Basketball Nutrition: Pre-, During and Post-Game Meal Strategies

December 4, 2012 | Kyle Newell

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As a basketball player and bodybuilder, I received a unique insight on how to build muscle for basketball players. Throughout my experience, I have found that basketball nutrition is not much different from eating for competitive lifting.

If you think about it, the goals are fairly similar. You must fuel for performance and set yourself up to recover from a basketball game or competition. The best, really the only, way to accomplish this is by developing an eating plan that surrounds your activity. (For more basketball nutrition tips, check out Nutrition Guidelines for Basketball Players.)

Pre-Workout Nutrition

The goal of a pre-workout meal is to give you the nutrients you need to make it through a hard workout or game without tanking halfway through. It also helps prevent muscle breakdown and sets your body up for faster recovery. (Learn the 5 Elements of Pre-Game Nutrition.)

Consume a pre-workout meal about an hour and a half before activity. If you tend to have a queasy stomach before games, you can eat an hour or two earlier than that.

The meal should consist of a balance of carbs and protein. Also, I recommend eating some healthy fats to delay the absorption of nutrients and give yourself a consistent energy source. Suggestions:

  • Shake: 40-50 grams of cross-flow microfiltered (CFM) whey protein; 1-2 tbsp. of raw peanut or almond butter; 1/2-1 cup of organic oats; water or fat-free milk
  • Sandwich: 2 slices of gluten-free bread; 1 can wild salmon; 1 tbsp. of grass-fed butter

During Workout Nutrition

It may seem counterintuitive to eat during a workout or game, but it's more important than you think.Why? Because it prevents a loss of energy towards the end of the session and sets you up for recovery.

Your intra-workout meal should emphasize protein and carbs for an energy boost. To prevent stomach cramps or sloshing, it's critical to eat foods that are easy to digest. Suggestions:

  • Shake: 1-2 scoops of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and water
  • Sandwich: peanut butter and jelly on whole grain bread

Post-Workout Nutrition

A post-workout meal consumed within 30 minutes will refuel your muscles and provide the amino acids they need to rebuild and recover. If you fail to eat this meal, your muscles will be starved of nutrients when they need them most.

Most basketball athletes only go for a protein shake, but it's also essential to eat some fast-acting carbs. The energy boost will help shuttle amino acids into your muscles so they can rebuild and get bigger and stronger. Suggestions:

  • Shake: 40-50 grams of CFM whey protein; 50-60 grams of waxy maize powder; water or fat-free milk
  • Meal: 40-50 grams of CFM whey protein, 4 gluten-free pancakes or waffles with organic syrup or honey

Learn how to put together a game-day meal inspired by Candace Parker.

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