Game Day Nutrition

In the heat of basketball season, practicing players are improving their skills and tactics. Improving athletic skills enhances performance. When a player is avid about eating and staying healthy, they are also improving their performance. In fact, every athlete can benefit from a little education on nutrition; so, here are some specific tips on the best foods to eat before and after your big game!


Before an intense sporting event, meals consisting of carbohydrates and lean proteins are best (while avoiding greasy, high-fatty carbs like french fries). Carbs and lean proteins are easy to digest and loaded with energy. The best carbs are full of fiber, although, it is best to avoid super-rich fiber foods that could give you gas and bathroom troubles before the game. Some examples of these include: beans, brussel sprouts, grapes and broccoli. Also, it is best to eat 3-4 hours before your game with an approx. 600-800 calorie intake. If you choose to eat 2-3 hours before, limit the calories to 400-500. Let's not forget the importance of hydration! Make sure you drink plenty of water and liquids as well.

Here are some great examples of pre-game meals:

Breakfast- (for a late-morning or an early-afternoon competition)
Bowl of cereal with low-fat milk
Sliced bananas
Toasted whole-grain English Muffin with peanut butter
Glass of orange juice

Lunch- (for a late-afternoon or evening competition)
Turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread
Salad with light dressing (or veggie soup)
Frozen yogurt with sliced strawberries

Dinner- (for an early-morning or any-time-the-next-day competition)
Grilled chicken
Pasta with marinara sauce
Broccoli and carrots
Fruit salad
2 fig bars
Glass of skim or 1% low-fat milk


Post game nutrition is just as important as pre-game. In fact, the faster you recover with carbs and fluids the better. The recommendation is to start eating approx. 30 minutes after your event. Keep a piece of fruit in your sports bag and you won't have to worry! Here are some other helpful tips when choosing what to eat after the big game.

  • Get plenty of fluids: water, fruit juice, sports drinks, soups, and watery fruits and veggies (watermelon, grapes, oranges, tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumbers).
  • Consume lots of carbohydrate-rich foods: pasta, potatoes, rice, breads, fruits, yogurts, as well as some lean protein.
  • Eat Potassium-rich foods such as potatoes, bananas, oranges, orange juice, and raisins.
  • Do not attempt to replenish lost sodium by smothering your food in salt or by popping dangerous salt tablets. A typical meal, moderately salted, supplies enough sodium to replace the amount lost through sweat.

Preparing with proper nutrition is sure to give you an edge when compared to other athletes. I hope you will practice these wonderful game day habits as much as you practice your shooting follow through. It's sure to be a slam dunk!!!


    Bethany Bird
    Monthly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
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