The combination of speed, power, agility and endurance in addition to technical skill and mental stamina make basketball an intense and challenging sport both physically and mentally. Despite an average possession of play lasting about 12-20 seconds, players have been found to cover up to five miles and make up to 1,000 changes in movement per game. This demanding sport requires a lot from an athlete’s body and the best way to ensure that you’re prepared to compete is to make sure you’re not only training but also paying close attention to your diet. Let’s take a look at some of our top recommendations for nutrition for high school basketball players.
1. Eat protein at every meal
Protein is a macronutrient that helps build muscle while increasing your metabolism so you can continually burn fat. This is especially important for high school players who are still potentially growing while trying to build muscle. Players should shoot for 0.75 to 1 gram of real protein sources (chicken, fish, grass-fed beef, eggs, quinoa, Greek yogurt, etc.) per pound of body weight. So if you weigh 175, you should shoot for approximately 175 grams of protein per day.
EXPERT TIP: Supplement your real protein sources by drinking a protein shake or chocolate milk within 30 minutes following a workout. This will send a quick flow of amino acids to your muscles helping them recover more quickly.
2. Eat breakfast every day
In the mornings, your body is in a fasted state due to not refueling for 8-10 hours while you were sleeping. This means that your body needs to be fed and your muscles need nutrients. If you go too long without giving your body proper nutrition, you risk putting your body in fat storage mode. Training athletes cannot afford to lose muscle and gain fat, especially for something as simple as skipping breakfast. In addition, eating in the morning can help you feel more energized and less tired and make you less likely to binge on junk later in the day. To make the most of the first meal of the day make sure you include a combination of protein (see #1!), carbohydrates and healthy fat. For ideas on what you can eat for breakfast, check out what these pro athletes consume in the mornings.
3. Vary your carbohydrate intake based on activity level
While you want to make sure to consume a high quantity of protein and healthy fats every day, your carbohydrate intake should vary based on your daily activity level. Carbohydrates serve to provide energy for your body so if you have a difficult training day you’ll need lots of carbs, but on light activity or rest days you’ll need less.
EXPERT TIP: Eating the correct type of carbohydrate at the correct time will help supplement your workouts. Here’s what types of carb you should be eating and when:
- About 45-90 minutes prior to a difficult workout, you should eat a small amount of complex, slow digesting carbs such as oatmeal, wild rice, beans or yams.
- Immediately after a workout simple, fast digesting carbs such as fruits, protein shakes, white rice, pasta or potatoes will help spike insulin and increase anabolism.
- After hard workouts you should shoot for a 2:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein and after light workouts shoot for a 1:1 ratio.
4. Limit your supplements
Real food always performs better and provides your body with better-rounded nutrition than supplements. If you do want to supplement, stick with protein powder ONLY after workouts and try to stay away from replacing any real food with supplements. The only exception to this rule is a multivitamin. If you suspect you might have vitamin or mineral deficiencies, you can supplement with this.
Your body uses water not only to hydrate your workout but also to build and repair muscles. (After all, your muscle tissue is up to seventy-five percent water.) Therefore, hydration is not only important during training sessions or competition, it’s important all the time, every day.
If your daily fluid intake is less than your sweat loss then you are at a high risk for dehydration. Many of the symptoms of dehydration including thirst, fatigue, headaches and muscle cramps happen when you’re already dehydrated and can cause an inability to keep up speed, lowered shooting percentage, loss of balance and slowing of reaction time and mental alertness.
Aim to drink about ½ of your body weight in ounces of water every day to remain adequately hydrated. During a big game or tough training session, drink a glass every thirty minutes to replenish lost fluids. Keep a close eye on your hydration levels everyday with this helpful Performance Hydration fact sheet.
Proper nutrition is your key to success on and off the court. Paying special attention to the nutrients your body needs will help you perform better and recover faster.
Need more advice on how to help muscle recovery during your season? Check out our FREE QiVantage Day-to-Day Muscle Recovery Checklist.