What to Eat Before a Basketball Game?

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Are you struggling with what to eat on game day? Are you trying to figure out if having a cheeseburger or a salad right before your game will be detrimental to your performance? We are here to answer that question and many more.

Imagine this. It’s 3 pm on game day, and you’re struggling to figure out what to eat. You’ve just gotten out of class, and your friends are going for burgers. Eager to spend these last moments with your friends, you tag along and eat greasy food. However, you pay for it later at the game. While playing, your body cramps, and your performance dives. This article can help you never to have that issue again.

If you’re conflicted with if and what you should be eating, we will answer just that. We will also provide information on what you should drink as well as what some of your favorite NBA players are having on gameday. Just consider this your nutrition guide for basketball players.

Keep reading for the answers to all your questions and then some. 

Should You Eat Before a Basketball Game

Should You Eat Before a Basketball Game?

If you’re going to eat before a game, it is best to make sure there is a window of a few hours before the game. The last thing you want to do when playing basketball is to have something fresh on your stomach, especially something substantial when you play. So, to answer the question, yes, it is okay to eat before a game. 

It’s encouraged to eat before a game. Basketball is an intense sport that requires excessive amounts of energy. However, allow ample time before the actual game’s start for your food to digest and settles. You will also want to make sure you are hydrated and def throughout the day.

Should You Eat Before a Basketball GameBefore your game, you will want to eat lightly. Your meal should include carbohydrates for energy and protein for an appetite suppressant. 

How Many Hours Should You Eat Before a Basketball Game

How Many Hours Should You Eat Before a Basketball Game?

Basketball is a strenuous activity, therefore having food in your stomach when playing is not ideal. Although you can eat before a basketball game, you must be mindful of the food you are looking to eat. You mustn’t eat too close to the games start as different food have different digestion times. 

These times are essential for deciding when to eat. Different foods may have different effects on your body. Carbohydrates take 3-4 hours to digest, whereas things like sweets and proteins may take longer, some say proteins will take almost 7 hours to digest. Aside from what you eat, you will also need to pay attention to how much you eat. More substantial portions will take longer to digest and could leave you sluggish before the big game. Make sure you eat in moderation so that you don’t become sleepy or lazy.

Eating 2 to 4 hours before a game should provide you with enough time for your food to settle and for you to be energized. 

How Can You Get More Energy Before a Basketball Game

How Can You Get More Energy Before a Basketball Game?

It’s important to remember that your game preparation starts long before the day of the basketball game. You should be incorporating energy increasing foods into your regular diet, and knowing what to eat before a basketball game is essential to have the most power. 

It’s normal to want to grab a snack on game day. However, there are a variety of snacks that can give you the boost you need. 

Protein Shakes

How Can You Get More Energy Before a Basketball Game

Protein Shakes not only provide a tasty alternative to a traditional snack; they also have lots of benefits. Whey protein contains essential nutrients and vitamins to replenish your energy. This includes amino acids and glutamine.

Meal Options

The options listed below are great have the night before a game or as a part of your game day meals. These foods will aid in boosting your energy and ensuring your performance. 

Snack Options

These snack options are great for boosting your energy and can even be eaten throughout the game day activities to ensure you are replenishing your energy as it depletes.


What Should You Drink Before a Basketball Game

What Should You Drink Before a Basketball Game?

The best thing you can do for yourself throughout your game day is to make sure you are properly hydrated. As your game gets closer, you will want to increase your water intake the night before. You may also want to increase your water intake on the morning of the actual game. 

Your urine color is a great way to determine if you are getting enough water around game time and even after that. If your urine is dark and has a pungent smell, you are certainly not drinking enough water. When this happens, you are also more susceptible to injury while playing. 

When considering what to drink, you should keep your sports drinks in moderation. Drinking too much of drinks with concentrated sugars can cause cramps and discomfort during gameplay. If you would like to drink a sports drink for energy, make sure you only have the 8-ounce serving size, however, if you have previously eaten properly, it won’t be needed. 

What Should You Drink Before a Basketball GameIf you play basketball, you should hydrate properly in general and not just before a game. Make sure that you are drinking the right amount of fluids and the right fluids as well. During your workout, practices, and games, you lose a lot of weight through fluids, and you need to ensure that you are adequately hydrated to manage this.

Your hydration plan should be dependent on your body’s weight, sweat tendencies, and usage rate. There is no one set hydration plan for everyone, so speak with your team’s nutritionist to ensure that you are consuming the right amount of fluids at the right time. You can find a more detailed recommendation for hydration here.

What Not to Eat Before a Basketball Game

What Not to Eat Before a Basketball Game?

There are several foods you should not eat before a basketball game. If you are a seasoned athlete, avoiding these foods will be no problem. 

Refined Carbs

Refined carbs include a multitude of typical snack foods. These are foods whose fibers and nutrients have already stripped away and therefore provide you no benefit. This includes foods like pasta, conventional breakfast cereals, pizza, and white bread. 

Fatty or Greasy Foods

Fatty or greasy foods can weigh you down before a game. They can also irritate your stomach and make it hard to perform your best. 


Depending on what level of basketball you play, alcohol may not even be an option. However, it is not something you want to drink on game day. Even the smallest amount of alcohol can impair your abilities. 

What do NBA Players Eat Before a Game

What do NBA Players Eat Before a Game?

If you’re looking to take your basketball game to a professional level, one thing you probably will want to do is start eating like the ballers themselves. Several NBA players have shared their pre-games eats, giving you an ultimate look into their eating lives. 

What do NBA Players Eat Before a GameOne thing many people don’t know is that the NBA runs of the infamous peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Each team has adopted its variations; however, before games, players have the sandwich as their pre-game meal. 

These sandwiches are an excellent option because of all the benefits they provide. This includes protein, complex carbs, simple carbs, and even healthy fats. Different teams have approached the pb&j in different ways. For example, The Trailblazers provide their team with PB&J sandwiches made from organic ingredients and cut into halves. The Bucks offer a buffet of sandwiches for their team, which include different variations of peanut butter and jelly. 

How Early Should You Eat Before a GameHow Early Should You Eat Before a Game?

You should eat complete meals at least two to three hours before the start of a game. This will allow your body to properly digest the food and appropriate the vitamins and minerals in time for you to use them throughout the game.

If you eat full meals too close to a basketball game, it will make you uncomfortable as your food will not be properly digested, and this could also have more severe repercussions. You should also eat smaller meals before games like snacks or energy bars that will provide you with quick bursts of energy but at the same time, not filling up your stomach.

What to Eat Night Before a Game

What to Eat Night Before a Game?

Everything you do the night before a basketball game is essential to making you perform at your best on the court. Basketball games take a lot of energy; therefore, you need to make sure that you have enough energy to get you through the basketball game. 

There are several foods that you can gravitate to to get the nutrients you need to make you play at tip-top performance. All of the items listed below are foods basketball players should eat before a game. We have also listed some of their benefits to help you understand why they are so good. 

Protein Rich Foods

What to Eat Night Before a Game

One good food to eat before basketball games are chicken. Not only is chicken an excellent food which can come together in many forms. This is one of the most recommended, as it provides players with large amounts of protein. Other protein-rich foods include: 

  • Fish
  • Tuna
  • Turkey
  • Lean red meats
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Eggs

Complex Carbs

Complex carbs help in increasing your body’s glycogen storage. They also allow you to have more reserved energy during your game. Foods which have a lot of complex carbs include:

  • Green vegetables
  • Beans & Lentils
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Peas
  • Corn


Nuts are a nice quick snack or a great addition to things like salads. They are packed with protein and great for increasing your energy. 

If you’re worried about what should a basketball player eat for breakfast, then look no further. There is an assortment of foods listed that can be prepared to make a delicious meal. This includes things like turkey omelets, scrambled eggs, and even yogurt.

There are so many combinations that players can make from these foods; it’s up to you to get creative to make something nutritious and filling. 

What to Do Hours Before a Basketball Game

What to Do Hours Before a Basketball Game?

If you aren’t playing basketball professionally, your life may get in the way of adequately preparing for a game.

You need to do a few things to be your best self while on the court, and this preparation should start a few hours before the game and, if properly planned, can coincide with your normal lifestyle. There are a few things that we recommend that you do in advance of a basketball game.


Resting your body is a vital part of playing basketball. Ensure that you have at least a good six to eight hours of sleep before playing a basketball game. This time will allow your body and mind to recover from any previously done activities, and it will also help heal your muscles that may have been damaged from previous games or training sessions.

What to Do Hours Before a Basketball GameSleeping also recharges your brain. Being able to think efficiently throughout a basketball game can mean the difference between winning and losing.

Get focused

The process of getting focused before a basketball game should start long before the game itself. Your coaches, training staff other team leaders would have informed you and the team of the necessary game plan that needs to be executed to win.

Before a basketball game, try to review the gameplan and understand it so that when you step on the court, you know exactly what you need to do. If you need additional help with getting focused, you can try to meet up with your teammates and discuss the gameplan with them if this works for you.

Revising the playbook or watching tapes can also focus your mind for the upcoming game.

Light Shooting

If you have a broken shot or just trying to improve your shooting and build up your muscle memory, doing light shooting drills before a basketball game can help you be more effective on offense.

You can do light shooting during warm-ups or even hours before the start of a game. There is never a wrong time to practice your shooting. Doing shooting drills hours in advance can also help to motivate your team members when they see the hard work that you are putting in.

Review playbook

Going over the plays with your coach, your teammates, or by yourself is a good way to familiarize yourself with the way you need to play when the game starts. Going over the playbook is like studying hours in advance before an exam.

Your brain will be in the right place when the game starts, and you will understand what your coaches want you to do when they call timeouts or shout from the sidelines. Understanding how you and your team need to play will avoid confusion and help the team be more organized and more efficient, which will make them more challenging to beat.

Check gear

Going to a basketball game without checking your gear is like going to war without checking your weapons. When we say your gear, we are talking about your shoes, socks, and protective equipment.

Most teams have staff members that handle their uniforms, so you may not have to worry about this part, but for the others, you should always check to make sure that they aren’t damaged and that they are ready for the game.

Ensure that your shoes are game ready, make sure that your protective equipment isn’t damaged, and that your socks are clean and comfortable. In addition to impacting the way you perform, knowing that your gear is right will provide you with psychological peace of mind when playing.


Staying adequately hydrated is a key factor in any sports. If you aren’t hydrating properly, you will easily become dehydrated, you will tire easily, and you won’t be as effective on the court as you should be.

Ensure that you are consuming enough fluids to propel you throughout games and put back the weight you lose while playing. You can find a lot of information here about how much fluids you should be consuming before, during, and after games and practices.

Wrapping Things Up: Key Takeaways

Basketball is a strenuous activity, and therefore it’s essential that you are not only well-rested before your game but well fed. Food is vital for ensuring we have adequate amounts of energy and stamina. 

We have provided you with a multitude of information from actually answering the question of if you should eat before a game to what to eat before a basketball game. If you are looking to eat like a pro, make sure you have your peanut butter and jelly sandwich ready. 

If your big game is coming soon, make sure you’re stocked with exceptional items for protein and even snacks like almonds, which you can eat throughout the day. We hope you can refer back to this article as your nutrition guide for basketball players. Good luck!

Did you find this post helpful? Then you may also like our post on how many calories are burned playing basketball

We also answer other frequently answered questions on basketball here.

Hoops Addict
Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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