/ / A Basketball Player’s Diet: 5 Tips for Your Next Game Day

A Basketball Player’s Diet: 5 Tips for Your Next Game Day

August 1, 2022 4 0
A Basketball Player’s Diet: 5 Tips for Your Next Game Day

Basketball is one of the most popular high-intensity contact sports in the world that requires physical and mental strength. Every basketball player needs to have the right energy to perform well and limit the chances of getting an injury. It is also essential to sustain energy, especially during the ongoing season and off-season training.

Professional nutritionists must adequately monitor a basketball player’s diet because it can be dangerous while playing the sport. Professional basketball players have the luxury of having the proper food supply, unlike smaller-school college players and mid-school athletes. This article will help many basketball players have the energy from the nutrients they need.

Basketball Player's Diet: What's In It?

Choose the Correct Nutrients

Every athlete must be aware of their mental and physical health before engaging in any sport. In basketball, players need the proper nutrients that can give them energy for a lot of running, jumping, passing, and shooting. Many people love to play basketball, which comes with all ages and gender. 

All types of bodies need the necessary energy to optimize their performance in a game. Basketball is a team sport, and everybody on the team depends on each other to execute their plays and defend their basket. The elite high school-aged male basketball players use 4,600 kcals per day, and the female basketball players use 3,500 kcals per day, which is essential for proper weight loss regains during their season. Our muscles need the right source of calories from the correct type of fuel.


One of the best sources of calories for muscle regain is carbohydrates. It replenishes the energy that basketball players consume in every game they play. As part of a basketball player’s diet, our bodies store carbohydrates in the form of glycogen in the skeletal muscle and the liver. Our livers can hold 75-100 grams of carbohydrates and keep blood glucose during meals while in a 12-hour fasting program. 

Every morning people use most of their liver glycogen, which makes it essential that athletes should eat their breakfast before they practice in the morning. Skeletal muscles can have 300 – 400 grams more carbohydrates, which it used for fueling the body with energy for an activity. Basketball training can be rigorous. That's why players need more than the average amount of glycogen the muscle can hold. 

A basketball player’s diet can be advantageous with carbohydrates as muscle storage can use the glycogen the body needs for sprinting, running, and jumping. Basketball players can produce 90 – 100 minutes of high-intensity training, but there are times that it would run low – also known as “bonking” or “hitting the wall.” 

An insufficient supply of carbohydrates can deteriorate the muscles, especially during heavy training days. A basketball player’s diet must include high consumption of carbohydrates to have at least 55% of the total calories in food intake.

Foods rich in carbohydrates are vegetables, pasta, rice, fruits, and bread. Many nutritionists suggest that the intake of carbohydrates will be according to the athlete’s body mass to make sure that they are using adequate carbohydrates for their body. 


Another critical factor in a basketball player’s diet has a lean body mass. Although many athletes use supplements and other methodologies to increase their dietary protein to help build their muscle mass. But this method is unnecessary because they can have a lean body mass if they eat a well-balanced diet that provides sufficient protein and energy for the day’s activity.

Some studies show that a protein intake of 1.8 grams/kg body weight will be the maximum protein synthesis for our muscles. Basketball players with a 140 lb body built need an average of 115 grams of protein, and those with a 180 lb body built will need 150 grams of protein.

Our muscles mainly use carbohydrates as a fuel source, but there are times when we tend to overeat protein, which can displace energy from carbohydrates. When our carbohydrates are low, our muscles will use protein, which is an inefficient metabolic activity and will make us feel fatigued. Experts recommend 1.4 to 1.7 grams/kg of body mass protein intake for basketball players.


Another critical factor in a basketball player’s diet is dietary fats. These fats help in the synthesis of cell membranes, hormones, and the proper function of the immune system. Basketball players need to eat fats that are healthy for the heart, like the mono-unsaturated fats, which you can find in avocados, olive oils, and many more. They also need to eat omega-3 fats, which are present in flaxseeds and salmons. 

In a basketball player’s diet, it is also essential to avoid eating saturated fats (lard, beef fat) and trans fats (processed foods and margarine). Athletes should have fat intake to help replenish the calories after they complete the recommended carbohydrates and proteins.

Meals Before the Game

Meals before the game are very crucial for every basketball player’s diet. It provides the energy needed and helps players not to feel hungry during the game. Eating the proper meal before the game also reduces the risk of gastrointestinal problems. The proper meal that a basketball should take before a game should be high in carbohydrates, low in fibre, and low in fat.

In-Game Fueling

An official basketball game has four 12-minute quarters, making it at least 48 minutes of playtime. Most basketball players will not use up all their stored muscle and liver glycogen but will have supplements of carbohydrates while playing for optimum performance in the end game.

One of the researches about a basketball player’s diet shows that sprint speed and cognitive function will have retention in basketball-type protocols when players receive carbohydrates instead of a placebo. Experts recommend 20 – 60 g/h of carbohydrates for performance consumption.

It is also essential to know that all forms of carbohydrate supplies must have fluid replacement because basketball players need to rehydrate when playing. Basketball games have natural breaks during gameplay, such as time-outs when referees call violations, breaks between quarter periods, and halftime breaks, which are players’ chances of rehydrating and refuelling. 

Recovery after Game

After every game, a basketball player’s diet must include recovery nutrition, which they should take within 24 hours. The muscles used during practice or the game become sensitive to glucose and amino acids found in the blood, which it used for glycogen restoration and muscle protein synthesis. The recovery phase of basketball players allows muscles to regain their glycogen faster than the meals they took two or three hours after training. 

Experts recommend 1.0 – 1.2 grams of carbohydrate, body weight carbon intake and 20 grams protein intake for recovery. As part of a basketball player’s diet, they sometimes choose liquid meals for recovery because they lose appetite right after a game.

Protein and carbohydrates are imperative to consume right after the game, but players should never forget to consume a nutritious meal within two hours to provide the muscles to refuel. They should also rehydrate 20 – 24 oz. of fluid after training and games, preferably those with sodium.


Pregame and recovery meals are essential factors in a basketball player’s diet. Every basketball player needs to follow these routines before they join any tournaments. Many basketball teams participating in tournament plays will only play one game daily. They will also need a 24-hour recovery period in a back-to-back game situation. It is vital that players receive food that contains carbohydrates to help restore their muscle glycogen, fluids to rehydrate, and protein to assist muscle protein synthesis. 

Basketball teams that must play more than one game in a day must prepare their players by letting them consume pregame meals that are low in fat, high in carbohydrates, and low in fibre. Experts recommend basketball player’s diet for breakfast may include bagels with jam, ready-to-eat cereal with skim milk, and pancakes with syrup. Their lunch or dinner can contain pasta, low-fat sandwich, or soup. 

Final Thoughts

Basketball is a well-known team sport around the world, and many athletes enjoy playing the sport. Players learn how to dribble the ball, shoot, pass, and defend their goal to win the game. They must also condition their physical and mental health to perform appropriately and avoid injuries. A basketball player’s diet should have close monitoring by experts so that they will have the energy to play the game.

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