, in-style diets we see today.
Both eating styles consist of raw proteins and ingredients, as well as high-energy foods that are low in artificial ingredients. To model your diet after some of tennis’ most famed, try complex carbs like quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat, and oatmeal. Raw fruits and vegetables, sans butter and heavy amounts of seasonings, will keep your energy levels high. Additionally, diets low in sugar allow for less of a crash after tiring match play or a killer workout.
The common misconception with the entirety of these organic eating plans is that green liquids and cardboard-like nutrition bars make up the majority of a person’s caloric intake. For some, this much is true. Take Djokovic, for example. The gluten-free tennis star has raised the bar in terms of nutrition and diet. He concentrates on eating warm foods that aid in digestion, little to no sugar, and absolutely nothing genetically modified.
After realizing that he needed to change his diet following his 2010 defeat by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Djokovic switched to gluten-free and then became injury-free. Another big name in tennis forced to focus on food due to health issues is the self-proclaimed “chegan,” (cheating vegan) Venus Williams. Williams’ plant-based vegan diet has been crafted carefully to accommodate to her autoimmune disease, Sjogren’s syndrome.
Rather than engineering an eating plan towards a dietary requirement (a.k.a eating healthy because they have to), players like Roger Federer and Serena Williams maintain a balanced diet to improve their performance and well-being. With Federer, abstention from alcohol is key, and featured on his menu are low-fiber, low-fat, high-carb items. Leading lady Serena Williams had a brief stint with an all-vegan diet in 2010, (to compliment her sister, Venus) but the avid chef loves her chicken and dairy (in moderation, true to form).
So clearly, in order to play with the pros, you have to eat like one. In this case, eating mindfully has the power to enhance the environment, while simultaneously improving your game and keeping current.