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 GameShould 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.

Before 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 GameHow 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 GameHow 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

Protein Shakes

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 GameWhat 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 Not to Eat Before a Basketball GameWhat 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 GameWhat 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. 

One 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. 

What to Eat Night Before a GameWhat 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

Protein Rich Foods

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. 

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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