Fuel Your Performance: Game-Day Meal Plan for Basketball Players

December 18, 2012 | John Henderson

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Basketball athletes know that their season is long and physically demanding. But many players don't know how to balance and time their meals throughout the day, particularly during a tournament weekend or a night game following a morning practice. (See Basketball Nutrition: Pre-, During and Post-Game Meal Strategies.)

Following a proper basketball nutrition plan preserves muscle, energy and strength vital for injury prevention and optimal performance. You probably understand the basics: jumpstarting your metabolism and fueling your muscles by always eating breakfast; and eating balanced meals every three to four hours throughout the day to maintain a stable supply of nutrients. But what's that look like? Get on track with this sample nutrition plan for a day with a morning shootaround and an evening game.

Breakfast (before morning practice)

Option One: large bowl of oatmeal, omelet made with one whole egg and two egg whites, scrambled with salsa, and a glass of orange juice.

Overslept and pressed for time? Try Option Two: toasted whole-wheat bagel with peanut butter, a piece of fruit, and low-fat yogurt.

Post-Practice Snack

One cup of trail mix or half a cup of almonds mixed with half a cup of dried fruit. (See Homemade Trail Mix: The Ideal Grab-N-Go Snack.)

Pre-Game Lunch (four hours prior to tip-off)

Foot-long sub sandwich on honey wheat with chicken breast, provolone or Swiss cheese, veggies and Italian dressing; sliced apples; large glass of water.

Pre-Game Snack (20 to 30 minutes prior to tip-off)

Peanut butter & jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread; Gatorade. (Read Hydrate Properly Before Basketball Games.)

During the Game

Stay hydrated. Sip a sports drinks and water during time-outs and breaks in play.

Post-Game Snack (to kick-start recovery)

Within thirty minutes after game, swig some low-fat chocolate milk and eat a banana.

Dinner (within one hour of game)

Whole-wheat spaghetti with marinara sauce and a lean protein source like turkey, chicken or lean ground meat; glass of water.

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