With repeated sprinting and jumping and short periods of rest, basketball is a strenuous sport. While physical training and practice are an important part of game preparation, so is the diet. If one wants to run faster and jump higher, one needs to feed the muscles right. A basketball player’s meal plan should include a wide variety of nutritious foods that helps meet their heavy carb needs while providing enough protein to build and maintain muscle.
Basketball Diet Basics
A basketball player’s diet is high in carbs and low in fat. Most carbs should come from healthy foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and milk to maximize vitamin and mineral intake. Lean red meat, skinless poultry, seafood or beans can help meet the daily protein needs. For heart health, include healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds. Aim to eat five to seven times throughout the day.
Morning Meals and Snacks
When training hard and heavy, it’s important to stay fueled throughout the day. A healthy high-carb breakfast meal to start the day right might include a whole-wheat bagel with scrambled eggs, with a banana and a cup of low-fat milk. To keep energy levels up for those hard-working muscles, eat a snack a few hours after breakfast, such as a bowl of whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk or a cup of low-fat yogurt with an orange.
Afternoon Meals and Snacks
If the game or practice is three to four hours away, eat a lunch meal that is high in carbs and includes some protein. For example, try whole-wheat pasta mixed with broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and shrimp with low-fat Parmesan cheese and a cup of orange juice. One to two hours before practice or a game, eat a low-fat, high-carb snack to get through, such as whole-wheat bread with jam or a banana with low-fat milk.
Dinner: Eating for Recovery
What one eats after games and practice is as important as what one eats before. To promote muscle healing and recovery, eat a snack that contains carbs, protein and fat within 30 minutes of finishing up, such as an apple with peanut butter or a cup of low-fat chocolate milk. Eat a healthy dinner meal three to four hours later to continue to replenish energy stores and build and repair muscle. A healthy dinner meal for a basketball player might include grilled chicken with a large baked potato, peas, tossed salad and a glass of low-fat milk.