Diet Plan For Basketball Players


Diet plan for basketball players is perhaps the most important aspect of their game. Basketball players are always looking for an edge and making them believe that you have a solution to improve their performance on the court, is what makes you a sales superstar.

A Nutritional Guide for Basketball Players

Granola bars can be a great mid-day snack.

Optimum performance on the basketball court requires sound nutritional habits, as being adequately fueled directly affects your stamina and focus.

You can get your daily requirement of nutrients and calories through everyday food. It is rare to need the use of supplements, with the exception being weight-gain shakes for those of you who have trouble consuming adequate calories to provide for muscle gain. You should most certainly steer clear of performance-enhancing supplements, such as creatine and ephedrine, because of the possible side effects.

Do not underestimate the role nutrition plays in acquiring maximum physical development. What you eat on a daily basis helps to determine body fat levels, as well as how much energy you will have for intense workouts and practices. Whether you are trying to gain muscle, reduce body fat, or maintain your current stature, it is very important to follow these basic dietary recommendations:

  • A balanced diet consists of approximately 60 percent carbohydrates, 20 percent fat and 20 percent protein.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc.).
  • Limit the intake of fat, sugar, and sodium.
  • Drink plenty of water. Many nutritionists recommend a minimum of 64 ounces of water per day.
  • Eat 5-7 small meals throughout the day. The size of the meal depends on the actual goal (weight loss vs. weight gain), as well as level of activity (two-a-days versus regular practice, tournaments versus regular games, etc.).

Weight Gain the Healthy Way

Most 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 if you are looking to put on weight, you must eat, eat, and eat! Now for the select few looking to lose weight (i.e. reduce body fat), they must do the opposite — consume fewer calories than they expend. This is done by controlling their portion sizes.


Below is just a very basic and general sample menu one can follow to get an idea of how much food he or she needs to consume on a daily basis to gain weight. A reasonable goal is to try and gain one pound per week for an 8-10 week stretch:

Example Menu No. 1

  • Breakfast: Orange juice, four pancakes w/syrup, and four scrambled eggs.
  • Snack: one cup of low fat yogurt, granola bar, and a banana.
  • Lunch: two deli sandwiches on whole wheat bread, an apple, and a glass of milk.
  • Snack: two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a glass of milk.
  • Dinner: Steak, potatoes, steamed vegetables, and a roll.
  • Snack: two sticks of string cheese and crackers

Example Menu No. 2

  • Breakfast: Granola with dried fruit and milk.
  • Snack: two cups of instant oatmeal.
  • Lunch: four slices of cheese pizza and a salad.
  • Snack: Trail mix: peanuts, raisins, and dried fruit.
  • Dinner: Pasta with meat sauce, garlic bread, a vegetable, and milk.
  • Snack: Weight Gain Super Shake (see below)

Weight Gain Super Shake

  • 1 cup of frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup of orange juice
  • 1 large banana
  • 1 cup of low fat strawberry yogurt
  • 3 scoops of protein powder

Meal Plan for Basketball Players

A basketball game

Two basketball players on the court.

With repeated sprinting and jumping and short periods of rest, basketball is a strenuous sport. While physical training and practice are an important part of game preparation, so is your diet. If you want to run faster and jump higher, you need to feed your muscles right. A basketball player’s meal plan should include a wide variety of nutritious foods that helps meet your heavy carb needs while providing enough protein to build and maintain muscle.

Basketball Diet Basics

A basketball player’s diet is high in carbs and low in fat. Most carbs should come from healthy foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and milk to maximize vitamin and mineral intake. Lean red meat, skinless poultry, seafood or beans can help you meet your daily protein needs. For heart health, include healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds. Aim to eat five to seven times throughout the day.

Morning Meals and Snacks

When you’re training hard and heavy, it’s important to stay fueled throughout the day. A healthy high-carb breakfast meal to start the day right might include a whole-wheat bagel with scrambled eggs, with a banana and a cup of low-fat milk. To keep energy levels up for your hard-working muscles, eat a snack a few hours after breakfast, such as a bowl of whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk or a cup of low-fat yogurt with an orange.

Afternoon Meals and Snacks

If you’re game or practice is three to four hours away, eat a lunch meal that is high in carbs and includes some protein. For example, try whole-wheat pasta mixed with broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and shrimp with low-fat Parmesan cheese and a cup of orange juice. One to two hours before practice or a game, eat a low-fat, high-carb snack to get you through, such as whole-wheat bread with jam or a banana with low-fat milk.

Dinner: Eating for Recovery

What you eat after games and practice is as important as what you eat before. To promote muscle healing and recovery, eat a snack that contains carbs, protein and fat within 30 minutes of finishing up, such as an apple with peanut butter or a cup of low-fat chocolate milk. Eat a healthy dinner meal three to four hours later to continue to replenish energy stores and build and repair muscle. A healthy dinner meal for a basketball player might include grilled chicken with a large baked potato, peas, tossed salad and a glass of low-fat milk.

The Basic Rules of Basketball Nutrition

  • Eat every 3-5 hours
  • Protein every meal
  • Carbs around the practice or gym work
  • Eat more whole foods
  • At least four servings of fruits and veggies per day
  • Don’t entirely avoid junk food

It’s best to eat every 3-5 hours because you don’t want your body to signalize to your brain that its missing fuel for the rest of the day. You don’t want to lose a focus, even if you don’t play basketball.

Protein every meal, so you don’t lose any muscle. It’s best to stick to whole food protein like meat, fish, eggs, milk, low-fat cheese, etc. But if you can’t afford it or you just can’t eat so much food, there’s always Whey Protein Concentrate , also a healthy option.

Carbs around the practice or gym work so you have enough energy for workouts, at the same time keeping the caloric balance.Eat more whole foods like apples, bananas, lettuce, avocado, garlic, lean beef, chicken, shrimps, eggs, seafood, etc.

Fruits and veggies for health. They’re full of vitamins and minerals that will keep your immunity in check and keep diseases away. Plus they’re very low in calories.

And finally, don’t avoid junk food so much if you’re not overweight. It’s better to eat moderate amounts than to suffer because you can’t eat a row of chocolate or a bag of chips.

The right approach

The question of top basketball players’ nutrition is not very complicated. But approaching it with the established schemes (eat this and don’t eat that) isn’t very smart. On the contrary, each player must be treated individually.

A huge effort and money are invested in sports nutrition research, which just us tells that knowledge and experience are constantly multiplying. Through the years, highly competent experts brought us some general diet guidelines that every basketball player today should know.

I’m not going to go through everything about the diet of a basketball player because then it would be a book, not an article. I’m just going to give you the clear and understandable directions for which way to go and then it’s up to you. You’ll learn how to:

  • Balance meals
  • Eat for best performance
  • How your nutrition should look like around the game/practice

Also, I wrote to you a few meal plans for you to see what I’m talking about. Read on.

Diet differences between basketball players and regular people

While a person who doesn’t play basketball needs the energy (calories) only to fuel bodily functions, a basketball player needs more „fuel“ for training, games, and, of course, all life functions.

And indeed, the basketball players’ meals are the fuel that is poured into the body. Though many athletes, in fact, forget it. Except for the caloric intake, vitamins and minerals can also be a problem for a basketball player, taking into the account that they are spent faster because of the extra stress on the body.

On top of this, a young growing athlete needs additional calories to grow. So keep that in mind when you’re wondering why you’re always hungry.


The first rule of proper basketball nutrition

Here’s an example. A 16-year-old 150-pound basketball player spends around 2400 calories with normal daily activities. And when he has basketball practice, that consumption grows up to 3200 calories. Let’s say this boy is already skinny, and if he loses a few more pounds, he’ll look like a skeleton. This boy should then eat more, to not lose weight, right?

So the first rule of a balanced basketball diet means adjusting your calorie intake with its consumption. Otherwise, you’d have weight gain or weight loss. Don’t worry, we’ll talk about both later.

The second rule is to have different foods over the week. That’s how you’ll make sure to have a proper balance between protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

Not all basketball players like the same foods, so the coaches who give the same nutrition plan to every player are very wrong. Different foods for different players will yield much better results.

Why you should stick with the simple stuff (the foods you like)

It’s interesting to observe how eating habits are strictly individual and how this can hardly change. What you’ve learned at an early age or as you saw it in your own home, that’s how you’ll do it during your lifetime.

you never cooked fish in your house, the stories about how healthy the fish is, wouldn’t mean you a thing! And that’s totally fine because almost every food is replaceable.

If you don’t want anything to bother you on a game day, it’s best to eat the foods you know you like and can handle. Most of the basketball players don’t like anything heavy (like sausages) on a game day, but that doesn’t have to mean it’s the case with you.

The point is that we are all different and that the key is to find the foods you love and work with what you have. It doesn’t have to be a perfect diet. It’s just important to adopt the habit, and the rest will come.

Why eating different food is important

You should eat different foods simply because each of them brings something, but none of them has it all. Milk brings protein and calcium. The meat provides proteins, vitamin B, iron, and zinc. Grains bring carbs and vitamin B-complex, and fruit and vegetables bring so-called protective vitamins (A and C), precious minerals and protective substances like beta-carotene and bioflavonoids).

When you’re a pro athlete, you sometimes eat the food you don’t like to get the most out of a diet. The top basketball player also has to abandon many things, and unfortunately, the food is one of them. If you skip any of the groups of food mentioned above, you risk lowering your chances for improvement. You don’t want to do that.

The Truth about Junk Food

what to eat after a basketball game

When I said that balancing meals requires a certain sacrifice, I was thinking about the so-called snack food or junk food. It makes an unnecessary calorie surplus and represents an unbeatable “weakness” for many.

Various flips, rolls, pizza’s and other foods from cellophane bags shouldn’t come to mind if you’re a pro basketball player. Why? Cause they’re ruining the balance!

Many basketball coaches are desperate because of the secret consumption of such foods. They use the term “snack monster ” which is not far from the truth.

The “snack” should be thought of as a small meal and not like “something to chew in your mouth.” In other words, junk food shouldn’t be a solution for psychological, but nutritional problems.

Why do you need Carbs, Protein and Fat? How much?


are the most precious fuel for top athletes because they use less oxygen than proteins and fat. It means you can train more intensively and longer and replenish your depot faster. Carbs should make around 40-60% of the total daily calorie intake, which means 3 grams per pound of your weight. For a player weighing 150 pounds, it would be 450g of carbohydrates per day.

It’s also important to know that the amount of required carbohydrates goes up to 70% if you have endurance training. In that case, even junk food is okay. You’ll be in a calorie deficit, which means you’ll have enough room for snacks.

this food, you’ll find the most carbs: bread, rice, crackers, pasta, cereal, potatoes, corn, sugary sweets, whole fruit, fruit juice, milk, ice cream.


are not used for energy but regeneration of tissues and organs. Because of the fast metabolism, protein consumption in basketball players should be higher than in regular people.

The average recommendation for younger players in development is 0.8 grams/pound of body weight, which means that an athlete who weighs 150 pounds per day should consume 120g proteins.

How to eat all that protein? Well, if you eat something meaty (but not greasy) 3 times a day and something milky (no cream and fat cheeses) 3 times a day, that would be it. If you feel you don’t meet these needs, you can get yourself additional protein – Whey Protein Concentrate.

You’ll find the most protein in this food: seafood, milk, cheese, eggs, yogurt, pork, chicken, lean beef, soy.


can be both good and bad. The only right approach means choosing low-fat food every time when you don’t eat whole food. Don’t go too high with them because fats have more than double calories per gram than carbs and proteins, which makes them potential unnecessary calories.

lThe reason why you shouldn’t completely cut fat is that the body needs it along with other elements. Fat is responsible for the transfer of some vitamins (A, D, E, K), skin elasticity, protection against infections and ultimately as an important source of energy.

It’s a tank of energy that will jump in just when you need it most. As far as daily intake, there’s not much difference here between athletes and non-athletes. Keep it around 0.3g/pound, and you’ll be fine. The food with mostly healthy fats: almonds, nuts, seafood, peanuts, olive oil, etc.

Vitamins and minerals

It’s clear that top athletes need vitamins and minerals, the catalysts of all vital functions, regularly and in sufficient quantities. At least 20% more than in non-athletes, and in some sports even more than that.

One of the essential vitamins are B Vitamins covers the metabolism of carbs (the cycle of energy). If you’re not sure if you’re missing it, take a look at your diet and see if you’re eating enough of grain products – with whole grain. If not, the problem is easily solved through supplementation.

For teeth and bones protection there’s Calcium that’s mostly contained in dairy products like milk and yogurt, and for blood circulation, there’s Vitamin E, contained in almonds.


As for the water and other fluids, basketball players absolutely need more than non-athletes; at least 8-10 big glasses a day. Reasons? Accelerated metabolism, intense exchange of nutrient and the rapid evacuation of waste materials (toxins).

Everything in the body „swims“ in water, and if there’s not enough of it, all the processes are slowed down. If you play outdoors in summer or a gym without air-conditioner, the required amount of water is doubled and sometimes even tripled.

The official recommendation for a 150-pound basketball player is a gallon or more or water per day when training at least one time per day.

Pre-game/practice meal

To avoid hunger during the game and to allow for better physical and psychological readiness. This meal should be consumed at least 2-3 hours before the game to supplement the glycogenic reserves and to raise blood glucose levels.

  • Be sure you eat the right type of carbs that won’t cause you any problems and get you too bloated
  • A good protein meal that’s easy on a stomach
  • Eat rainbow fruits – orange, grapefruit, banana, mango, kiwifruit, etc.

Foods to include:
– few sources of carbs (vegetables, fruits, grains) – cooked vegetables, integral bread, fruit juice, etc.
– milk products – raw milk, fruit yogurt, milk without lactose, low-fat cheese
– low-fat meat and fish – ham, roasted chicken, cooked chicken without skin, tuna, any fish

Foods to avoid:
– hamburgers, sausages, peanut, fatty cheeses, potato chips, french fries, mayonnaise, croissant.
Because of the high-fat content, these foods are slowly digesting so it may come to discomfort and other problems during the activity.

One hour before the game, it’s best not to put anything in mouth except the cold liquid (every 15 minutes).

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