It is important for basketball players to eat well every day – not just on game days, or before a carnival. The foods and fluids consumed by Basketball players of any age can have a big impact on their ability to train, play and recovery time.
During competition season, basketball players have a very rigorous training routine and schedule. They will train and play anywhere from a couple of sessions a week to one or two sessions or matches a day.
While most athletes are on healthy diets consisting of nutritious carbs, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats like nuts and avocados, during competition periods, there are a few extra dietary needs they have to pay attention to.
Players who do not give adequate consideration to their diet when eating and snacking may become lethargic, tired and irritable. Carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruit and vegetables are rich in energy which help provide sustainable fuel for kids. Carbohydrates keep blood sugar levels consistent, which also helps with concentration and increasing energy.
Iron is one of the most important nutrients for athletes, as it is responsible for transporting oxygen to all parts of the body, including muscles and it also aids energy release from cells. Athletes with an iron deficiency will not be able to perform to the best of their ability and could suffer from fatigue and lightheadedness. Foods rich in iron are lean meats, dark meats, beans, nuts, and green leafy vegetables. Animal sources of iron are absorbed better than plant sources.
A small amount of healthy fats are also a requirement for normal growth and development, although it’s not difficult to get as healthy fats are found in meat, cheese and nuts.
During competition periods, it is not only important to maintain a healthy diet, but also for basketball players to prepare their bodies for each training session or match, and also take care of their body after those sessions. Athletes can refuel their bodies with nutrients and rehydrating with water, as they burn a lot of calories and lose fluids and sodium through sweat.
3-4 hours before a game, athletes should eat carbs to give them energy and lean proteins to energise their muscles. Avoiding fats is also recommended. Meal suggestions include:
- Pasta with low-fat tomato sauce
- Salad sandwich on wholegrain bread
- Tuna or chicken with rice and green vegetables
- Fruits such as banana with yoghurt and muesli
1-2 hours before, players should have a light snack. It is recommended that athletes drink 200-400ml of water; which helps to hydrate and also prepares their stomach to accept fluids during exercise. Some snacks options are:
- Muesli bar, raw almonds or seeds
- Fruit smoothie
- Sports drinks
Within the next 60-90 minutes after the game, carbs and proteins are essential to refuel athletes’ bodies, and fluids lost during the game need to be replaced. Recovery meal options include:
- Pasta with low-fat Bolognese sauce
- Rice with low-fat chicken curry
- Homemade pizza with lean toppings
For athletes taking part in high-intensity sports training lasting 60 minutes or more, water is extremely important for rehydration. As well as water, commercial sports drinks contain carbohydrate and electrolytes, is generally more effective than water alone. These drinks contain carbohydrate to help delay fatigue by providing glucose to the muscles, and electrolytes to replace sodium lost in sweat.