Home Articles Post Match/Recovery Nutrition Tips With A Fall Flavor

Post Match/Recovery Nutrition Tips With A Fall Flavor

sweet potato

By Page Love, MS, RDN, CSSD, USPTA

For the competitive ALTA player, having a recovery plan helps you to go out and play day after day without feeling fatigued. And if you are headed to playoffs, the more you play, the more important recovery is! Your body uses carbohydrate fuels for the muscle work in tennis play; after a tennis match, you are depleted of glycogen stores, might be dehydrated, and muscle tissue may be broken down, too. So your nutritional priorities should be to refuel, rehydrate, and recover with key nutrients in all of these categories.

Example of Post-Match Recovery Smoothie for Fall Weather:
Mix 1/2 cup canned pumpkin, 1/2 cup applesauce, 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 1 Tbsp almond butter, 1 cup ice, 1 cup protein-fortified almond milk (such as Silk Nut Protein or Orgain brands) into a blender. Serve chilled and consume within 30 minutes of finishing play.

Example of Post-Match Fall Recovery Meal Ideas to eat within two hours after play:
2-3 cups Zoodles butternut pasta with marinara turkey meat sauce.

Mixed green salad with craisins, pinenuts, and vinaigrette


2-3 cups fall bowl meal containing 1 cup of brown rice, 1 cup cooked/chopped sweet potato, 1 cup fresh baby kale leaves, 2 Tbsp walnuts, and grilled chicken, topped off with vinaigrette.

2-3 cups of water with both

More about Protein
A vital recovery macronutrient, tennis players should aim to have at least a 3- to 4-ounce serving of protein at mealtime (two times per day) and a 1- to 2-ounce serving of protein at snack time (one to two times a day). Research suggests that protein needs are slightly increased with heavier exercise training, especially training involving both strength and endurance components such as tennis.

Meeting your daily protein recovery needs
Common amounts of protein found in foods:

1 cup low-fat milk—8 grams
1 oz. cheese—8 grams
1 oz. meat, fish, poultry—7 grams
1 slice bread—3 grams
1 Tbsp. peanut butter—7 grams
1 cup starchy beans—14 grams

Should I consider protein supplements?
Not usually. Protein needs can easily be met without supplementation, as seen above. Taking in extra protein much above your daily training needs could possibly cause weight gain in the form of fat as well as dehydrate your body, leading to fatigue on the court.

When should I eat protein?
Include protein with each meal and spread equally throughout the day. Try not to eat a large portion of protein right before or immediately following matches; it is most important at these times to increase fluid, electrolyte, and carbohydrate food choices first, then to get a recovery protein 30 minutes after play.

What about meat alternatives?
There are plenty of alternatives today for those who want to eat less red meat or no meat at all. These include soy products, dairy, eggs, beans and nuts, and so on. Remember, though, that it takes two times the visual equivalent of vegan protein foods to get the same amount as you would from animal proteins (3 oz. equivalent).

Page Love, MS, RDN, CSSD, USPTA is on the USTA Sport Science Committee and is a nutrition consultant to both the ATP and WTA professional tennis tours. She runs a private practice in Sandy Springs and Buckhead, and can be reached at nutrfitga.com.


Top 5 Nutrition Recovery Tips
Drink fluids and consume foods that replenish muscle energy stores and electrolytes lost in competition.

  1. Consume carbohydrates and proteins as soon as possible, preferably within 30 minutes of a match. Begin by drinking a sports drink as you walk off the court. Chocolate milk is a good option, too, as well as a homemade smoothie (see below). Target a 4:1 carbohydrate/protein ratio at this time.
  2. Replace 150 percent of body fluids lost or at least 16-24 oz. hydrating fluids per pound of weight loss within two hours of a match, ideally rehydrating to your pre-match weight to completely rehydrate. Water or electrolyte beverages are ideal.
  3. Eat a high-carbohydrate meal (.45- 7 grams/lb of carb) or recovery drink (at least 60 grams carb) that also contains a protein source (at least 15-25 grams pro) within two hours after play to maximize muscle glycogen recovery (rebuild energy stores) and to support protein synthesis in muscle.
  4. After competitive play, be sure to include carbohydrates, protein, fluid, and sodium in the evening meal to quicken recovery from play. Consider lightly salting foods and consuming foods and beverages that are natural sodium sources.
  5. Avoid high-protein and high-fat foods (such as loaded burger and steak meals) as these will contribute to dehydration and cause you to feel sluggish and have indigestion.

For a 150-lb. tennis player, the following daily training diet would meet 110 grams of protein to meet full recovery needs:
Breakfast (24 grams)
1 cup cereal—3 grams
1 cup low-fat milk—8 grams
1 bagel—6 grams
1 Tbsp. peanut butter—7 grams
1 cup orange juice—0 grams

Lunch (39 grams)
Sandwich with lean turkey—28 grams
1 oz. pretzels—3 grams
1 carrot—2 grams
1 apple—0 grams
1 cup low-fat milk—8 grams

Dinner (38 grams)
3 oz. grilled chicken or fish—22 grams
salad with dressing—2 grams
1 cup brown rice—6 grams
1 cup fruit—0 grams
1 cup low-fat milk—8 grams

Optional Snacks (9 grams)
3 cups popcorn—3 grams
10 vanilla wafers—6 grams

Daily total: 110 grams

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