Wimbledon, the world’s oldest tennis tournament, starts this week and fans will be lining up not only to cheer on their favorite players, but also to get a bowlful of the event’s famous strawberries and cream. A Wimbledon tradition, it is estimated that more than 190,000 portions of Strawberries and Cream will be served throughout the tournament. If you can’t make it across the pond, no worries. Pick up fresh strawberries and real cream from your local grocery and serve some up at home!
Speaking of tennis food, what the players eat is of utmost importance. It is a demanding sport, requiring both aerobic and anaerobic conditioning. Aerobic conditioning, or the training of the heart and lungs to pump blood efficiently for long periods of time, is important for sustaining long matches of mostly lateral movement. Anaerobic conditioning is important for creating quick bursts of power for short periods of time, which is needed for strong forehand and backhand swings. Singles matches can last 2 to 4 hours. In 2010, the longest tennis match ever occurred at Wimbledon, lasting 11 hours and five minutes. Wow!
Thirty minutes to an hour before matches, players should eat carbohydrate-containing foods. Consuming carbohydrate-containing foods and fluids during a match is also key for maintaining optimal performance. Athletes should drink water or carbohydrate-containing beverages every 10 to 15 minutes, along with a snack, like fruit, pretzels, or granola bar, if possible. For recovery, consuming protein with carbohydrates, such as chocolate milk, within an hour after exercise is necessary to stop muscle breakdown and encourage muscle protein synthesis.
Smoothies are the perfect way to pair dairy with fruits and vegetables, which decrease post-exercise inflammation. Sip on this Strawberry Yogurt Smoothie after your next match or workout to refuel your body while enjoying the flavors of the traditional Wimbledon dessert.
Jill Merkel is a Registered Dietitian specializing in sports nutrition and women’s wellness. She is the owner of Jill Merkel RD Nutrition Coaching & Consulting, based in Nashville, TN. In her free time, you’ll find her running, reading or traveling.