At times, playing basketball is akin to running a marathon—running up and down the court. All of that running back and forth expends huge amounts of energy and calories, and if you aren't taking in the right nutrition, you're liable to flag in the later stages of the game, which could mean the difference between victory and defeat.
Let’s run through a basic foundation for planning healthy meals, snacks and recovery nutrition for basketball players.
Carbohydrates are the Way to Play
Just like marathon runners, basketball players need a lot of carbs in their diet—we aren't talking about donuts and candy bars either. What we’re talking about are complex carbs which can be found in whole grain pastas and breads, fruits and legumes.
Now is no time to skimp on the protein either, so lean meats such as fish, chicken and eggs should also be included on the menu to keep your muscles energized.
You should try to limit your intake of foods with high fat content, such as pork which is one of the highest fatty proteins. So skip the bacon or pork sausage for breakfast, and stick to lean meats and complex carbs to give you the speed you’ll need to keep up with everyone else on the court.
Snacking Your Way to the Basket
Although most people think snacking refers to munching on junk foods like chips and dip, candy and other frosting covered confections, snacking for athletes should be focused on complex carbs.
Healthy granola bars, fruits and vegetables, whole grain cereals either in milk or a handful out of the box and, if you have a sweet tooth, snacks with honey instead of processed sugar. Keep in mind, just because a snack appears to be healthy, doesn’t mean it’s always the best choice. It’s especially important to pay close attention to sugar content which can truly make or break a snack.
Snacks should be eaten between meals to keep your blood sugar from crashing. Try not to make a meal out of a snack-type food and you'll be doing good.
Eating Your Way to Recovery
After every practice or game, your body needs time and energy to recover. During your time on the court you should be drinking some type of electrolyte drink to keep you hydrated and fresh. But when your time on the court is done, you'll need more than electrolytes, and recovery food is the answer.
Ideally you'll want to take in your first solid food within 30 minutes of being active. Mix in some protein and carbs, like a peanut butter and banana sandwich, and you can wash that down with some low-fat chocolate milk.
A big meal, like dinner, should follow in about three hours or so. For this meal, you'll want to include the entire spectrum of the food pyramid including a lean protein to help your muscles rebuild, along with lots of green leafy vegetables, healthy fats and starches, such as ¼ of an avocado and a baked sweet potato.
Although we can’t recommend a complete nutrition plan in the span of this article, following the basic foundation of this nutritional guide can help you feel and perform your best, every time you play.
We love basketball as much as you do at SquadLocker. You can work the site just like you work the floor, creating your own store for you and your team to get their own gear and equipment. At SquadLocker you will find everything you need to outfit your basketball team from jerseys to t-shirts, and you can even use your own logo. So get to it, because the name of the game is basketball and SquadLocker every time.