Food for Thought: Don't Get Fooled by the Afterburn Myth

by: Cynthia Sass | December 16, 2011

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Email
Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Email

As a sports nutritionist who works with professional and competitive athletes, including tennis players, I’m always on the lookout for tips and tricks that give my clients an edge. An in my 10-plus years of practice, not a week goes by that we don’t learn more about how particular foods and nutrients help the body operate like a well-oiled machine. Each one of your body’s 100 trillion cells relies solely on what you eat and drink to fuel your performance and help you recover. And while sports nutrition isn’t an exact science, there are plenty of tried and true techniques every tennis player should know.

The 20 Things You Need to Know About Nutrition

8. Don't Get Fooled by the Afterburn Myth
While it’s true that you do torch more calories in the hours after a workout, it may be far less than you think. In fact, it can account for as few as 50 calories. If your goal is to lean down, you can eat more on the days you train hard, but use what I call the 50/50 principle—add about half the calories you burn during exercise to your usual intake, preferably about 50 percent before to help fuel the activity, and 50 percent after, for recovery. For example, an hour of singles burns 500 calories (for 150-pound person), which means you can “spend” an extra 125 calories both before and after your court time. That’s the amount in one slice of whole grain bread spread with one tablespoon of natural peanut butter before, and a half cup each of non-fat Greek yogurt and sliced strawberries topped with a tablespoon of sliced almonds after.


1. Your Diet Impacts Your Brain Function
2. The Right Breakfast Fights Hunger All Day
3. Food Can Fight Pain
4. Don't Run on Empty
5. Sleep Matters ... A Lot
6. Omega-3s Are Beyond Essential
7. Milk Does More Than Double Duty
8. Don't Get Fooled by the Afterburn Myth
9. Organic Food is Worth the Extra Money
10. Alcohol May Weaken Muscle
11. Relying on the Sun for Vitamin D May Be a Mistake
12. Spices are a Secret Weapon
13. Chocolate is a Key Superfood
14. Buyer Beware When it Comes to Supplements
15. A Little Vitamin C Makes a Big Difference
16. Variety Trumps Quantity for Fruits & Veggies
17. Drinking Water May Help You Lose Weight
18. Bacteria Are Critical to Your Health
19. Calcium Isn't Just for Strong Bones
20. Let an Expert Personalize Your Plan

Originally published in the January/February 2012 issue of TENNIS.

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Email

More Stories

#MondayMotivation: Don't fear failure

Don't be afraid to pursue—and achieve—your dreams, says coach Nick Bollettieri.

#MondayMotivation: Nick Bollettieri on handling adverse conditions

No matter the situation, always stay relaxed, calm and cool.

#MondayMotivation: Nick Bollettieri on how to handle critics

Don't argue with them—rather, thank them and take action.