Most athletes know that they need protein to keep their bodies strong and promote muscle growth, but figuring out just how much protein to consume can be difficult. Differences abound between the various sports and the people who play them, and as a result, the guidelines regarding protein consumption tend to vary as well. That said, there are certain generalizations you can make regarding the protein requirements of those who play a given sport, such as tennis, which can make it easier to plan meals and meet the needs of your body after a long match. So, how much protein does a tennis player need, and are there any other ways they can provide their body with effective nutritional support? To find out, keep reading as the team at aminoVITAL® explains.
Determining How Much Protein You Need as a Tennis Player
Although people who aren’t very active can often get all the protein their bodies need without much effort, athletes generally need to purposefully maintain a high-protein diet, either by selecting sources of lean protein to incorporate into meals or adding supplements to their routine. How much protein a particular tennis player needs will depend on a number of factors, however, namely the person’s size, muscle mass, type of exercise, and level of activity.
As a rule of thumb, athletes who engage in strength or weight training tend to need a bit more protein than endurance athletes like runners1. Because tennis is a sport that primarily focuses on endurance with a bit of strength mixed in, a tennis player doesn’t need as much protein as a bodybuilder, but they probably need more than a cyclist. Broadly speaking, endurance athletes should aim to consume at least 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day, while weightlifters should look to get as much as 1.7 grams per kilogram daily1.
If we assume that tennis falls somewhere in the middle of this spectrum, a good average daily allowance of protein for a tennis player might be about 1.4 or 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For a tennis player who weighs about 160 pounds, this rule of thumb would translate to between 100 and 110 grams of protein every day.
Why Tennis Players Need Plenty of Protein
When a person engages in any kind of strenuous physical activity, they damage their muscles in the process. This happens for two reasons: because the strain of moving and lifting can cause tears in muscle tissue and because the body may be forced to break down muscle cells to use their components as fuel. Protein can address each of these issues for tennis players and other athletes by providing the resources – amino acids, more specifically – the body needs to counteract each effect.
Of the amino acids in protein, those with the most direct impact on muscle health during and after a tennis match are the BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Each serves a specific purpose when consumed as part of protein:
- Leucine helps trigger the growth of new muscle tissue, increasing strength and promoting healing after playing tennis.
- Isoleucine helps keep your energy up during a long match by promoting the flow of glucose (the body’s main form of fuel) into muscle cells.
- Valine works to protect your muscles from damage as you play tennis, reducing the amount of healing that must take place and limiting soreness, too.
By eating a meal that’s high in protein or ingesting a protein supplement immediately following a match, tennis players can receive the benefits listed above (among others), but without adequate amounts of each substance, the processes they’re linked to may be limited. In other words, recognizing how much protein you, as a tennis player, needs and meeting that intake requirement is important to see the best possible benefits of exercise.
How to Get Enough Protein as a Tennis Player
While most people are familiar with meat as a source of protein, there are a variety of other foods and products that can provide this critical macronutrient as well. The following are some foods that can help tennis players get enough protein:
- Dairy products, such as yogurt, cheese, or milk
- Nuts, such as almonds
- Peanut butter
- Fish, such as tuna
In addition to incorporating the foods listed above into your diet, you may also want to try a protein shake, as they can help tennis players get significant amounts of protein quickly and easily. If you’d prefer a product that’s lower in calories and sugar, however, you may want to consider amino acid supplements as an alternative.
These products offer tennis players the same BCAAs found in whole protein, plus glutamine and arginine, and they often come with electrolytes and vitamins as well. Plus, all of these nutrients come in a form that kicks in much more quickly than whey protein, and they’re very lean as well; for instance, the Action mid-workout mix from aminoVITAL® has only 15 calories and no sugar whatsoever. Just add a BCAA supplement to a bottle of water and enjoy it during a tennis match for a boost of energy or down one after the last game has been won for a faster recovery and improved gains.
Try BCAAs for Tennis Players Instead of Protein Supplements
No matter how often or how competitively you play, support your performance on the court and your results off it with a BCAA supplement from aminoVITAL®. To learn more about how these powerful products can improve your tennis game, visit us online or call us today at (888) 264-6673.