Last week I sent out a few Tweets (www.Twitter.com/AlanStein) requesting suggestions for blog topics. Thank you to everyone who responded, I appreciated the valuable feedback. Of the dozens of suggestions, more than half had to do with nutrition.
Please note: I am not a Registered Dietician (RD) or sports nutritionist. Nutrition is far from my area of expertise. However, I do feel qualified to make some basic recommendations to help the average youth, high school, and college basketball player. If you want a more in depth resource, I highly recommend this PDF download:
In order to maximize potential on the court, it is imperative for basketball players to develop healthy eating habits. What a player eats determines their body fat levels as well as how much energy they have for intense workouts, practices and games.
If you eat like crap, you will play like crap!
Dave Stagnita, the brilliant strength & conditioning coach at the Impact Basketball Academy in Las Vegas, believes nutrition accounts for upwards of 80% of a player’s training results. That means if you really want to maximize your off-season workout gains – you need to eat well!
Any food can be incorporated in moderation. However, to maximize performance, you need to reduce the intake of refined sugars (soda, candy, etc.) and ‘man made’ fats (chips, fried foods, etc.). You need to eat fruits, vegetables, and lean sources of protein (egg whites, chicken, fish, steak, etc.) as well as foods like oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes, almonds, avocados, and beans.
Aim to get your calories from real food as often as possible – only utilizing shakes and bars for convenience. Use supplements intelligently, not as a crutch or to make up for poor diet. The addition of a protein shake can be helpful for those trying to increase bodyweight but have difficultly eating sufficient calories as well as for those constantly on the go or at AAU events. I have found Muscle Milk’s line of products to taste great.
NOTE: If you do decide to add a protein shake, please steer clear of all performance enhancing supplements; such as Creatine or ephedrine.
General Guidelines for Basketball Players
· Eat something every 2-3 hours, regardless of hunger levels.
· Get lean protein at every meal and eat vegetables as often as possible.
· Breakfast and pre/post workout (or game) meals are the 3 most important meals.
· Drink water steadily throughout the day.
· Avoid Trans fats and high fructose corn syrup.
· Plan your day: pack snacks, wake up early enough to eat a quality breakfast, etc.
· Eat a diet with sufficient complex carbohydrates to provide the energy to fuel your intense training, practices, and games.
3 Popular Nutrition Questions
Question #1: How do I gain weight?
Answer: Most youth and high school basketball players are tall and slender, and are looking to add muscular bodyweight. In order to gain weight, you must consume more calories than you expend on a daily basis. This means players looking to put on weight must eat, eat, and eat! Most players think they eat a lot, but in reality they don’t. In order to gain muscle, you need to be on a progressive, age appropriate strength program as well.
To determine a very rough estimate as to how many calories per day you should consume, multiply your current bodyweight by 25. For example, a 150 lb. basketball player trying to gain muscular body weight requires around 3,750 calories a day (150 X 25 = 3750). Depending on individual metabolism, as well as daily energy expenditure through physical activity, this number may need to be slightly adjusted. Your goal should be to gain ½ to 1lb. of bodyweight per week for 10-12 straight weeks. If you aren’t gaining weight with what you are currently eating… eat more!
Question #2: Should I drink Gatorade or water?
Answer: You can incorporate both, although I believe you should drink water 90% of the time. Drinking Gatorade during and after workouts and games is fine to help replenish electrolytes, etc. I think the new G1 – G2 – G3 concept is on the money, but I don’t know how many youth and high school players are actually doing it. If I was filthy rich, or if I was sponsored by Gatorade (hint hint, if Gatorade executives are reading this), I would use the G Series for my own workouts.
Bottom line is this - it is important to be well hydrated, especially during intense workouts and games. Your performance on the court can decrease dramatically when your body is low on water. You should aim to drink water all day long; don't wait until you are thirsty.
Question #3: What should I eat before or after a workout or game?
Answer: There is no ‘right’ answer, everyone will be slightly different. The most important part is that you do eat something light before you workout and play. You don’t want a full stomach to weigh you down. Aim to eat 2 to 4 hours before your workout or game; this gives your body plenty of time to digest. The closer it gets to ‘go’ time, the smaller the meal. Make sure the meal includes good carbohydrate choices (for energy) but also has adequate protein (to help ward off hunger).
Once your workout or game is over, consume carbohydrate rich foods and beverages as well as lean sources of protein, as soon as possible. This will
replenish your muscle’s energy stores.
If you are playing multiple games in one day (AAU tournament), then make sure you eat a hearty breakfast… light snacks in between games… and a substantial dinner once your games are over.
Just remember the old adage, ‘You are what you eat.’
PS: For those of you looking for an awesome basketball experience this summer, I highly recommend Hoop Groups events:
I will be working their Elite Skills Academy on July 13-15th!