Best Tennis Snacks for Before, During, and After a Match
It can be helpful for tennis players to have ideas for snacks that will provide them with energy on the tennis court. Let’s take a look at suggestions for tennis snacks that athletes can enjoy before, during, and after a tennis match.
Pre-Match Tennis Snacks
When planning what snacks to eat before a match, tennis players should consider how far in advance of the match they will eat the snack. When athletes have limited time (< 2 hours) prior to the start of the match, they should focus on consuming carbohydrate-rich snacks.
Similar to gas in a car, carbohydrates provide athletes with the energy needed to perform at their best.
High-carb snacks that athletes can enjoy prior to a tennis match include:
- Fresh fruit: Bananas, grapes, apples, oranges, pears, peaches, plums
- Applesauce squeeze pouches
- Dried fruit: Raisins, cranberries, mango, pineapple, papaya
- Low-fat granola bars, breakfast bars, fig bars
- Pretzels, pita chips, snack crackers, graham crackers, animal crackers
- Mini bagels, dry cereal
- Sports drink, chews, or gels
Practice Your Pre-Match Tennis Snacks
During practice athletes should experiment with different snack options to find the items that they feel best performing on. Each athlete is unique in regard to food preferences and what they tolerate best prior to activity.
Practicing pre-match snacks in advance will allow athletes to go into competition knowing they are fueled to perform at their best.
Snacks to Limit Before a Tennis Match
When planning pre-match snacks, tennis players should limit foods that are high in protein, fat, or fiber close to the start of a match. Consuming foods high in these nutrients too close to the start of the activity may lead to GI distress during the match (1).
This includes snack foods such as:
- Dessert-type foods (ice cream, brownies, fudge)
- Fried or greasy foods
- High-fiber foods (vegetables, beans, legumes, whole grains)
In the hour before exercise, tennis players should stick to carbohydrate-rich snacks that are low in fiber. These snacks are easy to digest and will provide athletes with quick energy to fuel their bodies on the court.
Snacks for Between Tennis Sets
During a tennis game, athletes use carbohydrates for energy, thus depleting their carbohydrate stores. In addition, they lose both fluid and electrolytes in sweat.
Therefore, between sets, tennis players should focus on rehydrating with fluids and electrolytes and refueling with carbohydrates.
Tennis players can choose to rehydrate and refuel in a variety of ways.
Ideas for rehydrating and refueling include:
- Sports drinks
- Electrolyte drinks
- Fresh fruit, dried fruit, applesauce squeeze
- Pretzels, pita chips, snack crackers – Salty snacks can help replace sodium and stimulate thirst (2), thus helping encourage athletes to hydrate.
- Low-fat granola bar, fig bar, carbohydrate-based sports bar – Even eating a couple of bites can provide additional energy for the next set.
- Sport chews or gels
The carbohydrates, fluid, and electrolytes consumed between sets can help keep tennis players going strong through the end of the match.
Mini-Meals: Snacks for Between Tennis Matches
When tennis players have more time between matches, they can enjoy a larger snack or “mini-meal.” Athletes can easily create a “mini-meal” by pairing a food that is high in carbohydrates with a food that contains a moderate amount of protein.
“Mini-meal” snack ideas for between matches may include:
- Beef jerky and granola bars
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
- String cheese and fig bars
- Turkey and cheese wrap
- Greek yogurt and breakfast bars
- Trail mix with nuts, pretzels, dried fruit, and dry cereal
Along with the snack, athletes should make sure to rehydrate with water, sports drinks, or electrolyte drinks as well.
Snacks for After a Tennis Match
Following a day on the tennis court, athletes should consume snacks that can help them with meeting their recovery nutrition needs.
The three key areas athletes should consider when it comes to recovery nutrition include:
- Fluid and Electrolytes: Rehydrate to replace fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat
- Carbohydrates: Refill energy stores (carbohydrate stores) used during the activity
- Protein: Build and repair muscles
Tennis players should pack snacks to take with them that they can enjoy following a competition. This is especially important if it will be several hours until their next meal.
Quick and easy snack ideas include:
- Low-fat chocolate milk and granola bars
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich with low-fat milk
- Greek yogurt, berries, and granola
- Cottage cheese with fruit and breakfast bars
- Tuna fish (try the individual serving pouches) and whole grain crackers
- Granola bars with nut butter and low-fat milk
- Ham and cheese sandwich and 100% fruit juice
- Pita chips with hummus
- Bagel with nut butter, honey, and banana slices
- Post-workout smoothie
- Sports bar with sports drink
Chocolate Milk After a Tennis Match
Chocolate milk is a convenient recovery drink that tennis players can enjoy following a match.
Chocolate milk is 90% water, which can help athletes with rehydrating following activity. In addition, a 1-cup serving of chocolate milk provides 8 grams of complete protein and 26 grams of carbohydrates (3).
Thus, chocolate milk can help athletes with meeting their fluid, carbohydrate, and protein needs following a tennis match.
Athletes can further boost the carbohydrate content of their post-match snack by pairing the chocolate milk with granola bars, fig bars, or breakfast bars. I find this is a tasty recovery nutrition snack that most athletes enjoy.
Best Tennis Snacks for Before, During, and After a Match
You are now set with a variety of ideas for tennis snacks that athletes can enjoy before, during, and after a match. It is important for tennis players to plan ahead and pack the right snacks to keep them fueled throughout the day.
For additional sports nutrition tips for athletes, check out my blog: Grab-and-Go Lunch Ideas for Athletes.
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About the Author
Mandy is a Sports Dietitian Nutritionist in the San Antonio, TX area. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, a Licensed Athletic Trainer, and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine. Mandy has experience working with athletes at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. She believes the key to reaching one’s full potential, both in everyday life and in sports performance, relies on a healthy nutritional foundation. Learn more about the work Mandy does here.