I play at local table tennis club here in town and I am also trying to promote table tennis play at work. Recently I have received question about what it takes to play table tennis in terms of calories and health/nutrition context. I tried to find info online but not with a lot of success. Can you point me into right direction?
The problem with trying to gauge the calories burned and nutritional needs for table tennis is that there are so many levels of activity possible when playing ping-pong. You can stand at the table and hardly burn any calories at all, through to moderate activity which would burn quite a few and finally up to advanced play which burns a lot!
There isn't much around for table tennis and burning calories on the web, but I think substituting tennis would probably be not far off for intermediate and advanced play - anywhere from 400-600 calories per hour. At beginning level it's probably more like a easy walk - say 200-250 calories an hour. I had a look at the calorie counter at the About.com Exercise website, which seems a good rough guide - although I think the estimate for Ping-Pong is probably more for recreational play than advanced play!
Also keep in mind that playing matches is different to training for table tennis. Matches tend to have frequent short breaks between points as players regroup and plan the next point. In training, things can be much more aerobic since you are generally performing a drill of some sort where the need to pause between points to plan your strategy is lessened.
Nutritionally, I don't think table tennis is much different from any other sports. Up to intermediate level you probably don't need to worry about your diet or supplementation too much, since you aren't pushing your body too hard. A good balanced diet should do the job. As you move up into the advanced and elite ranges nutrition becomes more of a factor, since recovery becomes more and more important, and any flaws in your diet will have a detrimental effect on your recovery ability, which will in turn affect your ability to train hard. There's some good info on exercise and nutrition on the Exercise site at About.com, specifically the pages on nutrition resources, which are well worth checking out.