Yesterday’s blog was Part 1 of Tennis Nutrition – An Open Letter To Andy Murray. Click HERE if you’ve missed it. Below is Part 2.
The most difficult thing to get across to adults (junior players LOVE this concept) is that breakfast should not be any different to any other meal, that is to say, breakfast is NOT about cereal, oats or a fry up.
When thinking about nutrition for tennis, breakfast, like lunch, dinner (and all of your snacks for that matter) is about giving your body a mix of different types of energy (from protein, starchy carbs, colourful carbs and fats), a mix of nutrients that help in converting starches to energy as well as helping in the repair of tissue, helping in making new tissue and helping in limiting tissue breakdown.
A bowl of cereal is simply not capable of providing all of the above. In certain instances, as has been seen in Mr Djokovic’s case, the gluten in the cereal is capable of reducing one’s energy and causing tissue damage. It is even possible, as I’ve mentioned in the article Can a Gluten-Free Diet Help Your Game of Tennis that gluten may have a negative impact on mood, co-ordination and balance.
However, it is important to note that gluten does not have a negative impact on everyone. The point that must be emphasised is not the possible deleterious effect of gluten but the inadequacy of a meal consisting of cereal and milk for an athlete (or for any human serious about their health).
So, you may ask if we are talking about sports nutrition, what should an athlete (and that includes you even as a rec tennis player serious about their performance) have for breakfast?
Assuming you are not training or competing within 3 hours of eating, breakfast should be no different to lunch or dinner (if you are training within 3 hours then reduce the quantity of the whole meal and slightly increase the starch content). You mentioned that you are eating more fish and vegetables. Well, that’s an excellent breakfast. If your palate cannot tolerate strong flavours in the morning then make it a white fish rather than an oily fish. ‘What about chicken?’ I hear you ask incredulously with a hint of sarcasm in your voice. Sure chicken is superb; but no skin please.
Of course I’m a big fan of eggs so if you like them, boiled, poached, scrambled or even fried, have an egg or two for breakfast. If you want to avoid toast, then try some mixed beans (try the tinned variety for ease), mix with olive oil, lemon juice or balsamic vinegar and any herbs or spices that take your fancy. If you feel particularly mischievous, you can chop some raw carrots and green beans (or any other crunchy veg) and mix into the bean salad.
What if porridge actually does make you feel energetic and mentally focused? If it works for you, go for it but make sure that you have more than oats and milk. Add a few unsalted nuts and seeds, a few slices of fresh fruit, a couple dried fruits…can you count six different foods on your plate?
To ensure your meal is as nutritious, energy building, muscle building and tissue building as possible, make sure you have six or more different foods on your plate (ignore quantity – this is the cause of the majority of nutritional blunders) and make sure the plate is colourful.
Why is quantity such a problem?
We will cover that in tomorrow’s tennis diet based blog!!