Playing tennis on a full stomach isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially after a feast like Thanksgiving. To help ease the pain we put together a list of items that’ll help get you back on the court after feeling like a stuffed turkey.
1. Lightweight Shoes: Your legs already feel like lead after the Thanksgiving meal, the last thing you want to do is put any more weight on your feet.
Have you ever been in the middle of match and feel like you are losing that pep in your step? And no matter how much water or how many sports drinks you consume, nothing seems to work? Well, GU might be the answer for you. GU has an assortment of gels, chews and mixes that are meant to help fuel your body and give you superior energy and provide maximum recovery.
I will start with the original GU product, GU Energy Gel. This goo (GU)-like substance comes in small packs that are easily stored in a pocket of a tennis bag and are available in a variety of flavors, including chocolate, lemon, orange and strawberry banana. These little “shots” of energy contain amino acids, antioxidants, chamomile and ginger. It is recommended to consume one packet 15 minutes before activity and then one energy gel pack every 30-45 minutes after if needed. The playtesting team has a drawer of these gels, and whenever anyone needs a pick-me-up, the GU Energy Gel is definitely utilized. My recommendation is to drink lots of water with this product and to test it in practice before using it in a match situation to see how your body reacts.
My favorite of the GU products are the GU Energy Chomps. These little bites are the chewable version of the gel and taste like candy to me. The small packs will fuel between one-and-a-half hours and two hours of activity and come in flavors such as orange, strawberry and watermelon. My preference in flavors is watermelon; it tastes like a Starburst or Jolly Rancher. Each Chomp contains amino acids, vitamins, complex and simple carbs, sodium and potassium. I like the bite-size portions. During one of my matches, at the beginning of the second set I was lacking a little energy, so during a change over, I opened a package of Chomps and popped two in my mouth. As I went back onto the court, I could feel my energy returning. Throughout the match, on changeovers and when in need of energy, I would simply eat two or three Chomps and be ready to get back on the court. My one word of wisdom is to be prepared, these Chomps are very chewy.
When you are sweating out on the court, you need to replace all the electrolytes you are losing. The GU Brew Electrolyte Canister fulfills this need with its easy-on-the-stomach formula. Available in two flavors, orange and lemon lime, the Brew Electrolyte replacement drink is not too sweet or sugary tasting. I tried the lemon lime flavor, and it was similar to Gatorade but not too overwhelming. The directions are simple: Just fill a 20-ounce water bottle half way, put in a scoop or two, shake until dissolved, top off the bottle with water and shake well. You can also customize the taste and strength by how much you scoop in. In addition to sodium, the brew contains complex and simple carbs. It’s also gluten and dairy free.
The best thing to do when you are finished with a hard workout or match is to replace what you have lost. With an option of two flavors, orange pineapple and strawberry watermelon, the GU Brew Recovery mix helps you quickly replenish energy and rebuild muscles. It’s packed with protein, amino acids, carbs and vitamins — all premium quality ingredients that are good for the body. I did find that the brew was a little bit hard to mix, I had to shake it a lot to get all the clumps to dissolve. The taste was on the sweeter side when I tried the strawberry watermelon flavor, and the smell was a little on the medicinal side. Make sure to drink the mix with 16-24 ounces of water.
Have you tried any GU products?
I weighed 195 lbs at the end of my senior year in High School and had a body fat percentage of around 28% (based on bioelectrical impedance evaluations in PE). I was playing 2-3 hours of tennis a day 7 days a week and I still had problems losing weight.
After my first year of college, I lost 40 lbs and went the opposite direction to most of my freshman colleagues. I’d say the biggest factor for the weight loss was the fact that I had declared Nutrition as my major and was taking my first year courses.
Before I started taking those classes I couldn’t even tell you how to read a Nutrition label, let alone figure out why if I was so active, would I be so overweight. If I could, I’d make every American enroll in one basic Nutrition class; knowledge is a great motivator, aside from being an invaluable tool. After the introductory class, nutrition labels were transformed from ignored puzzles to prized schematics. Building a good diet and knowing what nutrients to minimize and what to stay away from became as easy as color by number. I supplemented my new diet with frequent visits to the gym, mixing aerobics with weight training and eating smaller meals/snacks more frequently; it’s like the fat melted off.
After I graduated, I started working full-time and even though I haven’t gained too much weight (12 lbs in 2 years), I feel (and look) more out of shape and less healthy than when I was in school. There is a stark difference between being a student, simultaneously working part-time and working a full-time job and what that does to your motivation.
Being a student while working part-time gives you more flexibility with your schedule and affords the opportunity to utilize awkwardly timed breaks for the gym or to run errands and shop for meals. Hitting the gym for an hour was convenient and easy to do in between classes or after work or studying. If work takes up 8-9 hours of your day, you have to find the catalyst to push yourself to exercise, to go to the store and plan out your meals with the rest of your waking hours. If there’s a farmer’s market in your area, that’s miles better than any grocery store (maybe not in selection, but in quality and freshness).
The socializing that’s inherent in most farmers markets makes the shopping process more of an activity as opposed to a chore, and I found that it was easier to base recipes/cook meals from whatever fresh ingredients I had on hand.
My last year in college I was in the best shape of my life; I was playing tennis three to four times per week and going to the gym on my off-days (and sometimes after my hit). My body fat went down to about 11 percent (Hydrostatic weighing and bioelectrical impedance), and I was weighing in at about 160 lbs (height-5’11″).
Most days I made all three meals for myself and when I did go out I tried my best to go with the health conscious decisions. This was the year I won my first singles tournament. Granted, it wasn’t a huge draw but the point remains: I was playing better than I ever had because I knew that my speed and strength outmatched my opponents’. The confidence that emanated from my increased fitness only made my shots and decisions that much more purposeful and merciless.
I can admit at end of a long day, nothing sounds better than going home, ordering some Thai or Chinese food, sinking into the couch in front of the television and letting the stresses of the day melt from my brain. But I’ve realized (not only in theory but also in practice) that if I can find the dedication to work out, the energy gain comes after — and it’s soooo worth it. The ends justify the means by leaps and bounds. You might lose an hour of sleep per day to the torture chamber that is the conventional gym, but when you’re flexing your abs on the beach that hour per day will seem priceless. You can’t let apathy for your health mix with the ease of doing nothing, it’s the recipe for Jelly rolls. Dig deep, it’s there- the drive, the desire to live a more healthful life, I believe it’s in all of us even if it’s miniscule and the key is to find it and feed it.