Two-time Grand Slam winner, Andy Murray is well-known for his strict health regime. In order to forge a successful career, eating the right foods is of paramount importance and can make the difference between winning and losing. Like many tennis players, the Scotsman sustains himself on an unremarkable combination of fish, rice, vegetables, potatoes and steak.
However, during a recent Davis Cup victory of the United States, the team captain was seen tucking into large quantities of sushi – in fact he’s been known to consume up to 50 portions a day. His choice of meal raised a few eye-brows among the media and crowd, as did his skilful use of chopsticks. Sushi isn’t exactly the first dish that comes to mind when we think of the kinds of foods an athlete requires, in order to maintain such high levels of fitness.
But Sushi is actually extremely effective at replenishing tired muscles. The combination of carbohydrates and protein really help a tennis player’s body recover between matches. According to various fitness coaches, the rice found in sushi contains glycogen which helps the muscles and the liver during a process known as the ‘glycaemic window’. This window, which lasts approximately one hour after a match, is the optimum time for a tennis player to eat. And considering the physicality of Murray’s playing style, it’s particularly important that he replaces all the lost protein.
Considering the amount of travelling Murray does, finding a good sushi restaurant can be rather challenging for his team. Although it’s easy to find sushi in Central London other world destinations aren’t blessed with many Japanese restaurants or outlets. So ‘Team Murray’ often stores hand-made sushi in ice coolers as a precaution.
There are also other players who’ve taken to eaten one of Japan’s favourite foods including Serena Williams – baseball star Alex Rodriguez is also partial to sushi. And its benefits have recently been recognised by the Australian Institute of Sport who has recommended sushi to all its athletes.
Most types of cooked fish used with sushi are low in calories and fat and provide numerous nutrients. Care does need to be taken however regarding the choice of side items such as soy sauce – these can be high in sodium and calories. Cardiovascular health can also be improved thanks to certain oils found in the fish. Things like salmon, sardines and mackerel are known to contain high levels of EPA and DHA omega-3 fats. Vitamin E is also present which is fat-soluble and acts as a rather effective antioxidant. This serves to maintain the immune system and guard against heart-disease.
Brown rice seems to have more benefits than white. In fact it’s an excellent source of the ant-oxidant, manganese as well as minerals such as selenium and magnesium. The latter two can help repair damaged cells and ward off osteoporosis respectively. Short-grain varieties of brown rice are more beneficial for those looking for healthier options and are lower in calories.