Updated: Jul 9
Tennis players of all levels tend to believe that the base of their evolution comes only from the practice they do in court and in the gym. That is only a part of it. In these environments, they will develop technically and physically. However, other factors deeply affect the performance of an athlete as nutrition, emotion and tactics and strategies knowledge.
All through my professional career, as junior and as professional, I saw those athletes, including myself, neglecting their nutrition and resting period. After an extremely hard game, more than 3 hours in court, it was not uncommon to see players order a large pizza with an ice-cold cola. Then comes the question, will the athlete's body perform to its best with this type of food? Will his muscles recover with maximum efficiency?
To the common sense, a well-balanced meal, with lots of carbs, proteins and low fat might sound right. Supplementing with large amounts of carbs during a match to refill the body with glucose and to maintain a high level of energy sounds great. However, it is not! That is a way to access a quick and inexpensive source of energy and its bad consequences go beyond the benefits.
Yet, there are more effective processes to produce energy that are not activated because of the modern nutrition. Shouldn't we ask how ancient people ate to have long lasting energy? Tribes all over the world that preserve their traditions, including the way they eat, present good athleticism with high VO2 max, even higher than some high performance athletes. Not to mention that modern diseases do not affect these tribes.
Physical condition and health come as a consequence of what they eat and of how they eat it. Low carbs ingestion, no processed foods, no sugar, no chemicals, etc. are essential for their bodies to work with their maximum potential. Even without any special training protocol. Just a diet based on protein, roots, nuts, season fruits and the natural exercise from their daily activities, hunting and gathering. From my own experience, until a complete change on my diet, I reached stagnation.
Our body is an incredible machine that will always try to protect us from toxins and undesired substances. Allergic reactions, inflammatory processes, fatigue, dizziness, nauseas, among others, are the mechanisms used by our bodies to alert and avoid sickening factors. A high performance athlete, dealing with highly toxic substances, will not work with maximum efficiency for sure, due to in-numerous chemical reactions the body will have to do just to protect himself from them. On our following posts, we will answer the million-dollar questions. What is the best diet for athletes? What kind of food should be avoided at any price for high performance athletes? We will also explain how our body works with different substances.
TEXT BY GABRIEL PIMENTEL AND PAULO CÉSAR PIMENTEL