Calories Needed as a Tennis Player

If you’re only playing recreational doubles, you don’t need to load up on extra calories or change your diet.

If you’re only playing recreational doubles, you don’t need to load up on extra calories or change your diet.

If you’re a trained tennis player, you’ll burn off calories like a gas-guzzling car eats up oil. A competition singles game ranks as a high-intensity sport that requires hundreds of quick bursts of energy. Although it may only take 10 seconds to score a point, tennis can qualify as an endurance sport during long matches. You need aerobic training for endurance, resistance training for strength and long hours of practicing skills on the court. You’ll need about 3,000 calories a day if you’re playing serious tennis.

Types of Tennis

The calories you’ll need as a tennis player depends on the type of tennis you play. While some research reveals that tennis players reach maximal heart rates even with the stop-and-start game play, other studies indicate that the hearts of tennis players barely get a workout, according to the University of California, Berkeley’s book, “New Wellness Encyclopedia.” If you play doubles tennis, you’ll burn an average of 300 calories per hour. In contrast, you’ll expend 450 calories per hour in a singles game. If you’re competing in a singles tennis game, you can burn as many as 600 to 800 calories per hour. The calories you need for peak performance will depend on the intensity and duration of your tennis game.

Competition versus Training

Compared to training, you’ll need to consume more calories for serious competition. During a competition, the play-by-play on court can be unpredictable and the match can continue for longer than expected. According to Heidi Skolnik’s “Nutrient Timing for Peak Performance,” a 125-pound player who trains for two hours everyday will need 2,400 calories per day. When playing tennis, your energy will primarily come from carbohydrates and fat. If you run out of both of those fuels, your body will start using up protein. Of the daily intake of 2,400 calories, 1,348 calories should come from carbohydrates, 648 calories from fat and 396 calories from protein. Assuming that same player is in competition and more hours are spent playing than training, the calorie requirement increases to 2,900 calories. In terms of energy distribution, 1, 760 calories will come from carbohydrates, 424 calories from protein and 729 calories from fat.

Competition Day Carbohydrate Requirement

For competition, you need to ramp up your intake of carbohydrates because the carbs will provide energy for muscle contractions at a speedier rate than fat and ward off premature fatigue. If you eat enough carbs, the quality of your strokes may improve in those crucial final stages of the match. For optimal performance, take in 100 grams of carbs about a half hour before the match. Take in another 50 grams of carbs every two hours during the match, according to “Sports Nutrition: Client Education Handouts” by Christine Rosenbloom.

Types of Foods per Energy Source

Some carbohydrates are available as blood sugar, but most of the carbs in your body are stored in the form of glycogen in your muscles and liver. In the carbohydrate category, foods that can give your muscles a quick shot of energy are cereal, bagels, honey, white rice and baked potatoes. Other foods that are good source of carbohydrates are fruits, vegetables and whole grain breads. Your body will burn carbs from yogurt and apples at a lower rate. As per fat, stick with healthy forms, such as nuts, olive oil and canola oil. There are several good sources of protein, which include poultry, fish, cheese, yogurt, nuts, eggs, soy foods and low-fat milk.

 

About the Author

Kay Tang is a journalist who has been writing since 1990. She previously covered developments in theater for the "Dramatists Guild Quarterly." Tang graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Yale University and completed a Master of Professional Studies in interactive telecommunications at New York University.

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