When you’re on court, the last thing you want to think about is flagging energy levels. Katie Garner shares what foods will keep you on the run…
No matter what sport you play, there is always one main similarity – you are always going to need stamina to go the distance, whether you are swimming miles, boxing like your life depends on it, or sprinting urgently around court. Building up your endurance is mainly about training your body and pushing your limits, but where would you be if you didn’t even have the energy to put one foot in front of the other? Eating for energy is greatly important in sport, and although we may just hastily scoff whatever the fridge presents us with before club night, it is worth thinking about what foods will keep you going for longer. The types of food and the timing of your meals can have a great impact on your energy levels; an example being that greasy and fatty foods can leave you with indigestion which I am sure is rather a distraction when playing. The opposite is also true though – don’t skip meals, as no food equals no energy, and also a lack of concentration, which will be vastly annoying for your doubles partner.
Complex carbohydrates are your dearest friends when it comes to that all important energy. It’s important that you opt for the complex kind, as opposed to sugary carbs, as these are broken down slower by your body, which then keeps your blood sugar levels steady, meaning no energy dips. Sugary carbs on the other hand can only give you a short instant burst that will quickly wear off. And that’s not what you need when you are playing best of three games. Carbs contain glucose, a really key energy source for your muscles, which help improve stamina and endurance. So, stock up on beans, whole grain breads, pasta and rice for a lasting energy stream.
Whole grain and whole foods in general are very good for your system, especially where energy is concerned, so take a shine to these ingredients:
- Brown pasta
- Brown rice
- Peanut Butter
Protein is the secondary fuel source for your body after carbs, and mainly helps you to feel full, so that you don’t have to worry about a grumbling tummy distracting you from that murderous smash. Protein is fantastic for your muscles – it helps keeps your them primed and ready to go, as well as building muscle growth, so make sure you tuck into cheese, milk, yoghurts and peanut butter for a fast protein fix.
Bananas are the most common fruit in the sporting circuits, with sports stars across the globe leaving banana skins dangled delicately across bags and benches for a quick bite between points. There is a very good reason for this as they can be digested quickly for an instant energy boost without making you feel heavy and overfilled. The perfect snack to indulge in a couple of hours before play.
TIP: For a full on energy packed snack, why not mix the boosting benefits of both bananas and protein in a healthy smoothie? Using low fat yoghurts and a mix of fruits, they can actually keep you full for hours and carefully chosen ingredients will not only keep hunger at bay but also keep your energy levels topped up. Why not try one of the following recipes…
Banana and Peanut Butter Smoothie: http://www.honeywhatscooking.com/2010/05/peanut-butter-banana-smoothie-made-with.html
Jamba Juice Banana Berry Smoothie: http://www.smoothieweb.com/jamba-juice-banana-berry-recipe/
Mango, Banana and Strawberry Layered Smoothie: http://www.smoothieweb.com/mango-strawberry-banana-smoothie/
Quick fire foods to look out for
- Veg such as sprouts, broccoli, spinach and asparagus
- Nuts and seeds make the ideal snack, so grab a handful of almonds, peanuts, soy nuts, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
- Vitamin B, found in yoghurt, helps convert other kinds of nutrients into energy so it’s always worth grabbing some of this in your diet
- Vitamin C, found in all things citrus, is fab for fighting fatigue
- Beans and lentils, such as kidney beans and even baked beans, are packed with potassium and carbs
Another vital way to keep energy bubbling away is making sure that you stay hydrated. This stops your muscles getting tired and keeps them feeling refreshed, which let’s face, is something we all need at times.
What are your recommended energy foods? What meals do you feel keep you going for longer? Let’s share some recipes here people! Please email me your fave recipes and then we can do a follow up piece with your best meals and snacks!