Padel: between fashion, training and nutrition
Padel is a sport to be played in pairs, very similar to tennis (from which it derives) and particularly appreciated for its simple rules and for its ability to create aggregation between people of all ages. It is the sport of the moment : immediate and fun, it is truly within everyone's reach. The field is bordered on 4 sides by walls on which the ball can bounce, while remaining always in play, and to practice it it is sufficient to have a wooden racket, which in technical jargon is called a " shovel ". The name padel derives from the Spanish pàdel , which means paddle , a term used in the beginning to indicate the wooden rackets used to play.
The hitting ball is externally indistinguishable from a tennis ball, but actually has slightly less internal pressure to limit its bounce and allow players more control over the shot. In total there must be 4 players, and the ball can bounce only once on the floor before it can be hit: be careful, however, because the usable walls are only those of your own court, and you must avoid hitting the wire mesh and the walls of the opponent's field.
But… how demanding is this sport from a physical point of view? What does a padel match involve in practical terms? How to eat to better prepare for a match?
How much is consumed playing padel
Padel, like tennis and all "racket" sports, is an activity that is considered aerobic . It allows you to tone your body and muscles, certainly becoming one of the activities that guarantee a high calorie consumption . In reality, metabolically speaking, it is a mixed sport : in fact, different, alternating commitments are required of the body, both aerobic and anaerobic.
Sprints, beats, brakes, changes of direction: a padel match requires an important component of both strength and muscle Energy. On average, a padel player consumes between 600 and 700 kcal per hour (and we are not talking about top level players), even burning up to 1000 kcal for an hour and a half of match.
Consumption is lower than that estimated for running and swimming, but it is comparable to that of a cyclist pedaling at an average of 25 km / h. Furthermore, thanks to the sudden increases in intensity alternating with moments of recovery, due to the intermittent nature of the rhythms that govern each game, the EPOC effect (Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption) is also stimulated. This factor is the measure of the increase in oxygen consumption following intense activity, intended to satisfy the body's "oxygen debt".
What a padel player eats
Leaving aside for a moment the world of professionals, where the individual athlete is always followed by a team of experts and their nutritionist, let's try to understand together how these athletes can be able to make the leap in quality, improving and optimizing performance to prevail even on the most formidable opponents.
Thanks to the correct supply of nutrients we can in fact provide our body with everything it needs to be reactive, performing and resistant to fatigue. But it is not only important what we eat: also the when is not to be underestimated. Based on the time in which we intend to face our game, the nutritional strategy can vary, always keeping in mind some practical advice, which we list below.
- Don't forget about carbohydrates - The energy boost required to face a match is high: for this reason we must make sure that our stores of muscle glycogen (and therefore our main energy reserves) are at their maximum capacity. Carbohydrates are the main fuel available to the body, and it is good that they are always present in the main meals and snacks of these athletes.
- Beware of digestive effort - Too much fiber and protein before a match could compromise performance. So pay attention to the timing of intake and not to overdo it, so as not to make digestion slow and even more so the gastric emptying.
- Try to drink enough - Both before and after the match it is important to replenish the fluids and minerals lost through sweating. The electrolyte balance of the body must be kept constant, and especially in the case of outdoor games and in the hottest periods of the year, a solution could be to use multimineral liquid supplements.
What to favor and what to limit
After examining the 3 “basic rules” of the padel player's diet, let's understand which foods are recommended and which ones should be limited. Before highlighting any specific food, it is good to remember that playing on a full stomach is always not recommended. If digestion is in progress, blood is concentrated in the stomach to complete this process, thus failing to sufficiently supply the muscles involved in the activity.
- Whole grains - Making our diet varied by choosing whole carbohydrates, such as pasta, bread, rice, spelt, millet and buckwheat allows us to follow the Mediterranean model and have constant, slow-release energy available, without the glycemic levels being altered. sudden way.
- Banana - this much demonized fruit contains high amounts of magnesium and potassium, and can therefore help us in muscle contraction.
- Sweets - two rusks with jam, a slice of tart or some dry biscuits can be a valid option to charge us with easily usable energy, especially when more than 4 hours have passed between the last meal and the match.
- Energy bars - the bars are an excellent snack to recover energy and not weigh down the digestion, to always keep on hand for when you do not have much time available.
- Water - Essential. It is absolutely essential to replenish the liquids lost in physical effort and always having a bottle of water available must become a priority.
... and to be limited:
- Protein - not to be avoided, but portion controlled. Protein, in fact, participating in muscle synthesis, are especially useful at the end of the match, when the muscle requires amino acids for protein synthesis. Consumed in large quantities at the wrong time, they can impair performance due to digestive difficulties.
- Fats - As with Protein, fat also slows digestion in high quantities, complicating the use of energy sources.
- Vegetables - incredible but true: although they are very important to guarantee vitamins and minerals, vegetables should not be consumed before a game of padel. The Fibre present in these foods can in fact make gastric emptying difficult. Better to keep them for the meal after the match, together with the Protein.
The right meal for every moment of the match day
Below we leave some examples of ideal meals or snacks to be consumed strategically based on the time of our game.
If I play padel in the morning? Breakfast should finish at least an hour and a half before the match. It is better to choose foods rich in sugar and easily digestible: rusks with jam, seasonal fruit, puffed cereals and avoid milk. Fats and Protein in fact cause digestive heaviness.
If I play at lunchtime? I can keep a basic breakfast (like the one recommended before) or integrate and complete it. Porridge, pancakes or yogurt with granola are a good choice. But also remember the mid-morning snack, so as not to get to the game without energy: corn cakes, fresh fruit or toast.
If I play in the afternoon? If you play right after eating, think about replacing your mid-morning snack with a light lunch (a plate of pasta or rice with fruit are great alternatives). If, on the other hand, you have to wait until late afternoon, the advice is to have lunch with a more abundant complete meal, with white meat or fish, and add a snack (equivalent to that of mid-morning) even in the mid-afternoon.
If I play in the evening? All the indications given for previous meals apply, making the mid-afternoon snack more abundant, thus adding bread, chocolate and fruit.
If we want to be sure we are in top form to beat our friends or opponents, integration can also give us an edge. Below we list some plant extracts or supplements that can guarantee us the necessary support to always get the best in every match.
- Caffeine : useful in the pre-game, but always pay attention to the game time. Supplements based on microencapsulated caffeine do not cause gastric discomfort associated with the consumption of coffee in the form of a drink, but give the necessary charge to maintain concentration and reactivity . We recommend their use until the afternoon, so as not to risk that the night's rest is then affected. So no in case of a match in the evening.
- Energy gels : containing easy-to-use carbohydrates and mineral salts, these gels are highly recommended during intense matches, where constant energy is required and especially in very hot periods of the year, when sweating is even more profuse.
- Energy Bars : The perfect snack for games at lunchtime or in the afternoon, energy bars are a healthy and balanced snack that is convenient to always carry with you. Also valid as a hunger breaker or as a refill between one set and another.
- Magnesium and potassium in citrate form : magnesium is essential for muscle contraction and relaxation, contributes to normal muscle function and essential for synapse transmission . Potassium regulates neuromuscular excitability, heart rhythm, osmotic pressure, acid-base balance and water retention. If integrated in citrate form, they take on an alkalizing role. The intake is recommended for reintegration at the end of the activity.
- Creatine : amino acid derivative naturally present in our body, if taken at the end of the game it allows to obtain an ergogenic effect and a better recovery . Phosphorylated in phosphocreatine, creatine is one of the energy stores. It is therefore used as needed during rapid and intense muscle contractions.
- Boswellia and Curcuma : plants known in phytotherapy for their anti-inflammatory action , they are widely used in Ayurvedic medicine. In combination, they have a synergistic effect on the well-being of the joints under stress , which are continuously stressed in a sport such as padel.
- Chondroitin sulfate, Glucosamine sulfate and Collagen type II : these particular substances are very important for the well-being of the cartilages . Push-ups, sprints and the use of the racket can put a strain on our joints. Thanks to these molecules, joint cartilage and bones naturally regain vigor and well-being. They should be taken in periods of particular load and intensity of play, also in a preventive form to avoid injuries.
Accessibility, simplicity of play, the need to find a space for venting, sharing and fun: padel has a great hold on athletes of all ages. We cannot know if it will remain only the trend of the moment or if in the future we will see it at the Olympics, but one thing is certain: the number of fans is growing day by day and they have only one concern: being able to find a free field to play.
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