If you're only a casual fan, you might not realise just how draining life is when you're playing at the top level of professional tennis. The pro tour has one of the most demanding schedules in the world of sport. The players are constantly travelling, and generally have little idea of when their next game will be, or who it will be against.
Living in that state of flux means it's crucial that you control whatever you can, so diet is key. With Wimbledon around the corner, we've done some research, and we've picked up some useful diet hacks from some top tennis pros.
Start as you mean to go on
Tennis is all about maintaining a constant stream of energy throughout the day, so you are always ready to step out on the court. Swiss superman Stan Wawrinka starts his day with watermelon, two pieces of toast, two scrambled eggs and a cup of coffee. He's won three Grand Slams, so we reckon he's doing something right!
Avoiding heavy foods, but packing in slow release carbs and as much protein as you can will prepare you for a long day of running. The pros can cover anywhere between two miles in a normal match, to five if it's a marathon five-setter. A singles tennis court is only 27 feet wide, and 5 miles translates to a total of 26,400 feet. From a food perspective, that's the length of 52,000 hot dog, around 30,000 strings of your average spaghetti, or 977 shuttle runs from one side of the court to the other. Fancy doing all of that without fuelling up first?
Count those calories!
Normal people use around 5 to 11 calories per minute when playing singles recreational tennis. Competitive tennis players can burn between 6.4 to 14.4 calories per minute of activity. A cup of mushrooms contains around 15 calories, so you're effectively knocking back one of those per minute. That is some serious fuel at the end of a gruelling five set epic!
Famously, the longest match ever took place over three days at Wimbledon, with eleven hours, five minutes of play. At 14.4 calories per minute that's 9,576 calories burned! That's 28.8 avocados worth of energy, or 16 jars of chunky peanut butter. When you remember that the recommended daily intake is 2,500 calories for men and 2,000 for women, you'd better channel your inner Michael Phelps if you want to be a pro!
Keep it lean and green
This will come as a surprise to no one, but tennis players need to eat their veggies. Add some lean protein to that, and you're cooking with gas. Salads, lean meats and protein shakes are perfect if you have some time before you play, but they aren't a good idea if you're stepping out in the next hour or two. Ideally you want a fast absorbing carb like white rice, cereal, or the Wimbledon staple – bananas.
Pro tip! Do a Djokovic and find out if you're intolerant to anything. He got to world number two while he was still eating bread, milk and tomatoes – despite the fact that his body was intolerant of all of them. After collapsing during a match and enduring a lot of smack-talk from fellow pros, he turned to a nutritionist.
After changing his diet, he promptly went on a 43-match win streak – winning four major titles that year. He's now a vegan, and even opened his own vegan restaurant in Monte Carlo. Winning. Diet.
If you fancy some lean, healthy cuisine while you settle down in front of the tennis, then head to Deliveroo now!