Nutrition in tennis, and indeed in sports generally, is becoming increasingly important. In order to clarify some ideas that many of us have no doubt heard on the news or the internet, we spoke to Dr. Luca Giorleo, a nutritionist, biologist and food educator. We discussed several topics, ranging from proper nutrition to the relationship between nutrition and sport.
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Here the 4 questions we asked to Dr. Giorleo
1. There is a huge increase in the number of diets and nutritional philosophies being promoted by both qualified and unqualified individuals. For those who do not have the proper training, making the right choice is far from easy. What should our choices be based on? And what about vegetarian and vegan diets? Should we focus on nutritional models for both normal life and when engaging in our sporting activities?
2. The Paleo diet operates on the assumption that since man has evolved for hundreds of thousands of years eating fruit, vegetables, uncooked meat and fish, we should still be doing that. The idea is that agriculture and breeding has somehow corrupted us. In a relatively short amount of time, it is argued, we had to quickly get used to a new food style which included agricultural products (cereals, legumes, etc.) and products resulting from breeding (fatter meats, milk, etc.). Yet, according to the concepts of the Mediterranean Diet, the energy we need must derive in large part from complex carbohydrates. What, then, is the error (if we can speak of an error) of the Paleolithic diet? Is there any connection between the Mediterranean diet and the increase in cases of sensitivity to gluten?
3. Nutrition and sport: what does the sportsman need, at the food level, compared to a “normal” subject?
4. Nutritional focus in tennis is a relatively recent phenomenon. It is a sport in which, depending on your level of play, energy expenditure can be very different. Yet the use of supplements (both energy and minerals) is very common at all levels. Are they really that important, or is their use overrated and exaggerated? What are the most frequent mistakes made by players when it comes to their diets? What can be done to improve their performance?