In recent years, sports nutrition has become a hot topic with all kinds of diets, health supplements and eating plans hitting the headlines as the top athletes endorse them. Yet despite the advances in sports nutrition, one type of food remains constant – and that’s fruit.
Many types of fruit are beneficial: for example, citrus fruits such as oranges, clementines and grapefruits provide vitamin C; berries including blackberries, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries contain antioxidants.
Benefits of Bananas
There’s one fruit that you can guarantee all tennis players will endorse and that’s the banana. The humble banana is considered to be the fruit that has everything because it contains the full package of nutrients and minerals.
Although the world’s number one men’s singles player, Andy Murray, expressed a preference for peaches and plums – calling bananas a ‘pathetic’ fruit because they weren’t juicy and got squashed in his bag – he is still seen eating them courtside.
You simply can’t escape bananas when watching a tennis match, particularly at Murray’s level. When asked why he ate bananas if he disliked them so much, Murray replied he found them ‘useful’, particularly during long matches because of their benefits.
High in potassium, they have the power to replace some of the nutrients lost during long baseline rallies, providing extra energy without lying heavily on the stomach or causing bloating.
They also contain three essential carbohydrates: glucose, fructose and sucrose. Glucose and fructose boost your energy while sucrose metabolises the glucose and fructose molecules. The presence of all three sugars provides sustained energy for your body.
Tennis players’ love affair with bananas is by no means a modern phenomenon. Even back in the 1960s, Australian Ken Rosewall could often be seen eating them and in the 1970s, John McEnroe’s coach used to keep a whole bucket of bananas courtside during training.
In 1982, Czech tennis legend, Martina Navratilova, went on an astounding winning streak after her nutritionist, Robert Haas, created a low-fat, high-carb diet for her – comprising a lot of pasta and bananas. She went on to win 102 of her next 104 matches.
Raw Vegan Diet
In recent years, American seven-times Grand Slam winner, Venus Williams, revealed she had switched to a raw vegan food diet in 2012 after her continued joint inflammation was diagnosed as Sjogren’s syndrome – an incurable immune system disease.
Traditionally, vegan diets include plenty of fruit such as apples, avocados, bananas, berries, mango, melon, peaches, strawberries and raspberries. These can be made into a variety of dishes, desserts and smoothies to ensure a balanced diet that meets nutritional needs.
Williams revealed she felt better almost immediately on her new diet, with her health improving and her return to a positive state of mind – following years of fear as her health deteriorated.