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Nutrition and Pickleball

If you don’t have the right kind of food, or not enough food before or during a pickleball match, you could fatigue too quickly and end up making unnecessary errors. According to the USAPA, in a 30-minute pickleball match a player can burn between 300 and 400 calories and even more if they are playing aggressively. That’s a lot of calories if you think of how many games you might play in an all-day tournament. Good nutrition is very important to keep the body fueled during these times.

Good nutrition includes good-quality, healthy foods that are made up of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, water and electrolytes. Proteins include chicken, fish, turkey, beef, eggs, dairy and soy. Fats include oils such as olive, safflower, fish, and flax seed, and butter. Carbohydrates include fruit, vegetables and grains. These are only examples and are not an all-inclusive list.

Also, proper hydration with water and electrolytes is also essential to keep the body working well through your pickleball matches. Our bodies can sweat up to 20 ounces of water per match, so drinking 8-10 eight-ounce glasses of water throughout the day is very important to avoid cramping up during a match. On top
of the recommended amount of water to drink, it is important to get some electrolytes in your body as well. This usually comes in some liquid form like Gatorade or PowerAde. These will replenish your electrolytes and minerals, which are depleted during a match when we sweat.

I am sure you have heard the saying, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Eating a good well-balanced breakfast is essential to starting your day off with enough nutrients to sustain you until your next meal. A well-balanced breakfast could include, but is not limited to, whole-grain breads and English muffins, such as Ezekiel bread or Udi bread, and eggs, fruit or a whole-grain cereal.

Since everyone is different as far as the amount of food and calories they need normally for a given day, on days you are playing pickleball it would be good to try eating different kinds of foods to see what works for you. One time eat more protein and see how your body feels during and after playing. The next time try increasing only your carbohydrates. If you do this while practicing or playing for fun, you will get to know what foods work best for you when it gets to tournament time. When playing in a tournament make sure you bring enough food and drink to sustain you for the whole time. In between matches drink lots of fluids. Besides electrolyte drinks, people also eat bananas, which have sugar and more importantly potassium to prevent cramping of muscles during and after playing. There are also foods that would be good to avoid on pickleball days such as alcohol, spicy foods and, of course, overeating. Then when it is time to play in a tournament, you will have your recipe for at least your nutritional success. Your pickleball success comes from hours of drills and playing time.

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Reference: USA Pickleball Association Facebook page September 10, 2014 Dr. Sean Diamond is a chiropractor and nutritionist who practices in Monroe, CT. He and his wife, Dee, are pickleball ambassadors for the city of Milford, CT, where they have run an indoor/outdoor pickleball program for the last three years. If you would like to know more about Dr. Diamond, you can go to his website Diamondchiropracticct.com.

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