So much of a basketball player’s success goes into what he puts into his body because what you eat is what will ultimately fuel you and allow you to become a better player. And we have seen this in how some of the top NBA players have been hiring nutritional experts who tell them which foods are the best for them and what they should be avoiding. Of course, we have also seen the best players changing their diet to extend their playing years in the NBA.
You may want to gain weight, trim down, or maintain your current fitness level, but the fact of the matter is that you still have to eat the right foods regardless of what your goals as a basketball player may be. That is why we are here to show you what basketball players eat so that you would know how to fuel yourself towards success.
How Much Should a Basketball Player Eat?
The first thing you need to know regarding a basketball player’s regular diet is the number of calories that he eats on a regular basis. Now, in case you did not know, calories are the equivalent of the fuel that any person needs for his body to function normally. Everyone needs to eat a certain number of calories based on the body’s daily calorie requirement.
You should also know that calories are what make a person gain or lose weight. The more calories you eat on a daily basis, the more likely it is for you to end up gaining weight because the excess calories that your body does not need will be stored as reserve energy in the form of fat. Meanwhile, if you eat fewer calories than what your body requires, your body will turn to your reserve body fat for the energy you need.
In short, by eating more calories than your regular daily calorie requirement, you will end up gaining weight in the form of fat or muscle, whichever of the two may apply. Meanwhile, if you eat fewer calories than your regular daily requirement, you will end up losing weight either in the form of fat, muscle, or both.
However, there are more than just calorie intake and daily calorie requirements that you need to look at when you are a basketball player. That is because basketball players tend to require more energy on a regular basis precisely because of how they burn more calories during practice, individual workouts, weight training, and actual basketball games. So, how much should a basketball player eat on a regular basis?
The number of calories that a basketball player should eat depends on two main factors on top of his level of activity. First, the taller a player is, the higher the calories should be. Second, the heavier the player is, the higher the calories should be. That said, daily calorie intake depends largely on how tall and heavy the basketball player is.
Of course, it also depends on the player’s individual goals. If the player wants to maintain his weight, he needs to eat within his regular calorie intake. Meanwhile, losing or gaining weight means that the player should eat fewer or more than the daily calorie intake.
So, regardless of a player’s height or weight, the regular professional basketball player eats somewhere between 2,000 and 4,500 calories a day. Of course, the shorter and lighter players eat somewhere closer to 2,000 calories a day. Meanwhile, those who eat closer to 4,500 are those who need to gain more weight or are on the higher side of the scale in terms of height and weight.
In that regard, you need to be able to first tell what your daily calorie intake should be depending on your size and personal goals. But then, again, staying healthy and performing at your best as a basketball player is more than just knowing how many calories you need to eat. That is because the quality of your calories and the composition of your daily calorie intake are just as important as the total calories you eat.
All that said, having a good meal plan that covers your daily calorie intake and fits your calorie composition is an important part of staying fit and healthy as a basketball player. And, in a lot of cases, the quality of the calories can be more than enough to keep you at the top of your game throughout your entire basketball career.
What is a Good Meal Plan for Basketball Players?
As mentioned, there is more than just simple calorie intake when it comes to good nutrition for a basketball player. You may be eating well within your calorie needs but you will not be able to improve your health and performance if you are eating unhealthy calories.
That is why a good meal plan for a basketball player or for most athletes, for that matter, should be composed of 60% carbohydrates, 20% fat, and 20% protein. And remember that this should all fall within your daily calorie intake. Also, it is important for you to know that you need to make sure that all of these macronutrients come from healthy and clean sources and not junk. After all, what NBA players eat tend to come from the best sources.
Now, what you need to understand here is that you can also increase or decrease any of those macronutrients depending on what your body needs. For example, basketball players’ meal plan involves eating 55% carbs 5% more protein to increase the protein intake to 25% all while the fat intake stays the same. It depends largely on what your body needs.
If you are a bodybuilding enthusiast, you may know that eating more protein than any other macronutrient should be important to make sure that your muscles grow or that your muscles do not atrophy. Eating, let us say up to 60% protein per day can be a good idea if you are looking to grow those muscles or retain your muscles as you are losing fat but this should be better reserved for when it is the offseason and there is no need for you to have a good intake of carbs.
The reason why basketball players should avoid eating more protein during tournament periods or seasons is that eating too much protein will end up forcing your body to use your protein and muscles for energy instead of fat or carbs. That is because tournament seasons tend to be more taxing on the body than offseason periods, and that is exactly why you need more carbs to fuel your body.
If you want to improve your muscular physique and overall fitness by eating more protein, save it for the offseason. But, during the regular season, even some NBA players tend to change their diets a bit to make sure that they are capable of fueling their bodies with enough carbs.
That said, let us look at a good meal plan for basketball players.
What Do Basketball Players Eat for Breakfast?
Breakfast is the most important part of the day for basketball players because this is when you will need to fuel yourself up for the entire day. Of course, skipping breakfast will be detrimental to your diet because of how it will make you more likely to eat junk food later on in the day. A typical diet of 3,000 calories a day consists of:
- Boiled or poached eggs
- Fruits or vegetables
- Healthy carbs like oats
Eggs are the most important foods here because it has been proven that eggs are important for losing weight while retaining muscle strength due to how they have a good dose of protein and fat without plenty of carbs that can end up getting stored as excess fat.
What Do Basketball Players Eat for Dinner?
Dinner is also just as important as any meal of the day because this should keep you full and fueled as you end the day. But what makes dinner important is that this is the meal that will help your body repair itself as you rest or sleep.
Take note that the body uses food for recovery. As you sleep, the food that you ate for dinner will be the primary source of energy the body needs to repair itself. That is why you should never disregard a good meal for dinner. Because you do not need plenty of carbs as you rest, it is best to focus more on a protein-rich meal for dinner. A good dinner meal can consist of the following:
- Chicken breast or fish
- Green vegetables like spinach or lettuce
- Yogurt for dessert
Salads tend to be staples among what basketball players eat for dinner because they have enough protein but are, at the same time, not too heavy on the carbs and the calories. And when you get your salad right, you get a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals as well.
What Should a Basketball Player Eat Before and After Practice?
After practice is when you should be hitting all of the macronutrients the right way because this is when you should be recovering all of the energy you spend during practice. That means that you should be eating a healthy dose of carbs and fat. On top of that, hit your meals with a good amount of protein to help your muscles recover from a practice.
A good pre-practice meal can consist of the following:
- Light carbs like bread
- Light protein like a protein shake
After practice, you need to fill yourself up with a good dose of carbs and protein such as:
- Rice, pasta, or bread
- Lean protein such as chicken or fish or lean beef
- Leafy vegetables
What Foods Basketball Players Should Avoid?
While we did talk about the foods that basketball players should eat, it is also important to talk about the foods that basketball players should not eat. That is because eating the wrong foods can end up messing with your entire calorie intake and macronutrient count.
1. Foods like burgers and fries might sound like a good idea because they do have a good dose of carbohydrates, fat, and protein. But a burger meal is so calorie-dense and is so rich in fat.
2. Excessive soda consumption has been linked with obesity in America. And sodas tend to be so poor when it comes to macro and micronutrients because these foods tend to be pure sugar and come with little to no nutritional value whatsoever.
3. Your regular potato chips are almost pure carbs and fat and are so calorie-dense but have little to no protein. Meanwhile, candy or chocolate bars might be good for a quick energy jolt from time to time but you should never overdo them because these foods are also excessive in terms of their fat and sugar content.
Wrapping Things Up: What Do Basketball Players Eat?
All that said, what a basketball player should be eating is actually not too different from what a healthy diet should be. It might be true that basketball players might need a bit more calories to make up for the energy they tend to burn up during practices and games but you also have to know that the composition of their macronutrients is also the same as what constitutes a healthy diet.
As such, there really is nothing complicated about what a basketball player should be eating. The key here is to focus more on healthy and clean sources of nutrients such as whole-grain carbs, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Ditch the bag of potato chips and the drive-thru and focus more on foods that are cooked the correct and healthy way without all of those refined and processed ingredients.
The more you focus on eating healthy, the quicker you are to realize that changing your diet without depriving yourself of the energy you need can make a huge difference in the way you perform in practice and during games.