What to Eat to Fuel Your Next Pickleball Session, According to a Sports Nutritionist

Sip and snack on these foods before, during and after.

July 07, 2023


Photo by: RichLegg/Getty Images

RichLegg/Getty Images

Pickleball paddle passion is exploding in popularity. This cardio-heavy sport has the explosiveness of tennis and the hand-eye coordination of ping-pong. Those short bursts of momentum need to be fueled! Here’s what to eat (and drink) during your next pickleball session.

Hashbrown Omelet

Hashbrown Omelet

Photo by: Teri Lyn Fisher

Teri Lyn Fisher

What to Eat Before Pickleball

The best choices for pre-paddle meals depend on what time of day you are playing. If you have three to four hours before being active, have a balanced meal such as a vegetable omelet with whole grain toast, or salmon with stir-fried vegetables and brown rice. When you have less time to digest before playing – such as before an early morning match – make sure to drink fluids and easily digestible calories like a banana, rice cakes with a light spread of peanut butter or a small bowl of oatmeal.

What to Eat During Pickleball

If pickleball play lasts less than 60 minutes, you likely only need to sip on some water in between sets. For longer playing time, or on hot and humid days, players may benefit from a sports drink to provide additional fuel, fluid and electrolytes. If a tournament is in your future, take in some quick digesting calories in between games like pretzels, an applesauce pouch or a few handfuls of a lower-fiber cereal. And don’t forget to drink plenty of fluids since you may be sweating extra.

Food Network Kitchen’s Healthy Cherry Almond Oatmeal Smoothie for Year of Oats/Drunk Pies/Diners, as seen on Food Network.


Food Network Kitchen’s Healthy Cherry Almond Oatmeal Smoothie for Year of Oats/Drunk Pies/Diners, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Renee Comet, 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

What to Eat After Pickleball

The goal of post exercise fueling is to replenish what the body expended during exercise and to provide the required nutrients to support tired muscles and depleted energy stores. Seek out protein and healthy carbohydrates.

Fill your plate with approximately 35 percent healthy carbohydrates such as bread, rice or potatoes; 25 percent lean protein from chicken, fish, eggs or tofu; and the remaining 50 percent with fruits and/or vegetables for a complete and balanced recovery meal.

Eggs with roasted potatoes and salad, a sandwich piled high with vegetables or even a smoothie made with fruit, oats and protein powder can check all the required recovery boxes. If a meal is not convenient following the workout, swig on a ready-to-drink protein shake or a protein-rich bar to sustain you until a more balanced meal.

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