Athletes should never underestimate the importance of nutrition. It is arguably the most critical driver of performance enhancement and injury prevention. (See Nutrition Guidelines for Basketball Players.) But when they travel to away games and tournaments, many basketball players are faced with less than ideal meal options.
How do you eat healthy when your pre- or post-game meal is served up at McDonald's and Burger King? Check out this post-workout meal option from Wendy's, put together by Stronger Team's Blair O' Donovan:
This under-$10 meal is a good example of how it's entirely possible for basketball players to stick to a healthy eating plan when the team bus stops at a fast food restaurant. (See also Fast Food and Student-Athletes.) You can't out-train a poor diet, but neither do you have to eliminate favorites like chili and milk shakes. Here are a few more tips to keep you on track.
Keep a daily food journal
Keeping a food journal is the first step to eating healthier. Most players have no idea about the amount of calories they consume daily. Writing it all down provides a visible record of the foods and drinks they probably shouldn't be taking in. Yes, it can get annoying, so I typically have my players journal what they eat for a week or so, then make changes based on that.
Eat plenty of protein and good fat for breakfast
Eating protein and good fats early in the day increases the feeling of fullness and decreases cravings for sugary foods and drinks. The most common mistake basketball players make is eating a breakfast heavy in carbohydrates like cereal or bagels, with hardly any protein or fat. This leaves them feeling hungry an hour or two later, often craving more of the same types of foods. This doesn't mean you're not allowed any carbohydrates. One of my favorite healthy breakfast options for basketball players looks like this:
- Three scrambled eggs
- One piece of toast with a tablespoon of peanut butter
- Whey protein shake
Altogether, this meal provides 25 grams of fat, 23 grams of carbohydrates and 50 grams of protein.