Tennis has definitely been the standout sport of the pandemic. While a number of other forms of group fitness were aptly nixed for safety reasons, tennis has social distancing built right into it, drawing people to the game who had never even picked up a racket before.
Of course, engaging in a rally is business as usual for Sloane Stephens. The professional tennis player became the youngest in the top 100 when she was 18 and she has been downright *crushing it* in the decade since—including winning the U.S. Open in 2017.
As with any sport, training doesn’t happen just on the court or the gym; what you eat matters, too. Stephens says she doesn’t have a lot of “rules” or restrictions when it comes to eating; mostly she just goes for whatever it is she’s craving. “The main thing is that I try to eat a lot of roughage,” she says. “When I was a kid, I didn’t like salads, but as I’ve gotten older I try to have something green with every meal.” Stephens says that, for her, she just feels better when she’s getting her fiber in.
Curious what an average day of eating looks like for a professional tennis player? Here, Stephens reveals what she likes to eat for every meal. It’s not meant to be seen as something to copy—everyone’s dietary needs are different—it’s just a voyeuristic look into the food life of a professional athlete.
Keep reading to see professional tennis player Sloane Stephens’s food diary.
Stephens says that her mornings are consistently hectic because she has to get to practice, so she needs a breakfast that’s ready ASAP. Her main go-to is Greek yogurt. “I’ll put some fruit, granola, and honey on top to make it a little fancy,” she says. The Greek yogurt serves as the main protein for her meal while the fruit and granola are both full of heart-healthy fiber. When she’s not feeling yogurt, she’ll change it up by making plain oatmeal and tossing raisins on top.
As she’s getting ready in the morning, Stephens says she drinks a lot of water so that she’s had plenty to drink before her practice starts. That being said, her method of hydration is thoughtful (read: no chugging here). Ever drink a ton of water right before working out? Not fun. Gradually hydrating, she says, prevents having a belly full of sloshing water later. She’s also a big fan of Hydrant (which she’s an ambassador for) because it adds flavor and extra benefits to her glass.
Spending hours perfecting her tennis game means having healthy, energy-boosting snacks handy is a must. Stephens says her morning practice is typically two hours, and then she’ll get a break before doing another hour-and-a-half of fitness. “I’m a big snacker,” she says. One snack you’ll almost always find in her gym bag is a Quantum protein bar ($3.99). “I’ll also sometimes cut up fruit, like pineapple, strawberries, green apple, or throw a banana in there,” she says. And of course she’ll hydrate with more water, too.
When it comes to lunch, Stephens says that what she eats depends on how much time she has. On days when her practice schedule is super busy, she’ll make a quick smoothie before getting back to work. But on days when she has a little more time, she loves noshing on homemade salmon and a salad. “I cook my salmon with lots of lemon juice and add plenty of avocado [to the salad],” she says. “I probably eat that for lunch three to four times a week. Living in Florida, I’m lucky to be able to get fresh fish really easily.”
On days when she does only have time for a smoothie, Stephens says she packs it with protein to make sure it’s actually satisfying enough to serve as a standalone meal. “I’ll make a smoothie with oat milk, peanut butter, honey, and vanilla protein powder,” she says. “It’s so delicious that it seriously tastes like dessert.”
With all her training done, dinnertime is a bit more relaxed for Stephens. Right now she says that she’s really enjoying Greek cuisine, and that a big Greek-style salad with lamb chops is her go-to whenever she’s eating out and spots it on the menu. She also loves a simple, comforting meal like chicken and veggies. “I’m a picky eater, so I keep it pretty basic,” she says.
Stephens says she isn’t a big dessert person, but there is one sweet she gets a craving for pretty often: Cheesecake Factory cheesecake. “I’ve been doing a lot of emotional comfort eating and there’s a Cheesecake Factory right by my house,” she says. “At one point during the pandemic I was getting a slice of cheesecake, like, three times a week.”
Hey, if you’re going to have a slice of cheesecake, you might as well have a slice of cheesecake, right?
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