If you are a basketball player, you need stamina, speed, control, alertness, mental focus and sport skills. You must also follow nutrition principles to maximise your training and competitive capabilities. You need to maintain a high level of energy throughout your practice sessions as well as during the actual game to get a distinctive edge over your competitors.
For a basketball player, the most severe rival is fatigue. Therefore, nutrition should be such that it is helpful in reducing physical as well as mental fatigue. Controlling fatigue further helps in preventing many injuries which can occur during the last minutes of the games when the players are physically exhausted and mentally tired.
The two important nutritional keys for a basketball player are the carbohydrate intake and the hydration level. It is, therefore, important for you to take a well-planned and balanced nutrition.
Carbohydrate is the main fuel source. You must take adequate amount of carbohydrate and constantly replenish the stores. You can get carbohydrates from oranges, bananas, dried fruits, peas, carrots, pastas, whole grain breads, granola bars, baked potatoes and pretzels.
You should also maintain adequate hydration level. You should understand the importance of proper hydration and should follow the hydration strategies.
Pre Meals Before Practice or Game
It is important as it provides fluids and energy to muscles and mentally helps the player for the game. You can take your meal 2 to 4 hours before practice or game. Carbohydrates should form part of majority of the meal with some lean protein. You should not take high fat meals during this time. You should also keep yourself hydrated by drinking 16 oz of water or other sports drinks two hours prior to practice or competition. And 30 minutes prior to practice or game, you should take more 4 to 8 oz of water or other sports drink. The meal should be non-caffeinated, non-carbonated and non-alcoholic. To avoid muscle cramps you should regularly take salty food such as soups, pretzels, crackers, etc. Taking sports drinks is also good for the cramp prone players.
During the Game
Players should take carbohydrate and fluids, when possible during the game as they keep the players energised. Sports drinks are best as they contain both the fluid and carbohydrate required to keep the hydration and energy levels perfect during the game. You can take the sports drinks 4 to 8 oz every 15 to 20 min. The players competing at higher levels should also consume a small amount of solid food such as fruit snacks, orange wedges, jelly beans, fig bars or sport gels etc at halftime to regain the energy used. And also take 6 to 8 oz of water or some sports drink with the intake of these carbohydrates.
After Practice or Game Nutrition
Nutrition after practice or game is very important in basketball as in other games. Players should consume carbohydrates about half of their body weight in grams within half an hour immediately after the practice or game.
The recovery meal should be rich in carbohydrate and with some amount of protein but low in fat. You can take raisins, fruits, graham crackers, pudding cups, yogurt and smoothies. It is also important to consume 20 oz of water or other sport drink within 2 hours of game finish.