Eat well for padel – and for general health

3 min. reading
Published on 10/17/23

“People think we should do sport and have a healthy lifestyle for aesthetic benefits. While this is true, the real advantage is the prevention of invisible illnesses.”

The words of Rosa Rullán, a dietician-nutritionist with an eye for vegetarian diets and digestive pathologies, and her passion is going beneath the surface to nourish inscrutable body processes. This is why she stresses that there are huge advantages for the entire body when someone starts – or restarts – practising sport and changes diet accordingly: “The principal benefit of regular exercise allied to an appropriate diet is to reduce the risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases and some forms of cancer, as well as improving the immune system, and for women it reduces the risk of osteoporosis. In short, it improves your quality of life.”

As the popularity of padel increases worldwide, ever more people are attracted to this inclusive sport, getting on court at different ages and stages of their life. Rosa believes it is important to support our bodies with a balanced diet when we go back to playing sports regularly, especially if there has been a prolonged period of physical inactivity. “Eating in a healthy way is how you avoid having a sudden drop in energy because of your new sporting efforts,” she says, “and it’s also essential for preventing injuries".

“We especially need to consider the food we eat before and after playing padel. Before playing, a good balance of carbohydrates and proteins is important: a chicken salad or an avocado sandwich is a good option, for example. After playing, we need more proteins to give our muscles what they need for the recovery process. Nobody wants to feel weaker because of their physical activities! So healthy proteins like lean meat, dairy products, eggs and nuts are a good choice, or even a chicken soup with pasta.”

Vegetarian and vegan diets

Climate change and the need to respect the environment are convincing many people to transform their diets to vegetarian and vegan. There are different views on how healthy this is, indeed an academic study that came out in 2022 suggested that vegetarian women are more likely to fracture hips later in life because of their diet choices – an issue that could raise concern, especially when practising sport.

However, according to Rosa, there is no reason that even professional athletes cannot switch to an entirely vegan lifestyle, provided they get some initial support to plan their dietary changes. “A lot of vegan food is highly processed, and processed food is never good for your health,” she says. “So it is important to remind ourselves that eating vegan is not a healthy choice per se. We always need to stay away from food that is not natural and from sugary drinks.”

She says it’s legitimate to replace meat and fish – which provide amino acids and help our muscles to recover after an intense sport session – with natural legumes (pulses), tofu and tempeh (an Indonesian cake made from soy beans). Walnuts can replace Omega 3 while vitamin B12 needs to be replaced with specific supplements. And, finally, “make sure to get some sun for Vitamin D!”

“Anyone can have a guilty pleasure now and then”

A prescription of sunshine encapsulates Rosa’s life philosophy: “A healthy lifestyle is mostly about embracing life and appreciating its beauty,” she says. “What is the point of doing something for ourselves if we do not enjoy every step along the way?

“The first thing to achieve this,” she says, “is to avoid negative feelings about a decision to start a new diet or a new sport. We need to stay clear of obsessions. Anyone can have some cake or a guilty pleasure now and then. Because ultimately what we want to achieve with sport and taking care of our bodies, is to enhance our quality of life. So we have to be happy and satisfied with ourselves.”

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