Nutrition Recommendations For Basketball
Eating balanced meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks supplies the energy and nutrients needed for overall health and sports performance. That includes fuel for the brain and muscles to function properly as well as what’s needed to build and maintain lean body mass. Getting enough carbohydrates, protein and fat each day is critical to perform at a high level.
Carbohydrate is the predominant fuel used to play basketball. The total daily intake should make up over half of the total calories or energy intake. Basketball players need more than 5 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight each day, and between 7 and 12 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight on heavy training and competition days. For a 165-pound (75 kg) basketball player, that equates to over 375 grams of carbohydrate per day and between 525 and 900 grams per day on heavy training and competition days.
Sources of carbohydrate include starches and grains, like cereals, rice, pasta, bread, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, and starchy snack foods. Fruits, vegetables, milk and yogurt are also rich sources of carbohydrates.
Protein is another important nutrient for the basketball student athlete, as it plays a key role in building and maintaining all body tissues, enzymes, hormones and supporting immune health. Athletes require additional protein to assist in muscle repair and remodeling. The daily recommended protein intake for basketball players is between 1.4 and 1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight each day. For a 165-pound (75 kg) student athlete, that equates to between 105- 128 grams of protein. Ideally, protein intake should be spread out evenly throughout the course of the day.
Examples of protein-rich foods are Greek yogurt, milk, cheese, eggs, chicken, grilled fish, lean cuts of steak and pork, fish and other seafood. Plant-based sources of protein include beans, lentils and soy-based products like tofu.
Fat is also an important nutrient and a valuable energy source for student athletes. It helps regulate body temperature, cushion and protect organs, assist with nerve transmission, and transport fat-soluble vitamins. Certain fats, referred to as omega-3 fatty acids, have been shown to play a valuable role in inflammation and brain health. Unlike carbohydrates and protein, fat recommendations are not based on a gram per kilogram amount. Instead, they are based on total daily calorie needs. Once carbohydrate and protein needs have been determined, the remainder of calories needed to meet daily energy requirements should come from fat.
Examples of dietary fats include oils, margarine, avocado, nut and seeds. Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically, are found in foods like flaxseed, walnuts, salmon and other fatty fish.
The chart below gives an example of how carbohydrate, protein and fat intake can be distributed throughout the day for a 165-pound student-athlete.