For any future NBA star, there are several things you should prioritize: attending every practice, building up your skills, and working on your agility, but all of these things are related to one thing — nutrition. To become the strongest, fastest, and most powerful version of yourself, you need to focus on what goes into your body. That means creating healthy habits that become second nature, enabling you to keep going when everyone else is about to get benched. Here are some of our top nutrition tips to help you achieve your basketball dreams:
1. Never skip breakfast because it’s how you start your day right
You’ve probably heard the old adage, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. Well, this advice rings doubly true for athletes. According to Stack, evidence from numerous studies shows that eating a breakfast that is full of protein helps you maintain a lower body fat percentage. “When you wake up, your body is in a fasted state and your muscles need nutrients. Going long periods of time without eating puts your body in fat storage mode.” If you’re going to attempt explosive movements like dunks, you really can’t afford to gain fat while starving your muscles at the same time. That’s why getting into the habit of eating a balanced breakfast is key. For instance, eating a delicious egg omelette with turkey, cheese, onions and bell peppers with one cup of Greek yogurt with blueberries, one slice of bread with almond butter, and drinking two glasses of water is a great way to start your day. It may sound like a lot but your body needs all the fuel it can get.
2. Make sure that every meal you consume is packed with protein
Many athletes tend to struggle with building enough muscle mass and strength during basketball season. The number one reason? You probably aren’t eating enough protein when your body needs it the most. Research by the Gatorade Sports Science Institute found that an athlete should ideally “consume 0.25g of leucine-rich protein per kilogram of body weight every 3–4 hours and within about the first 30 minutes after training.” During meals, milk, eggs, and meat are best for this purpose. After basketball practice, however, you probably don’t have time for a full meal. That’s where protein powder comes in. The most popular variant is whey protein, which can be mixed with milk or water on-the-go. Although Parsley Health states that it is easily digested and absorbed by the body, they recommend that anyone with dairy sensitivities or dietary restrictions find plant-based alternatives to whey.
3. Strategize your food prep so you don’t have to rely on junk food
For a more detailed look into the world of nutrition and the developmental benefits of healthy eating, check out our previous article on ‘Top Nutrition Tips For Kids Playing Basketball’.
It’s often tempting to reach for that giant bag of chips or delicious bag of popcorn, but junk food sadly contains zero amounts of helpful nutritional content. Essentially, it just leads to weight gain without muscle, making you slow and sluggish on the court. To avoid temptation, we suggest creating a detailed meal plan that comes with a bunch of healthy snacks to tide your cravings over throughout the day. Some options suggested by Livestrong include a bowl of whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk, a cup of low-fat yogurt with an orange, whole-wheat bread with jam, or a banana. Make sure to prepare in advance and bring these with you to school or work so you avoid ordering any greasy fast food or getting snacks from vending machines.