Maintaining a proper diet and nutrition is essential to maximizing our performance on the court. For athletes, and people in general, properly snacking, as well as, having small frequent meals throughout the day can be very beneficial for the mind and body to achieve optimal performance.
However, sometimes, as a tennis player, I find myself snacking the same things over and over again; so I did some research and came out with a variety of snacks ideas that we can have on and off the court.
These are 114 snacks ideas for tennis players:
Most fruits provide us with smoother digestion, a boost of energy, and better hydration.
- Apple slices with Peanut butter
- Orange slices
- Mixed berries with greek yogurt
- Cantaloupe slices
- Avocado slices with lime, pepper, and salt.
Dried Fruits (10)
- Banana chips
- Dried Mango
- Turkish apricots
- Dried cranberries
- Papaya chunks
- Dried apple rings
- Kiwi slices
- Pineapple chunks
- Dried fruit mix of your favorite ones
Make sure that you keep an eye on the amounts because it’s very easy to eat a lot of dried fruits, which can contain high amounts of sugar.
- Celery sticks with peanut butter
- Carrot sticks with cream cheese
- Cherry tomatoes with mozzarella cheese
- Sliced pepper with guacamole
- Sliced cucumbers with sweet potato hummus
- Broccoli with yogurt dip
- A sliced bell pepper with garlic hummus
- Cauliflower with hummus
- Edamame with salt
Dried & Baked Veggies (8)
- Nori ( Seaweed)
- Dried corn
- Dried peas
- Dried tomatoes
- Dried carrots
- Baked Bell peppers
- Baked Potatoes
- Baked Sweet potatoes
- Turkey sandwich
- Tuna sandwich with lettuce & mayo
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
- Peanut butter and honey sandwich
- Jam sandwich
- BLT (Bacon, lettuce & tomato) sandwich
- Ham & cheese sandwich
- Bologna sandwich
- Turkey and provolone sandwich
- Cheese sandwich
- Peanut butter & Banana sandwich
Nuts & Seeds (10)
- Macadamia nuts
- Sesame sticks
- Wasabi pea
- Sunflower seeds
- Trail mix (Your choice of nuts and dried fruit with granola and pretzels)
- Protein Bars
- Granola Bars
- Endurance & energy bars
- Cereal bars
- Fig bars
Whole-grain goods (14)
- Slice of bread (with peanut butter, jam, or honey)
- Graham Crackers
- Whole grain crackers
- English muffins
- Light Popcorn
- Instant oatmeal (you can add some fruit of your choice)
- Tortillas (Add some ham, cheese and/or veggies)
- Vanilla Wafers
- Rice cakes
- Toast (with butter and/or cream cheese)
Dairy Products (6)
Most dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese contained a generous amount of protein, carbs, and fat.
- Yogurt with cereals
- Greek yogurt with fruits
- String cheese
- Cheese cubes (You can eat them with crackers)
- Hard boiled eggs
Jerky & Dried Meats (5)
- Grass-Fed Beef Sticks
- Turkey Jerky sticks
- Pork Jerky sticks
- Teriyaki Beef Jerky
Chips & Crips (7)
- Apple chips
- Sweet potato chips
- Multi-grain chips
- Veggie sticks
- Veggie chips
- Crispy Kale chips
- Baked potato chips
- Sport Jellybeans
- Energy Gels
- Dark chocolate with nuts
Although I’m aware that beverages and drinks don’t qualify as snacks, I thought it was important to include them giving that we consume them along with snacks food. Most of the time they go hand by hand.
- Coconut Water
- Regular Water
- Sparkling Water
- Homemade sports drink (Water with lime, salt, and sugar)
- Check the following article to find out how can you do your own sport drink
- Sports drinks (Just be sure to pick one that is low in sugar)
- 100% fruit and/or vegetable juices
IMPORTANT INFORMATION TO CONSIDERED
Why are snacks important in your diet as a tennis player?
Snacks can help you decrease your hunger during main meals, making you eat less in one sit, and spread the number of calories you consume during the day. In certain days, we tend to exercise and work harder on the court, causing us to need more calories. Consequently, snacking provides us with extra calories when we need them the most.
Also, consuming snacks are a great way of providing your body with the fuel you need before and after your tennis practices and/or matches.
Tennis players (and athletes in general) usually, tend to have a high metabolism compare to people who have a more sedentary lifestyle. As a result, athletes tend to crave food more often, as well as, need more calories on a daily basis; making snacks a practical and convenient option.
Small frequent meals.
Although the number of meals you should eat during the day varies for everyone, experts usually recommend, for most people, around six meals a day. According to most nutritionists, the idea of three meals per day is too little and not enough. Nevertheless, if you’re going to go for more small meals, remember to spread out the number of approximate calories you should eat daily, so you don’t end up eating much more.
How long should you eat before a tennis match?
According to Kara Lydon, a Health Communications manager from Chobani, you should eat around 1 to 3 hours before your tennis match to obtain the necessary energy that you’ll need on the court. Lydon also suggests that you shouldn’t eat right before your game; the less time before your match, the less amount of food you should consume for optimal performance.
How many calories should I eat as a tennis player?
The ideal amount of calories that a tennis player should consume will vary for everyone. However, according to the International Tennis Federation, most tennis players consume around 2,500 calories per day. Furthermore, professional tennis players are expected to consume about 3,500 to 5,000 calories a day.
Find what works for you!
When choosing your snacks, keep in mind that we all processed food differently. What might work for me might not be ideal for you. To a certain degree, we are all different “machines.” Experiment and find what works for you. Just make sure to try new foods and snacks during your practice days, so you don’t take the risk of dealing with digestive discomfort during your matches.
SNACKS & THE SIX CRUCIAL NUTRIENTS:
While you’re deciding which snacks you’ll be having, keep in mind the importance of consuming the six essential nutrients that your body needs: Proteins, Carbs, Fats, Minerals, Vitamins, and Water. The three sources of fuels are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Remember that keeping a healthy and well-balanced diet will have a direct impact on your performance on the court.
For tennis players and athletes in general, proteins have a crucial role in their diets. In addition to regulating their metabolism, this type of nutrient allows players to repair and build muscles, as well as, body tissues. Although protein can be beneficial for recovering after a long session on the court, is not an ideal source of energy before for a tennis match or practice session.
According to the ITF, the International Tennis Federation, 10 to 15% of the daily calories of a high-performance tennis player should come from proteins.
- Snack ideas: Jerky beef, dried meat, yogurt, eggs, cheese, nuts, veggies, among others.
Have you heard the term “cash is king,” well when it comes to energy for your body “carb is king.” Carbs are by far the best fuel for your muscles, brain, and body in general. Consuming carbohydrates is crucial for performing high-intensity exercises. Eating the proper amounts of carbs allows your body to maintain the right levels of blood glucose and glycogen, which are needed for high performance.
The advantages of eating the proper amounts of carbs are: increase of training intensity, faster recovery between workouts, longer duration of intense training, prevent muscles from burning out, among other benefits.
Prior to a tennis match, it’s recommended that players eat foods high in carbs, limited in proteins, and low in fats for better digestion. Also, the ITF suggest that around 60% of your daily calories should be carbs.
Two types of carbohydrates: Simple & Complex
- Simple (sugars) – this type of carbs are quickly digested by the body.
- Complex (starchy) – they take much longer for the body to absorb than simple carbs.
Although complex carbs are usually recommended because they provide the body with longer energy, simple carbohydrate (like liquid carbs) are ideally during a match or practice. These liquid carbs raise the level of glucose in a shorter time, making them quicker source energy.
Timing your consumption of carbs
It’s suggested that for optimal performance carbohydrates should be consumed two to three hours before your training.
- Snack ideas: bread, potatoes, cereal, rice cakes, energy bars and veggies.
For tennis players fat is not ideally the best source of energy and fuel; however, it still provides players with a significant secondary source of energy. It’s the nutrient that has the longest digestion time, making them not ideal when quick energy is needed. Nevertheless , fat helps athletes stay full for a longer time and keep their appetite under control.
As a tennis player, It’s suggested that fat should take 20% to 30% of your daily calories.
Saturated vs. Unsaturated
Two of the most essential types of fats are saturated and unsaturated fat. Unsaturated fats can be found in vegetable oils, as well as, fish. Sources of saturated fat are most from animals with some exceptions like fish.
- Snack Ideas: milk, cheese, chocolate, avocado, butter, nuts, seeds, olives, jerky beef, among others.
Including the most essential vitamins in your diet can improve your digestions, metabolism, and body development. If you keep this is in mind when snacking, it can be much easier to maintain a balanced and healthy diet. There are 13 different vitamins that are crucial for our body. Although it will be more favorable to obtain most of the vitamins we need through our diet, athletes and people in general, rely on vitamin supplements.
Below, I’ll share snacks that contain some of the most essential vitamins you need.
This vitamin contributes to the creation of white blood cells, which can help you with recovering from a high-intensity workout, as well as, to repair micro muscle tears.
- Snack ideas: carrot sticks, broccoli & dip, dried mangos, goji berries.
A benefit of consuming appropriate levels vitamins B is that it improves the metabolism process.
- Snack ideas: nuts & seeds, veggies, tuna sandwich, cheese strings, hard boiled eggs, bananas.
Vit. C can help you have stronger bones, tendon, and ligaments, along with, a faster tissue repair process.
- Snack ideas: strawberries, broccoli & dip, orange slices, pineapple slices, sliced pepper, kale chips, lemonade.
This vitamin helps the body absorb calcium, making it crucial for maintaining healthy bones. Although vitamin D is mainly obtained from sun exposure, there are certain snacks that have high levels of vitamin D.
- Snack ideas: hard-boiled eggs, tuna with crackers, yogurt with fruits, cheese strings, mushroom chips.
A positive effect of having the appropriate levels of Vitamin E is that it decreases muscle tissue deterioration by maintaining a robust immune system.
- Snack ideas: nuts & seeds, dried fruits, sliced veggies, cereals, popcorn, dark chocolate.
Consuming the proper amount of minerals are vital for the body to work correctly, as well as, to maintain a healthy diet. This type of nutrients, which for the most part can be obtained by keeping a healthy balanced diet, can help you with your metabolism and growth. The following minerals are some of the most essential electrolytes, which you can get when snaking: calcium, sodium, potassium, and iron.
Through sweating, when performing intense workouts and/or exercises, the body loses significant amounts of mineral like calcium, potassium, and sodium.
Calcium is essential to keep strong bones and to avoid or decrease muscle contractions. Then, having the proper amount of sodium can help tennis players decrease heat exhaustion, muscle cramps, fatigue, and dizziness, to name a few. Besides helping with muscle contractions, potassium can reduce nausea, vomiting, and tiredness. Usually, athletes in general, need more of these types of minerals because they run through them faster than sedentary people.
Furthermore, maintaining proper levels of iron is necessary for the generation and deployment of energy, which prevents, to a certain degree, the body from entering into a fatigue and tiredness state.
Snack ideas that contain:
- Calcium: Low-fat milk, yogurt, string cheese, and sardines.
- Sodium: nuts and seeds, popcorn, sports drinks, and crackers.
- Potassium: green veggies, melon, tomato juice, string cheese, and bananas.
- Iron: Jerky beef, dried meat, dried fruit, veggies, and cereal.
Consuming water provides the body with the fundamental task of transferring nutrients to cells, as well as, to maintain the necessary body temperature during exercises. It’s recommended that the average person gets around 2 to 3 liters of water per day.
Although drinking water is vital, keep in mind that there is such a thing as “drinking too much water.” As an athlete, consuming excessive amounts of water can have a detrimental effect on your body and performance because you’ll be flushing necessary nutrients off your system.
- Ideas: water, mineral water, fruit and vegetable juices, milk, tomato juice, flavored water, and lemonade.
MORE SNACK IDEAS …
Snacks ideas for your tennis team
Whether you’re in a high school team, college team, or a league team, at some point, you might be given the task of taking care of the snacks for the whole team. If that’s your current situation, I have a few portable and simple snacks ideas that you might find useful.
- Sandwiches (check the list above to get some ideas)
- Trail mix (Nuts & dried fruits)
- Cheese strings
- Carrot & celery sticks with dips
- Pizza (I’ll suggest to keep it as healthy as possible; find a place where they keep processed ingredient to a minimum)
- Whole wheat English muffins
- Bagels with butter or cream cheese
- Sports drinks of your choice (I’ll suggest to keep it low in sugar)
- Sparkling water
For convenience reason, I’ll recommend that you get one type of snacks for everyone, instead of one different for each person. If you want to find a way of losing your mind quickly, just try to get different orders for every team member, you’ll soon realize how challenging it can be. That’s why I suggest that you get one thing for everyone.
For example, one thing that works most of the time is pizza. You can order a few pies with different toppings, and you’re all set.
Before you decide on what to get for the whole team, be sure to find out if anybody is allergic to certain foods, or if there is any kind of food they won’t eat.
Types of snacks (and or drinks) to limit its consumption
As a tennis player, an athlete and a person who cares about their health, you should avoid or limit the consumption of snacks that are high in sugar, unhealthy fat, and use highly processed ingredients. These types of snacks usually have low levels of healthy nutrients, and will not give you the fuel and energy you need on the court.
Although I understand that we are not robots and sometimes we crave our fair share of sweets, fats and/ or fast food, when consuming these, try to keep them to a minimum or at least not overeat them.
Some of the snacks that you should limit its consumption are:
- Candies – these snacks contain high levels of sugar that will spike your sugar levels to the roof, and contribute to gaining a few extra pounds.
- Cookies & crackers – although there are some healthy ones, try to avoid those that are highly processed and use limited nutritional ingredients.
- Cakes & Pastries – many of them have high amounts of sugar, sodium, refine flour and preservatives.
- Chips & crips – especially the highly processed ones like potato chips, corn chips, sweet potato chips, cheese flavored puffs, to name a few.
- Ice cream – most ice creams have a hight amount of sugar, as well as, empty calories.
- White Bread – most of them are made of refined wheat, making them low in healthy nutrients. As a result, it can lead to a spike in your blood sugar, as well as, weight gain.
- High sugary beverages – remember that junk food can come in different forms, and liquid is not an exception. Nowadays, many beverages contain enormous amounts of added sugar, which can have detrimental effects on your health. For example:
- Commercial Sweet teas
- Commercial Smoothies
- Flavored Coffees (like Frappuccinos, mochas, and lattes)
- Energy Drinks – the combination of added sugar and caffeine make most energy drinks a cocktail that in the long run can be detrimental to your health. After the initial spike, these drinks will make you crash hard, which can have an adverse effect on your performance.
- Fruit Juices – they might seem a healthy choice, however, fruit juices can contain considerable amounts of sugar.
- Tonic Water – although, originally, composed of mainly carbonated water, nowadays, some tonic waters have a lot added sugar, making them pretty much a soft drink.
- Fast food (a.k.a. junk food) – although not all fast foods are unhealthy, many of them offered highly processed foods that have minimal nutritional benefits. For example:
- French Fries
- Most commercial pizzas – contain refined wheat, as well as, many processed ingredients)
- Doughnuts – these types of snacks, usually, have many processed ingredients like refined wheat and sugar, and in some cases, added fats like trans fats.
In general, try to skip snacks and fast meals that are highly processed. Usually, they are high in refined sugar, grains, added fats, and industrial oils. Whether you’re an athlete or just a regular person, these types of food, offered you almost no nutritional value.
Snack ideas for before a tennis match ( a few hours before)
There are a few things to consider when choosing what snacks to have before a tennis match. According to USTA consultant, Page Love, before a match, tennis players should consider three things: (1) consume foods high in carbohydrates, limited in protein and low in fat; (2) have foods that you are comfortable and familiar with; and (3) eat foods that your body will digest smoothly and won’t give you stomach discomfort.
These are some pre-match snack ideas:
- English muffins
- Sandwiches – bread with slices of ham, cheese, and/or turkey.
- Slice of plain pizza (keep low in processed ingredients)
- Carrot sticks
- Celery sticks
- Whole wheat crackers
- Pita bread
Snacks to avoid before a tennis match
Although these won’t apply to everybody, in general, I’ll suggest avoiding the following snacks before your match; just to be safe.
- Vegetables & Salads (especially leafy greens)
- Despite being very healthy snack options, eating greens before a match can cause digestive discomfort due to their high content of fiber.
- Caffeinated beverages
- Although caffeine can increase your performance, to a certain degree, on the court, it can produce stomach pain and dehydration.
- Nuts & Seeds
- It’s better to limit the consumption of fiber and fat before your match, so you don’t take the risk of having digestive discomfort and/or stomach ache.
- Whole grain
- Avoid eating too much whole grain because they can be inflammatory and cause bloating.
- Hummus & bean dips
- This dips can cause inflammation in your body, as well as, less oxygen ingestion.
- Keep dairy to a minimum or avoid its consumption before a tennis match; it can cause stomach distress, as well as, cramps during your competition.
Snack ideas for after a tennis match
After a tennis match, it’s important to replenish fluids, electrolytes, and muscle glycogen. So, it’s crucial that you consume food high in carbs, as well as, in protein. Also, after your match, drink a sports beverage (keep an eye on the sugar) so that you can make up for all body fluid lost, and get the electrolytes that you need.
These are some post-match snack ideas:
- Low-fat yogurt with fruit (banana, apple, grapes, strawberries, among others)
- Cheese strings with crackers
- Apple (or banana) with peanut butter
- Hard boiled eggs and hummus
- Nuts, seeds, & dried fruit (trail mix)
- Granola bars
- Salmon with toasts
- Orange juice
- Cold cut sandwich (Ham, cheese, turkey, to name a few)
- Protein shake & a banana
Ideas to store your snacks
Below I’ll share some ideas on what to use to store your snacks.
- Zippered plastic bags – you can use these bags to store snacks that are not soft or delicate. Since they come with airtight zippers, they are handy for making sure the food won’t spill. On Amazon, you can buy this zippered plastic bags for around $15.
- Bento boxes – these containers are very convenient for storing a variety of snacks because they have multiple compartments. On Amazon, I found these bento boxes that come with three compartments at an affordable price.
- Small plastic or glass container – if you’re eating snacks that are softer and can get crushed, make sure to store them in a plastic or glass container.
- Insulated reusable bags – If you are eating perishable snacks (like veggies, fruits, and/or cold cut sandwiches), it might make sense to get an insulated bag. With this kind of bags, you won’t have to worry about eating your snacks right away, or wondering whether they’ll stay fresh for later. I found these 2 insulated bags deal for around $20 on Amazon, click here to check it out. If you would like to keep your snacks fresh longer, you can get cold packs and put them in the bag.
A few last words…
Although I made this list thinking on tennis players, I think most of these snacks ideas can be useful for the average athlete. Remember that choosing the right snacks (fuel) can give you a significant edge on the court. Please share with us your own snacks ideas and lets us know which ones are your favorites! Thanks for reading!